As a runner what would you do? You are running/hiking down a trail and pass a hiker and their dog coming the other way. They state “there is a bear up ahead next to the trail.” You think okay…I will just go a little farther. Five minutes later you come across another hiker with a dog who states “hey there is a bear up ahead on the left side just sitting next to the trail. I turned around.” So what do you do? Do you keep running towards the bear or turn and run away?
Well, this happened to me the other day as I was running in the Sierra Mountains. I love trail running and enjoy every quiet step along with the beauty, and sometimes wildlife. The week before I actually ran up on two coyote’s that dashed out from a bush right in front of me! It was startling at first, but knowing coyote’s, they probably thought they could hide but then I got to close and scared them to run away. You feel a sense of scared adrenaline of course, but once I was over it I just kept on running. So when I passed two different people around mile 4 telling me about a bear near the trail, what did I do when warned twice?
I ran towards the bear. Yep, like an idiot, running with a steep downward tree slope on my left and a flowing creek on my right, I decided to run towards the bear. This time of year they are coming out of hibernation and are looking for food and water. I realized “I bet he is going towards the creek…..crap!” And yet I kept running in the same direction. I have to be honest I was kind of excited to see a bear and was hoping to add a cool moment to my running resume. But afterward as I was running the final 2 miles of my 7, I started to think “what does this say about my personality?”
I am a cautiously optimistic risk-taker. I know that if I did not take some risks in life I would not be in a secure and comfortable situation I am living today. And running toward a bear validated my personality somewhat. I know that if that bear was right up on the trail or had cubs, I probably would have turned around. But for some reason I wanted visual confirmation putting myself in a position that could backfire. I kept asking myself over and over those last 2 miles….why would you do that?? When I asked my girlfriend what she would do she stated “turn the other way…I did it last year when someone warned me about a bear.” So I guess I might be an idiot or just curious about seeing a bear, either way, it’s my runner’s personality that made the decision.
Your asking did I see the bear? Sadly I did not see it as either the bear moved on, hid from me or I missed looking for him in the brush and trees. I am actually kind of sad but also fortunate I had no issues.
So….what would you do?