First Bear Encounter

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Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:00 pm

First Bear Encounter

Unread post by ruralspace »

Posted this to the Facebook group but thought I'd share here for people who are lucky enough not to have FB accounts.

Drove up Saturday night from the city after work to camp and get an early start on Slide Mountain the next day. We hit the sites by the cemetery on 28 west of Phoenicia. We got the last available spot at about 11pm. One site was up partying with music and fireworks (?).

Set up camp, had a fire and called it a night around midnight. We had left all our food (and smelly stuff) in the car, about 200 feet away. Around 3:15 I was awoken by slow, heavy steps coming down the hill near our site, complete with ominous twig snaps. My partner heard it as well. We sat up and listened. And then there was the sniffing/snorting sound...

I've car camped in just about every DEC campground in the Catskills. I had a deer stroll through my site and have heard all manner of small creatures rustling around. But I'd never heard something like this before.

I grabbed my knife and loudly said "NO, GO AWAY".

A few more huffs but no movement.

"GET OUT OF HERE. NO. GO" repeated a few times.

And then the glorious sound of movement away from camp. I estimated he was about 50 feet away. I didn't know if I should
have put a light on or what (I didn't). I just loudly and firmly asked it to leave while trying to keep my partner calm. When I couldn't hear any more steps I exited the tent and didn't see anything. My partner asked if we could go to the car as she would feel better. We did, slept a couple hours and returned to the site at sunrise to catch a few more winks in the tent.

We got up around 8:30, had breakfast, broke camp and were on the trail to Slide at 10. Before the bear, I thought maybe we'd try to hit Cornell as well but we just hit the Burroughs plaque and headed back down as we were exhausted from the previous night's distraction.

Overall a good trip but I was definitely freaked out and am now considering picking up a can of bear spray just in case. I honestly don't know what I would've done if the bear got closer or started messing with the tent. Any thoughts/advice/stories welcome on bear encounters.

- Jeff
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