I don’t know if this is something to be cheered or offered a “better luck next time” with a pat on the back scenario. At some point on every section hike, I feel confident enough to “spot” a bear. I don’t want to encounter one, or round the corner and do a face plant into the rear end of one, I just feel ready to see one running away at high speed. I saw more scat this trip (SOBO Wayah Bald to Rock Gap) than the last couple, so I know they were around. My bear anxieties were elevated after our shuttle driver told us how 5 out of 7 hikers had their food stolen in the last few days. Or maybe it was 5 out of 7 days, someone had their food stolen. It did help that no one was injured in said food theft, but nonetheless all of my pre-trip mental preparation on remaining calm enough at night to have a peaceful night’s sleep went out the window. Gawd, was I mad at him for so eagerly delivering fear upon our parade. Well, all of us except one — Silver Fox. I’m thinking of changing her name to Silver Balls. No wait, that sounds too joyful. Wait – wait. That would be Silver Bells and it’s not even the holiday season yet. Hmmm. I’m going to have to think of a good trail name that represents a lack of fear.
I’m talking a lack of fear of bears, lightening– I guess that’s all there is to fear out there in the woods. Snakes! One time her sleeping bag got completely soaked, and not one complaint was heard on the matter. It was cold with no plans letting up on the rain and she just kept on kepting on.
One late thru hiker, who we named Moxie, casually mentioned she had seen two bears since Springer Mountain, and I swear she might have yawned after it. I am waiting for a plaque and a medal (and I may be persuaded to also wear a tiara) to be awarded to me on my first siting, and yet I rarely feel like anyone else is having a spazz-out over their bear sightings. So, is it me??? Have I built up this whole bear-phobia thing beyond necessary heights? Me thinks the answer is yes. Or I have met some incredibly brave people.
Still. Stories of bear paws on tents and those who have woken up with a bear nose near theirs haunts me. Yet these hikers still hike.
Common sense tells me that my odds of being harmed by a bear is very small. A black bear on the Appalachian Trail, that is. After an hour of searching google for statistical information on bear attacks in 2018, I was unable to obtain an actual report. Perhaps the Conservancy would provide one if asked, but I maybe only saw 2 articles written on bear attacks in this year.
Despite all fears, great, small, and irrelevant, I had a wonderful time visiting my good friends, Twinkle Toes and Silver Fox. Between the three of us, I believe there is a nice balance of common sense, good sense, and nonsense. Certainly an abundance of two-cents!
So is there a lesson to offer in this post? Not really. More like a thought, and a hope for thoughts from others. I really just want to have ONE peaceful night’s sleep out on the trail. Until then, I’ll keep trying to drown out the sounds of the things that go “BOOGIE! BOOGIE! BOOGIE!” in the night.