The Coomer's Falls chase

12:40 a.m. on March 17, 2011 (EDT)
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     My most fond memory of the outdoors is also my most terrifying.  My wife and I were on a leisurely hike along Coomer's Falls trail, which runs into the AT in the shadow of the tallest mountain in Virginia, Mount Rogers.

     We were about two miles down the trail, when we heard something stirring in the laurel just around a bend in the trail.  This wasn't the careful footfalls of a cautious deer, nor the scampering of a frantic squirrel searching for a nut.  No, this was something large, something that didn't care if anything heard it meandering between the trees.

     I told my wife to be quiet and to stay put while I checked it out.  I stepped cautiously around the bend and standing just up the ridge from me was a black bear, head down rummaging through the undergrowth.  He was a mere ten yards or so from me, but was unaware of my presence.

     I slowly began to backup and make my escape, only to stumble into my wife, who stubbornly disregarded my advice to stay put.  At about that moment there came a snort from the bear, who finally decided to give us some attention.  Down the hill raced the bear.  I had just a few seconds, but every survival show I had ever watched raced through my head.  What do you do when being attacked by a black bear?  Suddenly it hit me, I ran toward the bear, waving my arms over my head and screaming my head off.  The bear stopped cold in it's tracks and looked at my like I must simply be insane; after all he was the bear.  he seemed confused how we had suddenly switch places.

     With the bear unsure what to do, I turned to find my wife already scampering up the trail.  i quickly backed behind the laurel and once out of sight of the bear, I took off running up the mountainside.  The trail was thick with laurel and I kept thinking the bear was going to pop out and gobble me up any second.  I finally made it to the top of the hill and tried to take a breather because my heart felt as if it might leap out of my chest, either that or I was going to have a heart attack and make the bear an easy meal.  My wife urged me on, she could see the car and wasn't waiting for me if I didn't move my tail!

     We finally made it to the car, hopped in and took a long breath, while looking at each other.  Safe, we laughed until we couldn't laugh anymore, thankful to be alive, and with an even deeper respect for nature.  It was just one of hundreds of days we have spent in the wilds, but that single day is a day we will never forget, a day that has defined what the outdoors is to us; a place full of beauty, a place full of peril, but a place we love and call home.

1:54 a.m. on April 10, 2011 (EDT)
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Beautiful writing, well told story, exceptional view of nature and our home.

December 22, 2014
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