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Backpacking Light Magazine (Print) PDF Reprint - Backpacking and the Bruin Mind


Backpacking Light Magazine (Print) PDF Reprint - Backpacking and the Bruin Mind

PDF reprint of an article with thoughtful, informative analysis on bear behavior and how to travel in bear country.

Description

Originally Published In: Issue 8, Fall 2007

PDF reprint of an article with thoughtful, informative analysis on bear behavior - their intelligence, senses of smell and sight, memory & learning, and more - and how to travel in bear country - food containment, shelter, how to avoid encounters & what to do when they are inevitable, and more from Backpacking Light Magazine (Print Version).

  • Title: Backpacking and the Bruin Mind
  • Author: R. Clinton Ohlers
  • Word Count: 7,563
  • Images: 4 Photos

Abstract

My most recent encounter with bears was with a mother and cub. My hiking partner and I had lingered atop a twiggy, wooded Appalachian summit. A rocky outcropping gave view to a sister peak a couple miles away and the river valley below. Light rains in the morning had kept almost everyone off the trail, and as we readied to head down the other side, Laura whispered, “Look, a bear.” Maybe 30 yards back down the trail, I caught the profile of a black bear. 

It can be hard to gauge distance in the woods and, therefore, hard to tell a bear’s size. I perceived him as medium to smallish. He had been coming uphill along the grade and switched back our way. Seeing us he turned back. He paused only to sniff the air, head cocked to the side. Then, hindquarters disappearing into the brush, he was gone.

I waited and scanned about for a possible second bear. Sure enough, a much larger bruin emerged from the brush on the heels of the first. She ignored us, following her cub without a pause. If one didn’t know better, it would be easy to think the mother was unaware of our presence. That, however, is rather unlikely.


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