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.