A brief note about wildlife!

So, one thing living in Tahoe affords me is experiencing wildlife on a semi regular basis. What I also witness though is just how dumb people can be, and the things they say in regards to wildlife, especially bears. On my very first Summits on the Air activation of “Pt 9614” (W6/NS-086) I had what could have been a very dangerous experience with a bear. Some would say I am lucky, I do not necessarily disagree with that, but the one thing that mattered is that I did not lose my cool and panic, and THAT had a lot to do with getting out of the situation. So I will not go too much into the trip report for this other then to say I hiked up the High Meadow Road from the basin, and instead of heading up to the Rim Trail via Star Lake, I decided to do some overland hiking and navigation skills. That is one nice thing about hiking above tree level, plenty of hand rails for navigating. So I made my way across the meadow, and started up on my climb, had a few creek crossings. Reality is, I was using an old road on the map I was using to short cut my way from High meadow to the Rim Trail. One thing you want to do whenever in bear country is make a lot of noise, and yes I make plenty of noise. I will sit there and yell “Hey Bear” about every 5-10 minutes, and whistle, and sing and what not. If there is a bear, or cougar, or any other wildlife, they know I am coming. That said, I’ve navigated so far so good, and I’m about 300 yards from the Rim Trail and can actually see the trail, and see bikes go whizzing by from time to time, so no worries. At one point, I yelled out a “hey bear” and heard a rustle up ahead of me, and managed to see a small ball of black fur go take off across the trail. “Oh shit! that’s a baby” is probably what I thought, it’s been a couple of years. All STOP! Do not go forward, do not go backwards, again. I started scanning the area around me, by now Junior was way off to my left about 100 yards (man those animals can move.another reason NOT TO RUN!). That said, where was big momma? I scanned to the right, and above me, about 100-200 feet up the hill was mom. I was in the one position you NEVER want to be in with a mom and cubs (in the middle). She had not taken any offensive positioning with me, yet, she had not risen up on her hind legs, but she was definitely checking me out. At that rate, I figured the best thing I could do was start to back down the hill a little bit. I did not turn around and run, I did not maintain eye contact, I just backed down the hill slowly. Once I added another 50-100 feet between us, I started to move to my right (in her general direction) but away from the direction of the cub. The goal was to put her between me and the cub. Once I was well to her right, I started to move up the hill, she maintained and even pace with my ascent and it stayed that way for about 100-200 yards. Then about 50 yards below the trail a mountain biker came whizzing by and she took off. I do wonder what she would have done if I had made the trail, but no bikers or hikers had come by. Moral of the story though, I did not act threatening, I talked calmly, but loud enough she could here me “Away with your weapons, I mean you no harm” etc and moved slowly. Maintain calm, and composure. Remember, we’re in their house, it is their rules, and best to be respectful. I did manage to grab one pic though during a tense part of the encounter.

Author: JDinSLT

Love playing in the outdoors, Amateur Radio operator. Since I love hiking and bagging peaks, I picked up Summits on the Air back in 2015. Made Mountain Goat (and Shack Sloth) in early 2019. Also do Search and Rescue in the Tahoe Area. Work in the tech industry.

2 thoughts on “A brief note about wildlife!”

  1. Hi Jamie — That’s a gripping story. I’m thinking about activating White Mountain Peak for SOTA and I’d like to chat. Please send me your email address. I’m also a KX2 owner and I’m going to mail you a KX2-related gift. 73, Bruce N7RR

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