Thursday, 14 June – Mama Bear and Baby Bear
|Destination: Spence Field Shelter||Today’s Miles: 17.8|
|Start Location: Fontana Hilton||Trip Miles: 192.1|
Well today I got up close and personal with mama bear. The Smokies are famous for black bears. I hiked into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park early this morning. Around noon, I was hiking uphill watching my feet when I heard an exhale or snort. There was mama bear about ten feet away to the right of the trail. Baby bear was in a tree on the other side of the trail. I almost stepped between them. I backed up. I have seen videos of black bears doing bluff charges. They take about three fast steps towards you and stop. Mama bear charged, fortunately she saw the videos too, she stopped after about three steps. I banged my hiking poles together and yelled. She headed over towards baby bear and uphill. Your pulse rate is already up with a thirty pound pack on the uphill. You can imagine my pulse after that.
So the Fontana Hilton got pretty crowded last night. I counted nine, including myself, in the shelter and one cowboy camping. Flash and Tater Tot along with Angie who I had met at Gooder Grove Hostel were there, Caribou and a few others. I was the first one out at 6:30. Flash and Tater Tot were just getting up.
The morning climb into the park was strenuous but the rest of the day was nice. It was a little cooler over 3,000 feet and sometimes a little breeze. I only passed three pairs of south bound hikers today. The shelter before this one is closed because of aggressive bear activity. I am glad this shelter is open because the next one is an additional six miles!
I got to the shelter about 3:30, waiting for someone else to come in so I don’t have to hang my food to go get water. At five, no arrivals yet and I am getting hungry. Wonder if I will have the shelter to myself. The park has rules that you can only stay in shelters. People reserve specific nights at specific shelters. Long distance hikers do not have specific reservations and can be asked to leave the shelter and set up a tent if someone with reservations shows up. I think I will be in the shelter tonight.