We awakened to another glorious summer day. It's warm and comfortable, although smoke is in the air from faraway fires, reminding us of the scary part of summer.
The flowers are bursting to life. During our ride, K and I swooshed through a meadow dotted with Golden Banner flowers. Soon, Golden Banner will paint the entire meadow yellow.
Today, I silently glided down a smooth and steep path into the meadow at high speed. As I glided, I heard a loud snort - an explosion of air from a mammal's nostrils. Before I could look for the source, I heard another sound - the scrabbling of small claws against a pine tree's bark.
When I stopped, here was the first animal that I saw - our sow.
My actions were based on tons of reading about black bear behavior. Although the popular belief is that mothers with cubs are the most dangerous bears, hard data show that they are not. They rarely attack. Instead, they bluster and try to scare away any human or animal who is threatening their cubs. Keeping a calm demeanor and slowly moving away from the cubs is the best advice that I've read.
I was happy with my reaction today. I stayed very calm. When I pulled out my pepper spray, I even remembered to notice the wind direction so that I wouldn't have the pepper spray blow back in my face (but I never truly believed that I was going to need the spray). Despite the excitement, I remembered that the sow had a second cub somewhere in the area and tried to figure out where that cub was based on sow's behavior. It all worked out fine. This is a good bear, a bear who is afraid of people but uses her "bear behavior" rather than force to scare us away.
I came away feeling truly lucky to have seen the bear family in person. I felt guilty that I'd caused them so much stress but I didn't do it on purpose. As soon as I realized what was going on, I tried to manage the situation as peacefully as I could.
It was a day that I'll never forget because I love having bears in our forest.