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Old 01-09-2015, 02:52 PM   #1
Boreal Fox
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What was your closest ADK bear encounter?

I love the ADKs especially because of how much different wildlife you come across on any given day, especially in the wilderness areas. Considering bears are the biggest animal in the ADKs, I was interested in other peopels' closest bear encounters and if they were friendly or hostile.

I'd have to say my closest was this past summer in the Five Ponds wilderness, coming back from a few days hiking and only a few hours from returning to the car when 30 feet up there were 3 bear cubs and a big momma bear on the trail coming out of bushes. My friend turned her back to the bears and started walking really fast back down the trail at which point the momma bear stood up on her hind legs, at which point I decidedly raised my staff and proceeded to yell at her to go away, upon which she got back down and ran down the trail. I started walking ahead a few moments later but then a 4th cub crawled out of the bushes! Needless to say I enjoyed every moment of the experience and didn't feel there was any danger but given there were 4 cubs I would think if I tried to run up and grab one under each arm and run away there would be a bit of a bear wrestling match and I'd probably lose.

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Old 01-09-2015, 04:04 PM   #2
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I've encountered bears on 5 different occasions in the Adirondacks. The first time was when I was young, car camping with my family at a campground (I think near Old Forge). While driving by the campground dumpster one night, we saw several bears take off into the woods. The bears were probably only about 15 feet away, but we were inside the car, so it really didn't feel all that close.

The second time was in the late Spring of 2010. While hiking in to Spruce Lake to help my uncle with lean-to adoption duties, I encountered 2 bear cubs in a tree alongside the trail. I never saw mom, but I could hear her take off through the woods nearby. After a couple of seconds, the cubs jumped down out of a tree and ran off after their mother. Again, they were probably only about 15 feet away.

The third time I saw a bear was in the summer of 2012 while I was driving near the town of Adirondack, on the east shore of Schroon Lake. An adult bear ran across the road in front of my car. It was probably only about 30 or 40 feet in front of me.

The fourth time was while backpacking on Taylor Pond in the northern Adirondacks in early spring of 2013. After setting up camp at one of the lean-tos on the north shore, I decided to bushwhack up Douglass Mountain. On the return hike back to the lean-to, I heard something big crash through the woods nearby, and a few moments later noticed the obvious bear tracks in the snow. Not long after, I happened to look up and notice that there was a bear cub far up in one of the trees directly overhead. The cub was probably at least 40 or 50 feet above me. I never saw any other sign of mom, and I was able to quickly get a picture before moving on:

The fifth time I encountered bears was this past summer (2014), while bushwhacking in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. Shortly after arriving at the summit of Potter Mountain, I observed 2 bear cubs in a pine tree about 75 feet away. Again, I never saw mom but I could hear her crashing through the underbrush as she ran away. After a couple of seconds, the cubs also jumped down out of the tree and followed her. I was able to get a picture, it's a bit difficult to see but if you look closely, there are 2 cubs in the tree:

My closest bear encounter ever, however, wasn't in the Adirondacks but in the mountains of north Georgia this past spring (2014). This little feller was hanging around near the cabin that I was living in at the time:

He'd obviously lost all of his fear of humans and had no qualms about approaching quite close to people- within a few feet even. We called the Georgia DNR and they sent a wildlife specialist out to pick him up. The DNR guy said that the cub was actually over a year old, had likely hibernated someplace near the cabin (possibly even beneath it), and was super malnourished and extremely small for his age. He speculated that it's mother had either been killed or had abandoned her cub. The DNR was going to try to find a wildlife rehabilitator that would be willing to take the cub in, but the guy didn't sound too hopeful that there would be one able to do so, in which case they were probably going to have to euthanize it. I never did find out what happened to it.

BTW, I think moose probably outclass bears as the "biggest" animal in the Adirondacks.

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Old 01-09-2015, 07:37 PM   #3
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"There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go." -from "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service

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Old 01-09-2015, 11:02 PM   #4
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They go through my back yard in Western Mass fairly often. In the ADKS I've mostly seen them near camping areas. When I was first going to the Loj campground in the 80s, there were often bears moving through (for a couple of years one of them liked to enter & exit via site 28, my favorite). I've also seen them a couple of times near Avalanche & Colden lakes, and once near the campsite near Hanging Spear Falls. All those times were years ago.

The only time I've seen one really in the woods, away from camps, was in the Hurricane Mt. area, again years ago. It was one of my first extensive bushwhacks & I got lost due to several mistakes I wouldn't make now. I decided to head south since I knew I'd hit the Hurricane Rd, or at least 9N. But I wanted to get to road before dark to avoid an overnight & maybe a search, so I started jogging. I came into a small stream valley practically on top of a bear, which ran much faster than me in the other direction. I don't blame it, with some maniac rushing out of the woods in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:04 AM   #5
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In over 35 years of hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and bushwhacking in the Adirondacks I still have yet to see a black bear in the wild. The closest I came (so far) was when my father and I were camped at the Murphy Lake lean to many years ago and a cub was wandering around our campsite out of sight but barking at us all night long for two nights straight, and a couple years ago my buddy and I heard some loud huffing and puffing across the creek from us while we were camped along the South Branch West Canada Creek, but it was too foggy and dark to get a visual. Another time just a couple years ago in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness I heard something fairly large moving through the brush while I was lying in my tent. I got out to investigate and what ever it was made a mad dash for the water and swam away breathing heavily. Again it was too dark and foggy to see anything.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:00 AM   #6
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Several years ago, my wife and I were setting out on a multi-day canoe trip to Lows Lake. As we approached the landing at Hitchins Pond to begin the carry, we saw we on a collision course with a large bear swimming across the pond. We closed to within less than fifty feet when he abruptly took a left turn and swam across the pond. Unfortunately he exited in some thick brush so we couldn't see how big he was, but his head was massive. Later that afternoon, we were camped on an island in Lows (site 14, IIRC) when we saw another (much smaller) bear swimming from the mainland towards the far end of our island. This unnerved us a bit, so we prepared and ate dinner earlier than we'd planned, followed by an assiduous clean up of our site. We didn't see it again. Two swimming bears in one day. Who'd a thunk it?

Those have been my only sightings in the Adirondacks in thirty+ years of visiting.

I've seen bears more often in the Catskills, including three in three visits to Whittaker State Forest near Deposit, and also at Kelly Hollow. All skedaddled when they saw me.
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:19 AM   #7
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I've seen several bears in the woods and we have an agreement; I won't bother them if they don't bother me. However, a couple years ago, my youngest daughter and I were hiking on the trail to Pine Orchard from Pumpkin Hollow Rd. We had just started out and were still in the CCC pine plantation, within sight of PH Rd.

It was a very windy day and the noise in the pine grove was appreciable. As we approached the Willis Lake outlet, I heard a branch break ahead of us. By the time I saw the bear, it was less than 20 yds away headed straight at us. I jumped in front of my daughter (8 yr. old) and raised my hands and yelled "Hey bear"! as loud as I could. The bear stopped, did a 180°, and ran back down the trail at the speed of heat.

I was a little unnerved since the bear had gotten so close us. What if... ran through my mind all day. I still think about the incident several years later. My daughter thought it was cool. She was right, it was pretty cool.
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:09 AM   #8
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I average seeing one bear a year. Usually they're running away. I've had two close sightings that were not friendly. Most memorable was sitting on porch at dusk and having one walk right up to screen. At the last second he veered off to the grill. Reacted belligerently when I yelled to scare him off.
That was the fist time I realized they're wild and unpredictable. Most times they run off occasionally they don't.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:33 PM   #9
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In 2013, 20 yards away on Snowy Mountain Trail. 1979 Hiking near Big Moose Lake.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:56 PM   #10
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Standing on the hood of my car. Indian Lake Village dump. That was back in the 1970's when such entertainment was encouraged.

More lately..all rear end sightings near Paul Smiths.
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:47 PM   #11
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On my very first "on my own" canoe trip in 1975...I was 19 years old. A buddy and I were paddling from Old Forge to Tupper.
We were just downstream from Buttermilk Falls when my buddy in the bow start whispering at a scream "It's a BEAR, it's a f***ing BEAR". The big guy swam across the river in front of us, not more than 30 feet away, climbed out on a little bitty island, shook off from nose to tail like a shaggy dog. I scrambled for my camera and got a really good photo of my buddy's shoulder! The bear then romped across the island, about four leaps for him, and slipped in the water and swam quickly to the other side of the river. We watched as he scampered up the hill towards the road to Forked. As we drifted and discussed what we just saw, we heard a car horn blast, no doubt for the benefit of that same bear on a mission.

I have seen dozens of mamas, cubs and big boys, but all were at DEC campsites or at the local dumps. Even though I have been playing in the Adirondacks for over 50 years, that one on the Raquette was the only one I ever saw in its natural habitat.
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:41 PM   #12
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My most memorable , I was 6 , maybe 7 years old at the time , Late afternoon / early evening I was walking down the dirt road ( narrow single lane ) from camp. At a "Y" in the road there were always a few blueberry bushes right by the road on the far side from where I was coming from. I got to about the middle of that "Y" in the road when a bear stood up on its hind feet from behind the berry bush 20 feet in front of me. I froze in place and after an eternity ( probably 3 or 4 seconds ) I uttered something like "Boo" and the bear dropped down on all fours , looked at me again and just bounded off into the woods.
When I got back to camp and told about what happened , my Dad asked if I " brought any of the blueberries back with me ? ". I said " No , he was there first so I let him have them . "

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” —Herbert Spencer

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Old 01-10-2015, 09:10 PM   #13
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Bear in our campsite on one of the islands on Lake Lila. Footprints on the beach when we landed and setup, then we made some noise coming back after a full moon evening paddle and saw eyes on the beach. Later that same night a ruckus in camp - our food was hung and bagged - but 1 member of the party left an unopened can of beans on the ground under the hang... we found it with punctures in the morning about 15' away.
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Old 01-11-2015, 02:56 AM   #14
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I've encountered about two dozen black bears in the Adirondacks throughout my life. Closest (physically) was about 2 years ago as I was making a push to finish my 46. It was on the trail just sort of relaxing and blocking the path. I shooed it off. It moved to about 15 or 20 yards off trail and I walked by it at that distance. It seemed kind of annoyed with me, like when I ask my dog to move to the other end of the couch.

Most memorable was when I was 5 or 6. One of the first camping trips I have a memory of. Was at Lewey Lake and a bear walked into our campsite, ignored us, went right to the cooler (one of those big, old Coleman coolers) and lifted it up and started shaking it. We had retreated to the car and pulled out of the site at that point. It eventually meandered out of the site, past our car on the campground road, and off into the woods.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:56 AM   #15
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I've encountered two bear sightings in Newcomb. The first was in 1999, two cubs and the mother crossed Goodnow Flow Rd while I was getting water at the spring located at the ski lift.

The second one was in 2012 at the Tall Pines/Goodnow flow rd intersection. I was driving to the camp around 1am and saw a large bear in the middle of the road. He quickly ran off into the woods when i stopped the car in front of him.
"Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake" -John Denver
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:48 AM   #16
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After reading through some of the posts in this thread, I just realized how odd it is that I've never seen a black bear in the High Peaks, despite all the time I've spent there. I've spent very little time in the Eastern High Peaks in the summer, though, and I've only camped at Lake Colden once in the summer, and never camped at Marcy Dam in the summer.
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Old 01-11-2015, 02:01 PM   #17
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Only one myself ...and I'm a life-long ADK resident ... it was seven years ago, the bear was swimming the north end of Elk Lake....When I was a kid growing up in Lake George Village, they'd get into the garbage at my father's club house, just a block away (before the Northway). They've been seen in downtown LG up to about 20 years ago.
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Old 01-11-2015, 04:06 PM   #18
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Closest one was the one that woke me up by sniffing the back of my head while i was sleeping in my hammock on big island in raquette lake. That was something.
"Ahh! The old fishing hole... so peaceful and relaxing. Doesn't even matter if I catch a single fish -- ah! Come on you stupid fish, take the bait! Don't make me come down there!" -Homer Simpson
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:17 PM   #19
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With my own eyes ADK-

-Oliver Hill, must have spooked it and saw its behind as it was running away, maybe 50 or so yds.

-Restaurant garbage dump

Trail cam-
-less than 10 miles from the blue line, many times

Closest encounter was at Harriman State Park. Group of around 10-12 of us around campfire eating, didn't notice her walk up till she was 20-30 ft away, bunch of us stood up yelling and it calmly turned and walked away.
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:53 PM   #20
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As a youth I spent my summer's camping at the Parmenter site on Carry Falls Reservoir,16 small sites,and the bears would come through at night and knock over the garbage cans,but one morning I unzipped the tent and was face to face with an adult bear.That was very close!! One time while going through the "narrows" (boating) we observed a bear dash from the woods take quick dip get out shake off and head right back into the woods. As for other sightings they were more along the entertainment lines when the Cranberry Lake dump was in operation (1980's) many bears scavenging in a single evening. Also had a small bear dash across Rte 30 just north of the Lake Eaton access rd about ten years ago.
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