We rode the Trans-Massachusetts-Trail yesterday. A series of dirt roads starting at the border of Connecticut and Massachusetts and working its way north to route 2 where it meets up with the start of the Puppy Dog Trail, which winds its way north all the way to the Canadian border (we’ll be doing that one shortly). Near the end of the trip we stopped for a break in the woods to address the “call of nature” and grab a snack.
To the right was a small hill, and the left edge of the road had a two foot mound, that turned out to be a half buried stone wall, before continuing down the hill. I’m not sure how far it was to the bottom, maybe a hundred feet, but from where we’d pulled off to the right of the road we couldn’t see down past the mound.
We chatted and drank some water, and ended up quietly enjoying the scene for a few moments until we heard something running through the woods just past the mound. We looked at each other, and I walked quickly, and quietly, to the look over. It was an adult Black Bear trotting quickly through the woods. I made a “be quiet” hand motion and mouthed “bear” (Dachary’s eyes got huge) because I didn’t want to bear to come over. Then I remembered all the episodes of Survivorman we’d watched in which Les was walking through the woods yelling “Hey Bear!” because the LAST thing you want to do is surprise a bear.
So I promptly started shouting out “Hey Bear!” Grabbed my keys, shoved them into the ignition, threw on my helmet, started it up and revved the engine, which I’m happy to say has a nice deep growl of a sound . I threw my gloves between my crotch and the bike, checked to make sure Dachary was on her bike, and we took off; zipped jackets and gloved hands be damned!
How close were we? The bear could have easily closed the distance between us in three seconds. How much adrenaline did we have? Just enough to cap off the day with a smile. Although the remaining miles were pretty anticlimactic.
P.S. A coworker opened her eyes wide when I related yelling “Hey Bear!” “I thought you played dead?” she said. For those of you who don’t know: No, you don’t play dead. You make lots of noise, hopefully stay out sight, and the bear will probably stay away from you. If the bear comes up to you, make yourself big, carry a big stick, and pray to your favorite deity. Unless it’s a Grizzly Bear, which you probably won’t know until the thing is pretty much on top of you. If it’s a grizzly I’m pretty sure you do the same thing, except if making noise fails, you play dead. If you play dead for a Black Bear or a Brown Bear, they’re likely to thank you for making it easy to kill you for being in their territory.
P.P.S. On a related note. Does anyone know the appropriate strategy for dealing with mountain lions or keeping them away from your camp? That’s an issue we may have to deal with in Central / South America.
P.P.P.S Afterwards Dachary was all “Why were you telling me to be quiet?!?!” because she’s smarter than me. ;)