Hey, remember that longtime fear I’ve had about getting eaten by a bear? I knew I was right to worry. (If you don’t click on the link, I listed a bunch of random facts about myself. #2 was, “I’m sort of afraid I’m going to be eaten by a bear one of these days.”). Because that exact thing almost came to fruition yesterday.
I guess that depends on your definition of “almost.”
If “almost” means we were parked on the side of the road with a crowd of people, looking down into a meadow where a black bear was meandering about, a couple of thousand yards away, then yeah. Almost.
Regardless of the spacious safety net known as distance separating us, this was still closer than I’ve ever come to a bear in the wild before. (I hope. If not, ignorance is bliss.) And just between you and me, I don’t need to ever be any closer to a bear than a few thousand yards. Unless a cage separates us.
The bear had better be the one in the cage, by the way.
So, yeah. Had my first wild bear sighting. Tara and I had driven up to Mount Rainier National Park. It’s a good 2.5 hours from home, so we hit the road early, leaving at 7:20. Only twenty minutes behind schedule this time. Hey, we’re gettin’ better! And it’s a good thing we left when we did, because by the time we arrived at the Paradise Visitor’s Center shortly after 10 a.m., the parking lot was already full. But we were easily able to nab a spot on the shoulder (by the time we left that afternoon, the line of cars parked on the shoulder snaked down the road a good half-mile). But crowds and Rainier go hand in hand. Any place that has so much natural beauty, people are going to want to see.
We did a bit of hiking – I had every intention of completing the Skyline Trail Loop but was thwarted by a slickly dangerous patch of snow and ice clinging to the trail (which was on a rather steep slope at this particular juncture) so I turned around at that point and made it an in-and-out. Which was fine, as it was about the halfway point anyway. I mean…wouldn’t you?
The rocky portion at the bottom was off-limits, and those rangers in the pic were making sure nobody trampled over that section, where wildflowers are supposed to bloom.
In any case, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything scenery-wise.
After the hike, we got in the car and drove around the park (stopping along the way for the bear photo-op). We pulled over in one spot for a picnic lunch, where Tara tried to teach me the proper cherry pit spitting technique and pointed out a woman whose ass had eaten her shorts.
We finally got back home at 6:07, and had a relaxing evening. Ate pizza. And rice balls. And popcorn. And blueberries. And, what a weird combination that is…
Today I gave Audrey a driving lesson, then the three of us went out to lunch. (Yes, she’s driving now. Or learning to. But that’s a different post altogether.)
We’ve got a short week coming up. Tara and I took Thursday and Friday off to head north for some camping. Like, far north. 5 hours north north. But the campground’s in a canyon outside Leavenworth, WA and we’ve got a great spot right next to a river, so I’m confident it will be totally worth the drive. We’ll have a great time relaxing and recreating. Feels like forever since we’ve gone camping.
Hopefully there won’t be any more close encounters with bears…