By Diane Bertrand
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While on a trip to Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks , I visited a place called Crescent Meadow. I went there to see the wildflowers, but as soon as I arrived, people starting asking “ Have you seen the bears?”. Apparently, the big attraction in the meadow are the bears that call it home. I wondered if I was the only one who wasn’t aware of this seemingly well known fact.
As I started out on my hike through the meadow, I was filled with a sense of excitement at the possibility of seeing a bear in the wild. This was coupled with a sense of fear, as although I had read some advice tips on what to do when in the company of a bear, I wasn’t at all sure I was prepared.
As it turned out, preparation wasn’t necessary. I made my way through the beautiful meadow trail , but never saw one bear.
Heading back to my car, I again had mixed feelings. Wouldn’t it be great to tell my friends about my bear encounter? I might have even had a chance to snap a photo as proof.
My disappointment at having no tale to tell grew with distance from the meadow. I assumed the chance had passed me by as it was time to make my way out of the park.
As I was driving out, I decided to take one last short hike on the Tall Trees Trail. The trail was just off the side of the road, but as soon as I entered it, I felt in another world. As I walked along, totally alone, the quiet and beauty had me thinking “ This place is like the Enchanted Forest”. It was at that point I lifted my head and turned slightly to the left to see a quite large bear less than 20 feet away! For a split second I panicked. Then we made eye contact; something the advice articles discouraged. Next thing I knew, I was reaching for my camera to take a picture! Just then, the bear reared up and growled. I turned and began walking quickly in the direction from which I‘d come, all the time reminding myself not to run, but wondering if that bear was behind me! I finally made it back to the safety of my car and was able to think again. I had just had a bear encounter and I had no photo to prove it! Even as I was thinking this, I was thinking that I should be grateful to have come out of the Enchanted Forest intact.
I continued on the road leading out of the park, still trying to grasp what had just happened to me. I noticed a group of cars pulled over to the side of the road and as more cars approached the area, they too were pulling over. As I got closer, I finally saw why. There along the side of the road, munching on grass, seemingly oblivious to the onlookers was a bear cub! He was absolutely adorable! I immediately dubbed him Teddy as I pulled in behind the other cars and began to watch the show. He kept crossing the road, back and forth, eating grass , appearing to ignore the attention, at the same time acting as if he were doing a photo shoot. My camera! I pulled it out and wearily left my car ( where was mom?) to take a few photos along with the other brave bear hunters. As I pulled away, leaving Teddy and his admirers behind, a smile crossed my face. I finally had my tale.
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