Here is the thing about hiking alone: you have plenty of opportunities to dialogue with yourself and play multiple scenarios out. To say that I knew what I was going to do until I did would have been a lie. I kept going back and forth depending if I was on an incline or flat ground. I eventually made it to the top of the ridge, but not before seeing wild turkeys (take that Elmer Fudd). After evaluating my life, I decided to push on and go as far as I possibly could allowing enough time to setup camp and eat dinner before sunset.
Now, the experts say to cook and eat food at least an hour before sunset on the chance that there are animals around camp. I was pushing it with my time, as I had about thirty minutes before the sun dropped below the horizon. I wasn't worried, since up to this point I hadn’t noticed any signs of wildlife other than the usual birds, squirrels, and turkeys from earlier. I had just finished boiling my water and sealing up the bag of freeze dried food, when all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of a large black figure out of the corner of my eye. I turned to face it, only to lock eyes with a black bear standing on its hind legs fifteen feet away. Next thing I know I am standing as tall as I can banging my trek poles and yelling as loud as I can. How the poles got into my hand, I cannot tell you. If the bear could talk I bet he would have said, “Oh $#!&, this dude is for real!” He then turned and took off in a sprint. Before I could see how far he ran I noticed another black blur up in a tree slightly to my right. TWO BEARS!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!?! I didn’t have the chance to give another Oscar winning performance, because when I turned towards the second bear he fell out of the tree about six feet, landed on his back, quickly sprang up, and bolted out of there. I had just survived my first bear encounter.
I had signal on my phone and completed just a little shy of academic quality research on black bears to make sure that I would be okay for the rest of the night. I quickly ate my dinner, hopped into my tent and surprisingly fell asleep rather quickly. I guess adrenaline drains are one way to help the body and mind relax.
I knew that the next day I was going to hike the rest of the North Mountain trail and find a way back to my vehicle, ending my trip two days earlier than planned. I was okay with that. I did it. I accomplished what I sought out to do.
It wasn’t pretty, but I learned a lot in those four days of hiking. It was good to hike alone. It was good to hike with people. It was good to be uncomfortable. It was good to second guess my planning. it was good to push myself. Overall, it was good.
To experience my trip, at a glance, check out my Instagram Story Highlight.
Hope From the Trail
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