Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Last of 2005

The last of the mountains hiked in 2005:

Carole and I had a pretty good setup for our tent camping. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty good. This was our last car camping tent trip. This was at Standing Indian Campground in June of 2005. The reason it was our last tent camping trip was because one night we were visited by a very large and very aggressive black bear. He wrecked part of our campsite searching for food that wasn't there. (All of our food was stored away and locked in the truck.) But the bear didn't know there was no food until he'd knocked everything over and broken open every container. He didn't hurt us, but he easily could have. I chased him away initially, but he blundered right back into camp a few minutes later, and I knew that he was far too aggressive to try bluffing a second time. So we retreated to the cab of the truck and I chased him away a final time by starting the engine, which did the job. At any rate, we'd been discussing buying a hard-sided trailer, and this was the impetus for that final decision. I don't mind tent camping when I go backpacking, but I don't like bears barging into my camp when I'm with my wife. She's not accustomed to that kind of thing.

John Rock, above the fish hatchery in the Pisgah National Forest. Part of the fish hatchery can be seen far below, and that's Looking Glass Rock in the distance behind me.

John Rock from below.

October 17, 2005. We took possession of our Casita travel trailer. It has proven to be the best single purchase we've made as far as our leisure time is concerned.

Blackrock Mountain, near Clayton, Georgia. Our first trip using the Casita as a base camp.

The heavily forested ridges of Tamassee Knob in upstate South Carolina.

Wolf Rock near Sparta, North Carolina.

And so concludes my list of mountains hiked in 2005. It was a very busy hiking year for me.


Ian Saylor said...

Well, that bear-at-the-campground story sounds like it was fun. What are your thoughts about other people using tents at campgrounds? Do you feel that they're taking a pretty big risk? I'm already fairly hesitant about taking my toddler to the Smokies for this very reason. I love the outdoors, and want to expose him to it, but let's face it, there are some inherent dangers.

HemlockMan said...

It's really not a risk. If you keep your food locked away, it's not a problem, usually. This was a problem bear. The next morning we spoke with the campground host and he told us that the bear terrorized the campground from one end to the other during the night (188 campsites!). But he never attacked anyone or made a move that looked like he would bite or claw anyone. They brought in dogs the following day and chased him off.

The bears in the Smokies are no longer acclimated to identifying humans with food. I rarely see bears in the Smokies around the campgrounds (I go there a lot). I do see them in the park, but rarely around the campgrounds.

I still go backpacking into the backcountry. I do that alone. I've never been bothered by a bear or even had one approach my campsite when I'm way back in the wilderness.

My wife sometimes misses the tent camping and suggest that we do that from time to time. An hour after the bear ran off that night, she was fast asleep. I was the one jumping up at ever crackle of a dry leaf or snapping of a twig.