This was a short conditioning hike using a workday-snatched couple of hours.
I only had one meeting today in Renton and it ended at 10. I figured I could do a little Tiger Mountain hike starting at E Sunset Way trail head (it is off I-90/exit 18, so not far from the north/south freeway I take home). I was planning to just edit my post from April or May that I have been using for these little hikes. But events took an unexpected turn.
I took the steep little connector trail up to Puget Power, to Adventure Trail, to High School Trail, to Section Line, to Nook, etc. etc. back down to Puget Power.
I was walking west on Puget Power trail – a wide and busy trail, not very far from I-90 – and I was just coming to the end of a short section with overhanging trees when, just around a little curve, I thought I saw a really big dog with a couple of little pals. They were looking at me intently.
So I stopped, figuring I would wait until the dogs’ owners came along. But it quickly dawned on me that this was a mother bear and two cubs. Whoa!
At that point my heart rate about doubled. My instinct was to turn tail and run but there is no way to outrun a bear and why act like prey?
So I stood there silently. We stared at each other for a few seconds and then I slowly started backing away. She kept looking at me but did not follow.
I backtracked about 1/4 mile and briefly thought about going back the way I came. But that would take a lot of time, and I thought maybe the bears had split, so I turned around and slowly – carefully – walked back.
No bears, I am happy to say, but after I passed the point where I had encountered them I confess I set a record pace back to the car.
Just goes to show how ignorant I am of bear behavior. In a hundred years I would never have guessed that bears would be hanging out in such a busy place. But winter is coming, the bears are fattening up, and there must have been some berries (and/or senior citizen hikers) around.
Bottom line, I need to be totally vigilant not just some of the time, but everywhere I hike, all the time.