Saturday, March 6, 2010


Bears don't enter my thoughts every day. Maybe on the rare occasion when I recount "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or read Winnie the Pooh to the littles. So I have no idea why today, in the midst of my solo snowshoe trek across conservation land, I thought of bears.

I did note some disturbances in the pristine snow. That flurry of cloven prints. Surely deer or some other innocuous herbivore. But those others? Those were paw prints. They could easily be dog. Not bear. Were there even bears in New Hampshire? Alaska, yes, but New Hampshire? I didn't know. Both places were cold and had snow and had few people.

Bear kept crossing my mind, distracting me from the rhythmic crunch of my snowshoes, the crystalline sunny day. I peered into the woods. No bears.

What should I do if I encountered a bear? I deeply, deeply regretted not googling this before I left. Should I stand stock still and silent? Don't bears have poor vision and sense of smell? Or just poor vision? Was that some other predator? Or do I holler and wave my poles about? I didn't want to be New Hampshire's 1st or 4th or 85th bear fatality of the year.

Then it hit me. Surely the bears are all hibernating. It's winter after all. What a relief! I trekked on, firmly ignoring the little tickle in the back of my mind. It's March and warm. Maybe they've woken and are hungry. And what about mountain lions...?

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