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chased by a bear at sages ravine

Hey fellow backpackers,

I was sitting by the river, and I felt myself going into bliss because it was my third day and I was starting to get my mountain legs and knew I had not lost them. I heard crunching leaves behind me. At some level, as I've heard bears twice before, I knew it was one, but instead I waited for the hikers to appear behind me. When they didn't, I looked behind me and saw a large black bear approaching fast on the downhill. I stood up quickly, and the bear grabbed a tree as if to climb it. I skipped across the river and began walking fast along the trail as if I didn't care about the bear or the place any more. After a while I looked behind me and saw that it was following in the almost out of sight around the bend position. I kept going and redoubled my efforts. I looked around again and saw the same thing. This time I thought I might be close to the campsite where it would be loathe to go in the morning, and I could put my food in the locker. I dropped my water bottle for a delay. Fortunately this seemed to do the trick. It was my favorite water bottle and the bear must have loved it, but alas frustration. I didn't have a bear vault. I was carrying an empty dry gas container. Maybe it liked this. I was carrying dried fruit and chickpea flour and oats, all in a polypropylene bag with a thin layer of pvc. Maybe it was this. I had turned back instead of going straight out like other hikers. Thus I was in a spot which might not have been frequented in the morning. Bear might have expected to be alone. So many mistakes, and now I've got it for hiking the applaichian trail again. What should I do? I think I'd be better fit and bring a weapon next time.

Welcome Old yellow,

Man, I hate it when that happens!

Where is Sages Ravine?

Where you on an established trail when you first saw the bear?

I would get pepper spray made specifically for bears. If you only wound them with a gun, they may get really mad. I had friends that stopped two grizzly charges in the Yellowstone backcountry last summer with pepper spray.

I don't blame you for feeling uneasy about the bear encounter but chances are he was just following you and waiting for you to sit your pack down. I've heard of it before and saw it happen last year in Yosemite. At the trail junction to Half Dome it was a natural place for hikers to drop there packs and take a break before starting up the trail to HD. There was a bear that would stay hidden in the bushes just waiting for a pack left unattended and then would hussle over hoping for an easy meal.

The time that I saw it happen two guys had dropped there packs and stepped out of site to releive themselves and as we walked up to he took off running, leaving the packs behind. When we got up on the top of the dome another guy said that the same thing had happened to him at the same place earlier that day.

Sages is in the northwest corner of conn.I have spent well over 100 nights there and many more in that area in all seasons and have never seen a beer.Just use beer safe practices.You will most likely never see another beer there,especialy after the bussy season starts.

While northwest Connecticut is not considered "bear country," read "Hiking and Camping Safely in Bear Country" for more info on avoiding and handling bear encounters.

I have read that the State with the most bears along the AT is New Jersey. On the AT, hikers see the most bears in the Smokies National Park in NC. Yes. I, too, have heard that bears have learned that if they follow or chase hikers, packs with food in them will be dropped.

Bears enter homes in Tahoe City, CA to raid refrigerators. They like beer. A study found that bears who forage human food are fatter and sleep longer than bears who survive only in the wilds.

Bears harming people in the east is very rare, but usually involves cubs when it has happened. I learned that in the Boston Museum of Science.

Grizzlies are another story and polar bears see humans as food.

From what I have read, no one method of deterring bears works all the time. Firearms is probably the worst. Unless you are an accomplished hunter, shooting accurately at a charging bear when you are in a panic, gives the advantage to the bear. Bear spray is more accurate and will annoy rather than anger. Black bears will fake a charge to scare you, too. A Ranger in Glacier Park came upon a grizzly which started following him only if the ranger rung his bear bell.

Hiking, I follow regulations such as bear canisters or hanging food bags, but the only other defense I take with me are the odds.

BTW I spent an entire summer on a trail crew in Glacier Park, the year after a woman was killed by a grizzly in the 60's. I heard the stories and saw the signs of bears, but never saw one. Another friend saw them every night trying to raid the garbage cans at a lodge.

The only bear I have ever seen in the wilds was while driving along a road in NH. When I reported my sightings at a near-by gas station the attendant shrugged, "Oh yeah, we see them all the time." (near Waterville Valley, NH)

Yes, I have been to Yellowstone!

PS Sages Ravine is at the MA/CT border in a "remote" part of the AT and is favorite destination for hikers out of NYC. (stream and water falls) Remote means that it is not near any easy road access. It is near the highest point in CT and a nice view.

Dwight McCarter, an old school GSMNP Ranger (retired), was one of the most experienced trackers and S&R personal in the Smokies for several decades. Some of his accomplishments are unbelievable, and are worth looking up. But what intrigued me the most were his reports on Black Bear behavior. In his long years as a backcountry ranger he was bluff-charged by bears hundreds of times. McCarter carried a hiking staff, and he reports that in all but a few of his hundreds of encounters, if shouting didn't work he would charge back and deliver a swift blow to their snout with the hiking staff. Apparently, this was nearly 100% effective, and the couple times it wasn't he climbed a tree and waited till the offending bear left. He stressed that it didn't work if you weren't completely committed to your "return" bluff charge. Confidence is key, I guess ;) The more aggressive behavior was much more frequent on trails and camps with high traffic, as those bears had learned that most will abandon their pack or camp when faced with a bear. Easy meal I guess!

I take NO responsibility if anyone adopts McCarter's approach, I just found it really interesting and wanted to share. :)

The difference between a black bear and a grizzly is easy to tell by your climbing a tree - a black bear will climb the tree to eat you, while the grizzly will just knock the tree over and eat you.

One of the campfire stories I tell on Boy Scout trips and in my role during Mountain Man re-enactments is the "Bears and Beavers" story. The people who have heard it before often ask for a re-telling, and the ones who haven't heard it before come up afterward and tell me they really like that story.

You can't just say that you have a great story then not tell it!

"Last summer for the first time two grizzly cubs became tame and were fed by hand around Old Faithful. This will not do and must be stopped before it is well started or the bear problem will be worse than ever." George M. Write, wildlife biologist, mid-May, 1932

Quoting further from the current National Parks Magazine article:

"Year after year (1930s), bears--grizzly and blacks -- were treated like pets and circus attractions in America's national parks. They ate from the hands of camera-toting tourists, snared fish from artificially stocked streams, and were allowed to rummage through trash dumps while spectators gawked."

The article is manly about Write who began to put an end to the process.

Okay, Bill S, we are waiting for the story.

Applachian trail just north of the connecticut border.

Thanks, that was the second suggestion of the AT ridge-runner I met afterwards. He also mentioned the bear vault and freeze drying your food.

It's the female bear with two cubs. It invades the campsite there periodically. I was there at an unusual time and early in the season I guess they might be quite hungry and there are few available sources of food.

Thanks, you know I was really a coward, but I had no staff. a group of swedes whom I was warning off the trail just after the incident pointed their ski poles at me as if I was a bear myself. I learned that I had been eaten by the bear in spirit and the bear finds the human thumb to bite it back. I'll be carrying a tool definately the next time I go hiking.

Sorry I didn't get that I should quote your text. Thanks for a couple more ideas.

If you are very proficient with a firearm and of course it's legal where you are hiking then it can be very effective. I would say if you are able to practice once a week a firearm it is a viable option. If you already own a firearm and frequently practice with it then it's something to consider.

On the other hand, spray is much easier to use, is lighter and requires little practice.

I do agree with the other posters that it is very unlikely that you will have anymore bear issues. Keep in mind its also unlikely that you're place of living will burn down. Despite this, I'm sure most people here carry homeowners or renters insurance. Despite the chances of needing some form of protection being very slim, the consequences of not having it are POTENTIALLY, much worse then the consequences of having it. Same goes for a first aid kit or signal mirror.

You really need to make a conscious decision as to whether or not to bring any kind of protection. For example, if I was making a short 5 mile hike from the car and setting up camp for 5 days to catch salmon in Alaska, I would probably bring a firearm as there is a high probability of seeing multiple bears and the weight is of little consequence on a short hike. On the other hand, if I was doing a long distance ultralight hike in a low bear density area of the lower 48 I might opt for bear spray or maybe no protection. Keep in mind that there is also a slight inherent danger in carrying a firearm as well. If you are in an area where the chances of a self defense situation coming up are extremely slim, then a firearm may actually increase the risk level more than lower it, not to mention adding several pounds of unneeded weight.

Regarding a firearm, I wish I could bring one but you know, people might not like me. I would feel quite comfortable with an axe, but I've heard bears are deterred by a punch to the nose. I'm thinking a good aluminum staff with a removable rubber foot. Then I'll practice a martial arts spear form until I get used to handling it.

I might be backpacking in Sages Ravine this weekend. Maybe I will pick up some bear spray before I head out.

Always carry bearspray in bear country and don't ever leave your pack unattended, even for a minute. A bear that gets human food or other bear attractants, like bug spray or soap, can become aggressive. When backpacking use bear resistant canisters for food and odorous items, and store it 100 yards from your tent. Observing a bear in the backcountry doing normal bear stuff is an amazing experience. Just watch from a safe distance and don't approach, especially if it's a sow with babies. If you surprise a bear and it charges you, keep in mind black bears will often bluff charge. They don't want to engage you they just want you to go away. Grizzlies on the other hand mean business. Use your bearspray if a bear is approaching and you feel threatened. It's very effective and will not hurt the bear. PLEASE help keep all bears safe and wild.

Bears and Beavers

You can't just say that you have a great story then not tell it!

And then rambler said:

Okay, Bill S, we are waiting for the story.

Okay, then, you asked for it. Just remember it is a story for telling to the tourists at Mountain Man re-enactments and campfires at Boy Scout and Girls Scout campouts. I think I got this story originally from Doc Forgey -

First the background from my earlier post:

The difference between a black bear and a grizzly is easy to tell by your climbing a tree - a black bear will climb the tree to eat you, while the grizzly will just knock the tree over and eat you.

I was hiking through the woods in Montana one day when I heard a sound. I looked around and there was a HUGE grizzly! He was looking at me, drooling like I was the biggest piece of venison on the hoof he had seen. As he started for me, I quickly headed for the nearest sizable tree and climbed it as fast as I could. That old grizzly rared up on his hind legs and stared up at me, then began shaking the tree. He shook it harder and harder (shakey voice as I say this for dramatic effect). I hung on for all I was worth. After a while, he got tired and stood there looking at me, then rambled off into the woods. I waited for about 15 or 20 minutes, then started to climb down. But when I was about halfway down, I heard a crashing in the woods, and the first grizzly came into view, along with a SECOND HUGE grizzly! The two of them came over to my tree, rared up, and looked at me. Then they commenced to shake the tree even HARDER! They tried to push it over one way, then another (SHAKEY VOICE for dramatic effect) They SHOOK and SHOOK and SHOOK the tree so HARD that I could barely cling to the branches. They SHOOK it for about 20 minutes. Finally, they stopped and lay on the ground panting from the effort. After a few minutes, they got up and rambled slowly into the woods. This time, I waited for a full hour before starting down. I had gotten almost all the way to the ground when I again heard a CRASHING through the woods. So I scrambled as fast as I could back up the tree. As I looked down, I saw not ONE, not TWO, but THREE HUGE GRIZZLIES come up to my tree. And EACH ONE OF THEM HAD A BEAVER UNDER HIS ARM!

Great story! Sounds like a Farside cartoon with the Bears and Beavers

Official advice: Bears are the reason you should always hike with a companion, as they are less likely to take on a group.
Unofficial advice: Make sure you are not the slowest runner in your group.

Unofficial advice: Make sure you are not the slowest runner in your group.

Reminds me of the classic joke:

Two hikers are out one day and spot a bear and two cubs. She notices the hikers and starts heading their way. The first hiker sits down, takes off his boots and quickly laces up his running shoes. The 2nd hiker says, “What good is it going to do you to put on your running shoes? That bear has got to be at least 800 lbs, and can probably run over 50 miles an hour.” The first hiker turns and says "I don't have to out run the bear."

Ha ha I like that one Bill S. Good one too Zalmen mlotek!

Good stories. Would love to find the bears with the beavers. Tasty little critters! lol If you arte interested in learning something about bears please visit my website at Bears Unlimited is a non profit that performs research and educational writings and classes on bears and thier behavior. Lots of ways to protect yourself and undersatnd what bears are about. I spend a great deal of time with the furry critters all over North America. I have admit that I have not been in the eastern mountains but blackies are fairly standard in thier general personalities. Hope that it will answer some questions about bears.

Cute story about chainsaw beavers and funny web page on the fuzzy bears. Like maybe American alligators, we tend to not take bears seriously enough when visiting their habitats. Nice that blackies are on the AT and hope accommodations can be made. Bears are expanding into Central Nevada and Southern California so now there is no where to be sure of avoiding them for a weekend trip out of Northern California. Have had bluff charges, cub encounters, snapping twigs at night, garbage raiders, and Yosemite thugs. I keep a clean camp, avoid cooking if possible, carry bear cans, and use a tent with a 360 view. Have tried rattling pans and throwing rocks with little success. Lions follow my snowy tracks and I only notice when I happen to backtrack. Pot growers turn big dogs out for hikers. I put a large spray on my belt and a small spray in my shirt pocket even on a playa or above timberline. Wonder if the sprays work as signal devices or on charging wild pigs, lions, wild dogs, aggressive bulls, and rabid coyotes. Good luck with aluminum staffs. Better carry copper hollow points as backup. Lassie never comes when I call.

Hey guys I just wanted to point out that this is a topic about Sages Ravine in CT. On the extreeeemely rare occasion that you do come across a black bear in this area, the chances of it actually physically attacking you are almost non existent. I am in no way trying to offend anyone, nor am I playing down the dangers that are present when traveling through bear country in other areas of the United States. Also, Grizzly's are an entire different "breed" than the black bears we have in CT. Before you start shooting at bears (speaking within CT only) talk to the trail runners in the area if you need to be reassured about proper and/or necessary precautions when hiking through sages ravine. I want to say again that this is not to offend anyone who posted previously, or to minimize the danger from bears in other parts of the country. If we start shooting around here, however, we are only going to draw unnecessary negative attention to this beautiful area of the AT. It will also provoke paranoia in those who have not taken the time to research CT black bear behavior. Look at the stats, and please, take the time to inform yourself before jumping to extremes. I say this with complete respect because it seems that every day we lose another piece of nature to enjoy in some part of the state. Lets try to keep this place as beautiful and peaceful as it is, and remember, WE are making a choice to venture into THEIR territory, we should respect them and their habitat.

I try to hike with a partner when in bear country, and I carry a knife I can reach quickly. If a bear ever threatens me then I'll stab my partner in the leg and then run as fast as I can.

I do not live in "bear country" and alot of my overnight trips are made close in LA/MS. I still practice bear bagging although mostly for raccoons. That said, I have hiked the a good bit in "bear country" and never run into a bear on the trail until last year right here in LA where I encountered 2 LA black bears on the trail. With conservation efforts the way they are, alot of places are becoming bear country. It is best to take precautions where ever you hike, and be aware of your surroundings when out on the trail.

What about one of those nasty taser guns.... I am kidding of course, but it would be better than hitting them on the nose with a stick. Yeesh....that takes a pair to do that!

I did meet a guy that horse-camped and he carried a single-wire electric fence (very compact) to keep the horse in a specified area.

I have a Storm Whistle" and man that thing is loud...about 130db, and I am hoping that it does the trick.


On the other this video!

Bear bells are annoying but effective. Most bear attacks occur when you surprise a bear on a blind corner or in deep brush. The biggest downfall is that not only do the bear hear you coming but so does everything else.

September 30, 2020
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