I'm just back, having hiked about 70 miles in the Cranberry Backcountry in West Virginia, and a single encounter with a black bear and her cub defined the trip for me.
I hiked most of the Pocahontas Trail (the main trail), the Fork Mountain Tr (with its two-mile climb, heavily overgrown with stinging nettles), Big Run Trail (worth a side trip all the way down it to see Big Run and resupply with water), Big Bend Tr, Frosty Gap, Kennison Mountain Tr, South Fork Tr, Cowpasture Tr (worth a look to see Cranberry Glades), and North Bend Tr. These trails have been described as "underutilized" with good reason. If you're looking for solitude, this is the place to go.
Along the Pocahontas Trail, I had the black-bear experience that gave me something to think about for the following 20 miles or so.
I was cruising along when I heard a gigantic roar. It gave me a nanosecond of fear before I saw a momma bear tearing away from me into the woods. Her cub was scurrying up a tree making a sound that can only be described as a sign of sheer terror: a high-pitched EE-EE-EE-EE-EE-EE-EE-EE, a sound I had never heard from a bear before.
Now I've had bears follow me along the trail. I've had momma bears stare at me with curiosity, and I've seen bears amble quietly off the trail as I approached them. But I've never seen a mother bear abandon her cub in terror. It will take me a long time to recover from the fact that I was the proximate cause of that fear.
Can you tell that the state allows bear hunting in West Virginia? I've seen a lot of advice on how to deal with the "threat" of black bears on various backpacking boards. In some places at least the bears are not a threat. We are the threat to them. I've heard various species from the great white shark to the rattlesnake to the polar bear to the Ebola virus as the most dangerous organism on Earth. Let's face it. Humans are the most dangerous. We are a threat to other organisms and ourselves.
Ah, well. Just the meanderings engendered by so many hours alone on the trail.
P.S. added later: I was looking forward to snacking on the ripe blackberries on the trail, but every bush was stripped clean. Given the lack of humans along these underused trails, I can only assume that there were a lot of bears in the woods.