Bear Beware

 
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It was a brisk but sunny day high up in the redwood forest near a major logging operation, but you’d never know it looking at the old growth redwoods densely packed across the mountain. We made our way up a winding road to a trail that never seemed to materialize. But after deciding to keep driving, we finally arrived. It was so worth it. 

The view from the tiny parking lot was breathtaking. A mountain range across from us with a plethora of different shape and size trees, green and golden grasses swaying in the breeze, and a few wisps of clouds flew across the blue sky as it met with a barely darker blue Pacific Ocean below. We stopped for a snack before heading down the trail and chatted with two Canadian couples who were just ending their hike. They had rented a mini-van three weeks prior and were taking a lingering vacation through the Pacific Northwest. With a boost of energy, we headed to the trail—laughing, singing, joking all the way down until we were in a dense forest. Along the way we found a beautiful redwood shingled barn in the middle of nowhere. We peeked through the slats and tried opening the door. To our surprise it was unlocked. We entered an old abandoned barn with a roof that slanted on one side. To our even greater surprise was a sign that informed us the barn had been a sheep barn until very recently. It was a resting spot for the sheep as the roamed the grasses of the farmer that had once lived on that land. 

 
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Our hike continued through tall golden and crispy dry grasses before the trail spit us out onto a gravel road which we walked for several hundred yards until the trail picked up again on the other side. As we leisurely strolled, someone in our group of seven spotted a bear cub directly ahead at the edge of the forest where we were headed.  

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We stopped. We went silent. We were scared. No momma bear was to be seen, but we knew she was there—somewhere. With newly gathered information from the previous night’s campfire chat at the ranger station at Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, we began to make a lot of noise to scare the little guy away from us and toward his mom. With our hearts pounding and our palms sweaty, we continued to slowly walk ahead. The caramel colored bear stopped eating, raised his head toward us with his nose pointed toward the sky, then dropped his delicious morsel and rain into the forest. We took a collective sigh of relief but waited several minutes before continuing our adventure. 

It’s never a dull moment in the redwood forest. Yep, that little guy makes an appearance in my first novel, Waters Rise. Tell me your bear sighting story.