Finding Bigfoot on the AT

Which one are you more worried about when you’re hiking the trail?

bear

Oh look how cute he is 🙂

OR

bigfoot

I may watch Bigfoot shows a little too much.

I know bears can be an issue on the trail if you’re not attentive, but if Bigfoot is real he might be more willing to rip your head off than the bear. Maybe I should call up that Animal Planet show Finding Bigfoot and get their opinion, but I’m sure they’re busy doing important things.

When I worked in the Smoky Mountains this past summer I had a small close encounter with a black bear that made me pretty nervous at the time. In hindsight it wasn’t a big deal but it gets me thinking. I know most all black bears are afraid of humans but I think all hikers wonder if they’re going to run into that one pissed off bear. Seeing that bear up close was incredibly exciting and incredibly terrifying and I am wondering what to do if the bear winds up not running away.

I know you’re supposed to make yourself look big, make noise and throw rocks and sticks towards the bear but I also know that doesn’t work all the time. I always hang a bear bag out of caution, I always cook away from my tenting area, and I keep all things that smell in the bear bag.

I read before that bears are more attracted to the shelters on the AT so camping away from the shelters is a good way to avoid bears in the evening. They know more people and food are in the shelter because they’re regularly occupied. Though I also know tons of people who have stayed at AT shelters and haven’t been mauled in their sleep by bears.

Sometimes I think about getting bear spray just to be prepared while I’m on the trail. I will be in a party of 2, so it’s better than 1 when it comes to safety, but I feel like bear spray could be worth the weight. Though I’d have to keep it in a place where it can be accessed quickly. which could possibly make it a nuisance 99.78888888% of the time while hiking.

I would love to see bears at a distance while on the trail and would love even more if they didn’t come up to me. It’s like how Edward Abbey never saw a grizzly bear in Alaska yet he was actively looking for them. I will not be looking for black bears at all and I hope I don’t see any.

Enough about black bears though, what about Bigfoot tromping around the Appalachian Mountains? What if I start hearing whooping in the night? What if I hear logs being knocked against trees? If it happens I will be worried at first, but then realize it’s probably just these guys.

finding_bigfood

Then maybe I’ll just Bigfoot whoop back so they can feel they actually found solid evidence. Their show is just so entertainingly bad, I can’t turn the channel when I run across it on TV. It’s like watching Ghost Adventures, which is the most entertainingly terrible show that ever existed. You’re better off using those two shows for drinking games.

I digress. Bears are a small fear in the back of my mind that can consume my brain time to time. I know it shouldn’t but it does. It cracks me up how worried Bill Bryson was about seeing a bear before the trip and he never wound up seeing one bear. Granted he only hiked about 800 miles of the trail, but still. The only thing more I could really do is bring bear spray, which a lot of hikers say is a waste. I could wear a bear bell. Let me say that I know the bell does not actively scare off a bear, that’s not their purpose. Their purpose is to make the bear aware of your presence ahead of time so they’re not startled when you come walking around a bend in the trail. Bears will only eat your face off if they’re dangerously starved, they feel their offspring are being threatened or if you surprise them. Bear bells can help eliminate that surprise factor. I read an article once where a researcher was actively going up to bears and ringing bear bells, trying to scare them away. The bears were not scared off so he deemed the bells completely ineffective. Again, my argument is that the bells are not designed to actively scare a bear off that is already there, but merely make them aware of your presence so you don’t startle them.

Bears; they’re big and fuzzy and sometimes you just want to pet them and get too close to take picture. But for god sake don’t people. It’s stupid and annoying. You might get your face eaten off or you might cause a bear jam in Cades Cove. I believe in evolution so if you’re stupid enough to try to get right next to a bear for a selfie and you die, I will feel no pity. You deserved to die because you obviously had some weak ass genetics if you thought going up to the bear was the best decision. It’s almost more annoying when someone causes a bear jam in Cades Cove while I’m trying to make it to some of the park trail heads. So do me a favor, if you’re going to be stupid around black bears, at least have the courtesy to get eaten and not cause a bear jam.

Thanks.

104 days til’ Katahdin! #Maine2Georgia #SOBO

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