We always bring our SLR with us when we hike (unless it’s just a training hike on Tiger Mountain or if the forecast is beyond craptastic), but on Saturday we decided to leave it at home, mainly because we wanted to save weight (I had never done anything longer than 9 miles in my Merrell Pace Gloves before, so I wanted to go as light as possible), but also because we were just going to Rattlesnake Mountain (which is pretty enough, but, well, if you hike in Washington long enough, you get spoiled)*.
Of course, after 10 minutes or so on trail, we ran into several hikers warning us of bears ahead. I’ve met enough bears at this point that my immediate thought was less “oh shit, a bear!” and more “oh shit, I only have my crappy compact camera!” – I would probably have been nervous if I were alone, but I know that black bears usually either don’t care about humans or they’re scared of us.
We leashed Jasper and Wellie to avoid an unfortunate canine/ursine confrontation, then hiked on in search of the bruin. Sure enough, on a switchback 1-2 miles before Grand Prospect, we met the cutest bear I have ever seen. He was just sitting there on a log, quietly observing us. I haven’t stopped kicking myself for not having my SLR to take a photo when a bear was staring me right in the face. Why? Whyyyy?
The rest of the hike was uneventful but pleasant (and my feet felt wonderful in the Pace Gloves, even with the whole kicking myself-thing), and the day turned excellent when Gimpy Jo picked us up at the Rattlesnake Lake trailhead and whisked us off to the Yellow Dog Inn where she not only served us beer and ALL THE FOODS, but presented me with a beautiful (and not to mention timely) bear amulet (which I will tell you more about when the time is right).
*whoa! That just might be the longest (and most parenthesized) sentence I have ever written.