Let’s get right into the bear stories
(But I understand if you’re here just for the pictures)
Let it be known, I have a fear of wild bears.
We entered Sequoia National Park at sunset. 15-feet in, cars stopped to watch a bear up a tree. That wasn’t so bad, the further up the tree he was, the cuter he looked 🙂
An hour drive later, we arrived at our campground. It was pitch dark. I had no idea what the surroundings really looked like. On top of that, I misplaced my flashlight somewhere between Arizona and here. All I had was a small lantern.
As we unpacked the car, a neighboring camper shouted “BEAR! BEAR!” I froze. I could not see a thing. I did not even know how close or far away that person and their camp was because we got there in the dark. After getting major stress knots in my shoulders, I opted to stay in the minivan for a while setting up the air mattress and bedding. I was so freaked out, I decided to go to bed and stay in the car for the rest of the night. Seth sat by the fire by himself. The bear activity did not faze him in the least.
The next day was lovely! No bears for the MOST part. Until it got dark. I traded my lantern for Seth’s flashlight and kept my eyes and ears peeled. At that point I knew the terrain around us. Our campsite was on the edge of the campground. Behind us was a hill with rocks and trees and nothing but wilderness in the distance. I could imagine bears coming out from that area – little did I know I was kind of right.
It was late. Most of us in the campground had already eaten and began to settle by our fires. Our backs were to the hill behind us, we faced some of our neighbors as we sat watching our fire. Every minute or so, I popped out my flashlight and pointed it at a sound that came from somewhere around us.
I heard the smallest sound of a twig breaking behind me. I turned to my right, switched on and pointed my flashlight in one fluid motion. 10-feet behind us was a healthy-size black bear sauntering across the back of our camp. Before I knew it, my body jerked up to a standing position. Seth mirrored me in a millisecond. I whispered, “Bear. There’s a bear here.” I followed the bear with my light while making my way to the car. Even though he did not seem interested in us, I was not comfortable being so close to a wild bear. Seth grabbed the flashlight from me as I went inside. He shouted, “Bear!” for our neighbors to hear and made noise to scare him off. He watched the bear continue to casually walk from left to right, then up the hill. I got out after he left. One of our neighbors came over to ask about where the bear was.
Seth got a better look at him than I and said he had something in his mouth. It was a light in color and kind of looked like a loaf of bread. I pointed the flashlight to where Seth said the bear went. As I scanned the hill, Seth spotted the bear between two trees. He was sitting facing us. His eyes were like two white laser beams as they reflected our flashlight. We stood there for a moment in awe of this creature who was looking right back at us. It felt amazing and creepy. The bear broke our odd staring contest to eat the thing he carried up there in his mouth.
I kept my light on him. Occasionally, he glanced up at me. Our neighbors to the side kept their light on him, too. After a couple of minutes, the bear turned and took his final bow for us who were watching this bear show. And he made his way up the hill, out of sight.
Not 5-minutes later, the neighbor just in front of our camp, across a small narrow road, walked over to ask about the bear. He then added, “I don’t know if this is related, but I’m missing a loaf of bread.” We laughed as Seth explained the bear had something that looked exactly like a loaf of bread in his mouth and we watched him eat it. Apparently, this man set down a fully wrapped loaf of bread on his table, walked 5-8 feet to his car, and when he turned around the bread was gone! He heard NOTHING. You would think the plastic wrap the bread was in would make a sound. No sound. And the bear made no sounds around the man and his camp. Conversely, every step we took would make some noise. It is amazing that such a large and heavy animal could be so stealth.
As the night went on most of our neighbors made extra noise to scare bears away. Nonetheless, there were a few more bear sightings at surrounding campsites, but no more at ours.
The next morning, we investigated the bear’s path behind our campsite. There indeed was a path. At the top we found the plastic bag the bread was in (not a crumb left), an open ramen packet, a candy wrapper, and pistachio shells. Clearly, this was the bear’s grub route! He would come from this direction into the campground, sneak around for food like a ninja, walk back up the path, and eat his loot. Then go down and do the whole thing again.
All behind OUR campsite.
The bear route:
The rest of the photos from Sequoia!
As we embarked on our journey to Sequoia, it felt like our road trip had really begun. Staying for two nights allowed us time to take in the scenery and relax. It was a beautiful place to have a rest day. We put to use our new hammock. IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. We fell in love with this simple $15 hammock. It provided a surprisingly comfortable place to rest while being away from any real furniture for a long time. Our pass times included a photo walk, playing poker, reading books, and watching the fire in the evening. Oh and cooking. Cooking in the wilderness is quite a production and takes lots of time to setup and cleanup. Seth made all of our amazing meals which I am so grateful for. Besides the bear show, it was incredibly peaceful and remarkably beautiful. Laying in the hammock and reading while surrounded by awe-inspiring trees is one of my favorite moments from this trip. Not surprisingly though, I have a lot of favorite moments from this trip!
My last story for this post is one of great pride. Some time during our last night in Sequoia, it had rained! Because of the moisture, Seth gave up trying to start a fire in the morning. To be fair, we were going to pack up and leave early and did not necessarily need a fire. But I took on this challenge. The fire pit was soaking wet, our 2-3 pieces of wood were also soaking wet. But guess what guys, it took me half an hour and I built a fire with wet materials and it looked amazing!!