After a ridiculously perplexing day at work today I couldn't wait to hit the trail while the big fluffy snowflakes were falling.
Topaz and I headed out at 4 PM, a little later than normal and planning 10 miles, I had my flashlight along.
As we ran upon the trail, the wind howling, snowflakes driving into my eyes, my hat pulled over my ears and my neck gaiter pulled up over my face, I hear a loud..well, bellowing. I thought of a cow, a moose, then decided it must have been 'thunder snow' or a real loud car muffler on the county road.
About a mile into our run Topaz began to growl and his hair upon his croup began to stand up. Now, I knew he wasn't looking at a person. I have trained him to complete a 'down' as soon as we see a person and I knew it wasn't a dog as I have him trained to 'come' as soon as he sees a dog. I couldn't figure it out. Pretty soon he looked to the left while running 15 feet in front of me. I looked out to the left, through the bare woods as the leaves are all off of the trees and I didn't see anything. I was looking too far out. It was much closer to us than I was looking. Pretty soon I saw it. Big, black and lumbering through the woods on four legs. My mind went blank. My legs turned to noodles. My heart sank into my stomach. It's a bear. WTF? I've never ever seen a bear nor have I seen bear tracks or bear poop out on the Blue Hill Trail and I have run here almost every day for the past 4 years.
I whispered to Topaz "it's a bear..quiet, come slowly" he crept back to me and slowly we continued upon the trail, leaving the bear behind. He was about 30 feet to my left.
As we began to run I began to think about the bear. I began to wonder if a person should aggressively holler and throw something at the bear if it were to approach..or to walk away quietly or to run? Don't climb a tree!
I was spooked. Every deer that jumped out in front of us made me jump out of my skin. A little doe crossed the trail in between Topaz and I, probably 5 feet in front of me and I nearly feinted.
As we came around the trail head I heard the sound again. I was again coming near the road so it could have been a vehicle, but no sooner did I hear the bellow and I saw it..them. Two bear. Oh sweet Jesus. Two black bear lumbering through the woods. Topaz became growly and his hair again stood on end. He looked at me for a command. "Come, quiet and slow, its bear again" He obeyed and we watched. They were going to cross our path. One of the black bear stood up on his legs and snorted. I about crapped my pants. I turned around and walked away, the way we had just run. I wasn't worried about running another 5 miles around the trail the opposite direction. I had a flashlight. I just couldn't go up the trail and encounter those bear. We back tracked and ran as fast as we could. Of course the bear could change direction and cross our path in the dark; I tried not to think of that. I just kept running.
I swung into the Refuge Headquarters to see if they had been spotting bear recently but they had already closed.
Tomorrow morning I'll be looking for more.