Sunday, September 11, 2005

Deep in the Woods ... of the Steamboat Ski Area

Tonight after work I headed up the mountain on my bike with my trusty old Wood Dog. A little over halfway up I looked up and saw a large black animal. At first I thought it must have been a Newfoundland but it was too far up for such a big dog to hike. At this point I was about 100 feet away and it quickly became apparent that it was a large black bear eating berries (there were plany of berries from our wet August and he looked quite healthy). I scanned for cubs and didn’t see any. Given my amiable encounters with black bears to date I told Woody to heel and proceeded up the trail.

We were both watching each other at this point and neither of us were getting aggressive. About 40 feet away the bear turned directly towards me we both nodded and then he ambled a couple of hundred feet away and disappeared. I never sensed any concern or agitation on his part. The feeling was very similar to when I have seen sharks when diving or swimming in the ocean, stay calm and you don’t look like food. It was cool to see him up on the mountain getting ready for winter just like me. I’ll take that as yet another sign we are in for a good winter in Steamboat this year.

I have seen a mother and cubs within ski area boundaries over Thanksgiving in about 1999 with Wendy and seen signs on the mountain in the summer ever since. Once I heard one thrashing a tree above me when I was biking up the other side of the mountain. My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera …

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