Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 73 Face Off on the PCT

Day 73
August 1st
17 miles (2 off trail miles)
PCT mile 1362

I had a quick 6 miles into Drakesbad Guest Ranch this morning for my resupply. Drakesbad is right on the PCT and was one of my chosen resupply points. I got in shortly before 10am and Pilsbury and Guy On A Buffulo were there when I arrived. 

Guy On A Buffalo

My resupply box was sent by my brother Adam and his fiancé, Ashley. They had included some nice surprises in favorite was a giant roll of Smarties candy. I wish I had taken a picture but I ate it tonight after dinner and had neglected to remember to do so.

I also got my new sleeping bag, so excited to try it out tonight!

After repacking, showering, and having lunch, I was back on the trail at 4pm. Buffalo and I left together, Pilsbury was an hour ahead of us. Buffalo was stopping at Lower Twin Lakes, 8 miles ahead, for the evening. He went ahead of me and I told him I'd see him there.

About 4 miles into the evening, I thought I was doing more climbing then I had remembered in the elevation profile. I checked my route with Halfmiles app, to discover I has hiked a mile off the PCT onto some other trail. Crap...just what I wanted to do hike 2 extra miles. I was not happy because my pack was really heavy tonight. Drakesbad didn't have a mail out, so I'm carrying about 5 extra pounds (my old sleeping bag and some other extra things I needed to send home) for 24 miles to the next post office in Old Station.

At mile 1359ish, I'm cruising down the trail, only 2 miles from the Lower Twin Lakes camp where I'm hoping to find Guy On A Buffalo, and directly in front of me on the trail I see this:

"Bear" I say outloud. He stops and I stop and we're both just looking at each other. "Picture...get a picture before he runs off." I grab my camera and snap this shot. Ok now that I've established that there's a bear in my path and I have a picture, and my presence still has not frightened him off, it's time to have a little talk with Mr. Bear.

"Mr. Bear?" I yell, in my deepest voice, nothing, "Mr. Bear? Don't you want to move off the trail, Mr. Bear?" He's looking at me like I'm a complete idiot. So I start clapping my hands, "Come on Mr. Bear don't you want to move. Move Mr. Bear get off the trail. Run away." this point I'm half expecting him to stand on his hind legs and start roaring at me.

So now that Mr. Bear and I have come to the very one-sided agreement that the PCT is very much his trail and not mine. I side step off the trail keeping myself facing him. I step on a large branch that makes a cracking noise and this does it. He runs off, making his dominence and territory well known to me.

As he is a safe distance away I continue on, looking over my shoulder every so often, just to make sure. I finally reach Lower Twin Lakes camp and find Buffalo where he's set up camp with 2 other thru-hikers Bee-Line and Billy Jack.

"You guys are not going to believe the evening I've had," stumbling happily into camp.

"We were wondering when you were going to get here" Bee-Line says. "What took you so long?"

I go on to tell them my events of the evening. "No way!!!" And "Sweet" were the responses I got from my story of the face off with the bear. The boys were very much jealous. 

About an hour later, it's probably around 9pm at this point, we're all sitting around camp in the dark talking and we hear a voice behind us, "Forest Ranger." We all turn around to greet him, " you all thru-hikers?" We tell him yes, he stays and talks with us for a while as he himself was an AT thru-hiker years ago. I tell him about my bear encounter earlier this evening and show him the picture. "Actually," he says, "that's why I'm out here, see my shotgun on the back of my pack? This fellow had gotten a little too friendly with human encounters and has gotten into some camps and torn some tents up. The shotgun shoots beanbags. It won't harm him but will hopefully scare him and stun him a bit. If I find him I give him a chance to run away by waving my arms and yelling at him, if he's not deterred by normal scare tactics then he gets beanbag shot at him."

"These tents? Were people in them at the time?" I ask.

"I haven't heard of him having direct human encounters while tearing up the camps."

"And the beanbag trick works?"

"We hope to deter the behavior and stop it early on. If not effective then we have to take bigger measures to relocate the bear."

So that's my bear story...I encountered a wanted bear. The ranger did not see the bear that evening, but I did! The ranger said he's covering about a 5 mile all you thru-hikers beware of the bear around 1359/Lower Twin Lakes area. 

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