Blogtember Day 4: Shenandoah Bears

Friday, September 6, 2013


Challenge: A story about a time you were very afraid.
There is something about the Shenandoah valley and its breathtaking views that is just so romantic. Well, it's fitting I guess, since you know what they say... Virginia is for lovers. But it really is one of my favorite places in the whole world. However, while the mountains of Virginia have given us many wonderful memories, they have also given us a good deal of trouble, too. You may recall the story I shared about our run in with the law. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only terrifying experience we had. On that same trip, only a few days before, we encountered something much more intimidating than a ranger with a loaded gun.
During our stay at Matthews Arm campground, we spent every day hiking up and down the mountains. On our first day there, we wanted to see as much as we possibly could so we picked one of the more lengthy trails. Despite the strenuous and rugged terrain, we kept climbing higher and higher just to get a better look at the valley. We hiked for a few miles or so and found a somewhat private overlook at the very top. Mike had planned an adorable little picnic lunch and when we found a nice little shaded spot, we spread out to enjoy the incredible view. After we finished eating, we sat back to relax and soak in the sights of the magestic blue and green mountains. We snapped a few photos and then headed back down the mountain. 
The sun was beating down pretty hard and after about fifteen minutes into our steep descent, I started to doubt whether or not I could handle the rest of the trip. Mike is an Eagle Scout and I knew he had a lot of hiking and climbing experience but I was losing confidence as the trail got rockier. I was already feeling pretty weary when about half way down, Mike shouted, "FREEZE!" I looked up to find that we were standing only a few feet away from a large black bear. My heart plunged into my stomach.
Seconds before, my biggest worry was not passing out from heat exhaustion and now I wasn't sure we would even make it off the mountain alive. There was literally no one around for miles to help us if the bear did take notice of our presence and decide to attack. To be honest, I had no idea what it was going to do, I just knew I didn't want to be there to find out.
The bear sniffed around and started walking a bit closer with his eyes set on the ground. We had some left over food in our pack and I started praying that he wouldn't smell it. As he got closer, I noticed that although he was massive to me, he was still pretty young and this could only mean one thing. Mom was probably not far away. There is only one thing I do know about bears and it's not to get between Mama and baby or she'll tear right through you.
My fear set into panic and I frantically whispered to Mike for help. I started to tear up picturing us being clawed to death. I have never felt that kind of fear before. Amazingly, Mike responded in the calmest voice that everything would be okay and he wouldn't let anything happen to me. He reassured me that as long as we were still we would be fine.
Fortunately, after the longest two minutes of my life, the bear wandered back up the mountain. Mike rushed to hold me. As strange of an experience as it was and as stupid as this sounds, looking back, I think it made our relationship stronger. Walking away, I never felt so protected in my life. I knew at that moment that Mike would have done anything and everything he could to make sure I wasn't harmed.
So I guess you could say that although it was one of the scariest experiences in my life, it was also a positive one!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, you must have been terrified! I have never had this experience in my life, although once we thought there was a wildcat outside our house, that was pretty scary. But to see it coming toward you! I'm pretty sure I would have been an idiot and screamed or did something equally stupid ; )

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