New Bedford

New Bedford

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Four weekends down Part III

July 10: Woke up around 645am and we got ready to see if there was any damage. Kimber joked for a second that it will look exactly the same as it did last night with maybe a few scratches. Nope. The bearbox was no longer on the wooden platform, but about 20 feet away from its original position. Siiiick! Since we didn't see the bear, it seemed as though it was a fairly hefty bear with some definite power. The bearbox is at least 75 pounds and possibly as much as 100 pounds. Kimber and I documented everything with our cameras and was greeted by John soon after. We started to laugh when we saw him and he wasn't sure why because he hadn't seen the bearbox's new location. We told him the brief story about it and made a trip to the communal bearbox to check if there was any damage. Nothing. Though, the campers down below at campsites #16-19 heard the commotion and one of the guys speculated that it might of just been a determined family of raccoons. Haha. John didn't stay long because he had to go on patrol up the East Side Trail along the river. Kimber and I made breakfast and made some rounds before meeting with John at the junction of the East Side Trail and Cedar Brook Trail. 
While we were on our rounds, we found out some serious information about the bear incident. From the times people heard the bear, it started at the beginning on the campsite at my bearbox. The campsite directly across from mine slept right through it all. He said he usually takes a Tylenol PM the first night of camping/hiking. His cookware that he left at the fire pit was knocked over. The next group was the family that moved from the illegal site to the site right next to the bearbox. They heard it try and get into that. In addition, they were using the fire pit at the neighboring site when the wife saw the eyes in the dark. The bear had shredded a bag that at one time had food in it. The final encountering with the bear was the two guys with their sons at campsite #3 (the site where they hung their food bag and used me as a reference for height). The two guys were relaxing at the fire, done with cooking, when they heard a loud thud from behind their tent. One of the guys put his headlamp on and checked to see what was at the tier below their site. This is when he realized it was a bear. He raised his arms up and made loud noises to have the bear run off into the distance. They showed me the exact spot where the bear was. They said that it must of stood up on the log and attempted to swat at the food bag. The bear did not reach the food bag and fell off the log. A large swipe of leaves was gone where the paw had landed on the ground. The guys described the bear as a large 300+ pound black bear. They had seen it both from the front and backside. After hearing their description, I was happy to not have left the tent the previous night. I have pictures of everything, but haven't been able to post anything yet. I will try to this week or next week. Once we were done with this, we headed up the junction with a shovel and one of the new signs.
We needed to replace the sign as well as the post. The sign because some of the trails were renamed due to the removal of the suspension bridge. The post because it was old and a 4x4. We are trying to get closer to the requirements for The Wilderness, which states the minimal impact of man and absence of man-made structures. First, we removed the post from the ground. The procedure was similar to that of the campsite posts. Though, this time it required some major man power (and woman power). First, we looked for a softwood that was of the right diameter for the new post. Once we found one, we cut it down and brought it over to the signage area. Next, I used an axe to sheer off the bark and make the tree trunk "naked," in the words of John. I used mostly the axe for this part, but had to peel any remaining bark off with our hands. Next, we manually put one of the two signs on the post. I put the large bolts in the post with a ratchet. I did all four bolts and my forearms are massive now. We put the other sign up that pointed to the East Side Trail. Finally, we put the 8 foot post into the ground after digging a 2 foot deep hole. Since I was the master of placing rocks around the post for stability, I was responsible for that. We naturalized the base of the post so it didn't look like it was just replaced. Once we were done, we had to carry the old post with the sign back to the campsite, 2.2 miles away. John took the first 8-10 minutes or so until he took a digger. It shook him up a bit so I took over for the next 10 minutes until we both carried it the post together (which was way easier and still a great workout for my forearms). We stopped after a stream crossing to snack on some food and rest for the last mile of the hike. We did see a trail runner that was pretty chill and was talking about some part of the trail that he missed at about 9.3 miles out. It was sweet to see another runner on the trail and running over 15 miles. He seemed pretty extreme, but totally a trail runner. He was decked out in all the right gear such as the trail shoes, the higher socks, and a camelback. Once we got back, John headed out right away. Kimber and I organized her stuff while waiting for my mom and Katie to arrive at the campsite. They arrived not too long after we did at about 330pm and we sat them down so they could read the bear incident report together. They freaked. My mom wanted me to take Katie's knife even though I had my own. She said it was so I could have one for my left hand. I replied with that I am not on planning on killing a bear. The multiple stabs I would give it (if I could get more than one in before it swung at me and brought me to the ground with ease) would only aggravate it more. I decided against it and believed that I will be okay for the night. The bear was not feed so it does not plan on coming back to struggle with bearbox again. The gang didn't stay too long because they had a long trip back to Connecticut that night. We said our goodbyes and it was tougher than I thought to see them hike away from my campsite. I honestly got pretty sad. Also, as soon as they were out of sight, I was on edge for the rest of the evening. I tidied up a bit around the campsite and headed out for a run at 5pm. Each turn I took, my eyes were wide open to make sure I didn't catch any bears off guard in the middle of the trail. That's when they become defensive and are aggressive. I did not see any bears or much of any wildlife on my run. Just some red squirrels and the sounds of the birds. I did get a course record for the final 2+ miles of my run. The best I have done was 13:10, I cruised in at 12:43. I think it was the fact that I heard my watch beep 6pm towards the end of my run and I was thinking to myself (what a wonderful world, not really) I only have like 2 hours until it starts becoming dark. As soon as I finished my run, I grabbed my towel and ran to the ranger pool. My body was still warm from the run so the water was much more refreshing and didn't put my body into shock. I got out, ran back (I always walk back), prepared dinner, ate dessert, cleaned up, made one final round, and I was in my tent by 815. I did have one guy swing by my site and we talked for a bit. I saw him relaxing on an inflatable raft when I ran past the ranger pool. He said it doubles as a floating device and a sleeping mat. Can't blame him. He revealed a lot about his life such as that he is hoping to meet some women in Manchester this upcoming week because he is now post marriage and he is a substitute teacher. Through all of his talk, he used psh! And uhhhh! quite a few times. But he was chill and super tan with a little bit of gut. I know this because he came over wearing cutoff jean shorts and no shirt on. Maybe that is another reason I locked up and was in my sleeping bag so early. My mom gave me some Benadryl so I would sleep soundly. I took one at 8. I wrote in my journal, updated my blog, reviewed the bear incident reports, read a chapter in Born to Run, and threw on my headphones to my sleep playlist. I don't even remember the first song that came on. I was out for the night before 9. While I was doing my bedtime rituals, I was almost expecting the awful sound of a ginormous bear smashing down on my bearbox. It didn't happen. I was prepared for one with a broom (noise maker against metal poles), my knife, a hammer, and my radio (another noise maker and possible communication for help). 

Summary: A productive day overall with a 10+ mile day (74:00) and 70+ for the week. With the bear incident, it just helps me realize that I am not the only one in the wilderness and I need to respect the other life that inhabits it. The bear only smelt food and was hungry. I cannot blame it that it found my bearbox with tons of food and remnants of food (trash). It is not the bear's fault. A solid weekend with one more day of work still to follow and a day off from running.

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