Close Bear Encounter of the Wrong Kind

So I pull into camp at Carter Gap, NC really early – 3:30. Great opportunity to dry and air out my gear. I’ll pitch my tent set up my bear rope and eat early. Nice night for some rest.

I got everything together just before four. I boiled some water, zipped open a dehydrated meal and dumped in the water. It took all of ten seconds.

While the meal rehydrated, I walked to my tent to organize some things. That’s when I heard a throaty snort just off my left shoulder. Not 15 feet away stood a medium size bear looking at me. Obviously, there was no macho reason to ask him who he was looking at. It was me ’cause no one else was there.

I stood up and yelled, “Hey!” He just kept looking from the surveillance position he’d taken up in the rhododendron shadows. I walked the 30 feet back to the shelter where my food was and made some BiG noise.

I even chunked some rocks in bear buddy’s direction. I thought he was gone.

After another 20 minutes passed, I walked back to my tent. Like the Star-Spangled Banner, he was still there lurking in the shadows plain as day.

I removed the rubber tip from one of my trekking poles, exposing its sharp business end as I returned to the shelter area to I hang my food. Then and there I decided that if he wasn’t afraid of me, then the opposite construct was probably appropriate.

Flight or fight had kicked in. Like so many of my ancestors who obviously made the right choice (or I wouldn’t be here), I decided to get the hell out if there.

It took another 20 minutes to pack up with old Yogi or Booboo waiting for his chance. I was moving just before 5 p.m.

The Appalachian Trail Guide I use noted a stealth camping site about 3 1/2 miles north. I beat feet and made the site before six with the last 30 min. hiking in the dark thanks to very low clouds.

Needless to say, the first thing I did was to find a good tree and hang my food bag very high.

I

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