Encounter With a Bear

Ed note: sent in by a reader –

I started my morning run at 5:30 a.m., planning to run 6 miles, with 5 20-second sprints at around mile 4. I ran out the door, out of Greyrock, our subdivision, onto Jarman’s Gap Road, and headed south. It was dark, with a full-moon lighting the way. While passing Chiles’ Peach Orchard, I saw a dog. A mile further, I saw a family of deer cross the road. I turned around at the Greenwood Community Center, feeling pretty good, looking forward to doing my sprints.

While heading back, I was approaching the four-mile point, passing a produce stand in the middle of another peach orchard. There was an orchard on the right and a field on the left. The road was uphill. Chiles’ was right after the top of the rise. In the pre-dawn gloom, I saw a large, black figure lumbering on four legs out from the orchard toward the road. It was too big to be a dog. I looked at it carefully, and my mind sent up a red flare, telling me, “Holy crap! THAT’S A BEAR!”

The bear continued to lumber toward the road. I stopped. It was about 150 meters from me. It lifted its head, testing the air. I think it smelled me. It was directly between me and the path home. I couldn’t get past it, and going around would take me miles out of the way. I retreated about 20 feet, just to make sure I’d have a bigger head start if it started toward me. I said to myself, “What do I do now? I can’t go on, because if the bear gets scared or mad it might try to kill me. I could go back, but that would take me hours.” My mind was racing.

At that moment, the bear started walking across the road. It went into the brush on the other side of the road, and I thought it would be safe. I started moving again, and it popped back onto the road. I stopped and retreated again. Then, I saw a small pickup truck approaching, going my way. I briefly thought about flagging it down and asking for a ride. The bear was not visible, but I knew it was there. Then I thought the truck will scare away the bear, so I’ll be able to pass safely. The truck passed me and the area where I thought the bear was and continued on.

I started running. I was thinking the bear is probably scared, and so I should make some loud noises so I don’t startle it. I gave my best roars, which sounded pretty weak, as I approached. Then I passed the area where the bear crossed. As I was running by, I was facing forward. I didn’t see anything at first. Then, I heard a rustle to my left. There, about eight feet up, was the bear, in a tree by the side of the road. If it had decided to, it could have easily jumped out of the tree and run me down. I was probably 20 feet from it. When I turned to look at it, the bear climbed up further into the tree. As I ran, slightly faster, past the bear, I realized that I scared the bear.

I made it back safely home. I told my wife about this, and told her I must be really ugly, to scare a bear.

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5 Replies to “Encounter With a Bear”

  1. I’ve also encountered a bear while running in the area. I thought it was a really big dog at first, until it stood up on its hind legs to get a better look at me. Generally, they are shy and scared of you (even if you are drop dead gorgeous like I am), unless you get between a mama and her cubs.

  2. Out west where they have Grizzly bears they encourage hikers to wear Bear Bells and make a lot of noise to warn the bears that they are coming. You don’t want to surprise them, but generally they are more scared of you than you are of them.

  3. Bear Bells….ha ha ha!

    Do you know the difference between Grizzly bear poo and Black Bear poo….Bear bells. That is a joke that MANY park rangers out west love to tell. The bells worked great until all the tourist starting buying them. They don’t scare the bears so much any more!

  4. I saw a bear about 2 weeks ago on Rt. 240 heading towards Charlottesville on my way to work. It was about 7 am and the Bear crossed the road between Western Ridge and Highlands (from the one farm to the other large farm). I thought it was dangerously close to two large neighborhoods! I even pulled over to warn a woman walking from Highlands towards Western Ridge (although she didn’t seem to care). I’m keeping my eyes open from now on!!

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