Bear in the woods

One time a couple of years ago, I was dating a woman who was a serious runner. Like Hood-to-Coast, competitive, train hard all the time, 6:00 mile, runner. I was not so into running, but at the time I had several friends who were also into running, and I had a gym membership that I used several times a week, and once in a while I would go out running with my girlfriend or with my friends. I was always the slowest one but I had some fun with it.

So it was summer, and it was a month or two before Hood-to-Coast, and one morning my girlfriend and I got up early, packed some food, and went for a hike up by Multnomah Falls. We started at the bottom and got to the top of the falls, which was the highest I’d ever been on those trails. It was fun, but since I’d been getting more and more fit, and she was, as I said, a serious runner, so we checked the maps (she had maps) and decided to go up to Devil’s Rest and back. We made good time, and enjoyed each other’s company. But once we reached there, and snacked a bit… I still wanted to go further. But she was still training for H2C and wasn’t sure. We hiked down a bit, and came to a crossroads.

And I talked her into going further, up to the top of Larch Mountain.

She checked the maps and figured that would make our total loop over 19 miles. I said that was less than a marathon and since it’s just walking it would be OK. She said that it’s not walking, it’s hiking, and we’d be going up and down steep trails. But she agreed, because I was so enthusiastic.

But she got quiet for that section of the trip. In fact, she pulled out her music player (it wasn’t an iPod – I had an iPod but she had some other brand) and spent the rest of the hike up listening to her music. I thought it was a bit rude but the scenery was fantastic. Have you ever been up there? Amazing waterfalls…

We got to the top, and broke out our lunch. She’d thoughtfully packed beer (Fat Tire – her favorite) and we toasted our hike. She took of for a short 10 minute run, and then we packed up and headed down.

A couple of miles down, she had her headphones on and was behind me. I saw some movement off to my right, uphill, back in the woods. It was black, which stood out, even in the heavy shadows of the trees. I stopped.

It was a bear. A black bear. Ambling along, parallel to the trail. I wasn’t sure what to do. Was it dangerous? Would it ignore us? I stopped.

I turned around and whispered to my girlfriend. She gave me a frustrated look, and plucked her earbuds out of her ears. “What?”

“Bear,” I whispered again, and pointed.

It was gone.

She shrugged, said, “Sure,” and kept walking. She didn’t believe me! The bear had been right there, not 100 feet away! She’d missed it, completely.

I’ve always wanted to go back on those trails. Only with someone less… y’know… bitchy.