Bears. I sometimes think about them when hiking. No need to. Colorado and New Mexico – where I go – have black bears, who almost never attack. Unless.

It’s the “unless” part that gets my attention. Unless you startle one. Unless you separate a she-bear from her cubs. Unless the creature is having a bad fur day.

So I think about it.

Like yesterday morning. I was alone, over an hour from the trail head, and my son sent me a text. Now, most of my adventures are out of range for cell phones, and, even when I do get a call, I rarely pick up.

But Jon’s family was on the road and he needed directions. So I stopped and answered.

Which means I was quiet for a few minutes. Not something I do in bear country. I whistle, hum, talk to imaginary friends. I use my deepest, Marine Sergeant voice:

“Big group. Big group coming through. Big group with big guns.”

Now, I don’t know for sure it was a bear I heard in the underbrush. Sounded more like a step or two from another human.

“Who’s there”? I said.


So I kept walking, maybe a bit faster, thinking about those animal attack stories on TV. Let’s see, you challenge a mountain lion and play dead for a bear.

I wondered what I really would do. Just don’t see myself playing dead while a 400 pound animal attempts to have me for breakfast.

Then it came to me: those loud, annoying alarm sounds on my cell phone – maybe the ambulance siren or the barking dog. Surely, bears know that where there are dogs there are hunters. Surely.

Nope, didn’t get the chance to find out. But maybe one of you could test the hypothesis for me. 🙂

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