View Full Version : Campsite 24 - Bear

Scott H.
09-27-2009, 11:09 PM
My buddy and I drove up from Georgia Thursday with the intent to camp at #24 and fish for a couple of days before driving to Pigeon Forge to meet up with the wives and kids Sat. evening.

After stopping in at Little River Outfitters and chatting with Bill (and picking up some necessary items), we headed up to the trailhead. We chatted with a ranger at the station when we got our permit, and proceeded to the trailhead.

As we started up the trail, it began to rain. No problem. Put on the rainjackets and continue on our way. We passed a couple of hikers on the way up. The water looked good (a little on the high side), but good.
The rain continued the entire hike up (so much for 20% chance of showers), and the water was beginning to rise.

By the time we got to the campsite, rough creek and Little River were getting up there, and we had to wade across rough creek. That is when things got interesting.

We looked at the first campsite on the right. I was contemplating going up the trail and checking out the other sites when my buddy Lee said "Scott, come here." I had a feeling I knew what he saw, and went over to see a bear about 100 yards up the trail coming down towards us. We moved over to the left of the trail, and it spotted us. This is when I expected the bear to take off, just like the other bears I have seen in the wild have done. Only this bear had other ideas. It just came ambling down the trail eyeing us the whole time.
It went into the campsite and sat there staring at us from about 40 yards. I wasn't panicked, but was looking for a rock just in case. Lee was fumbling through has bag looking for his camera. He has been a hunter all his life and has harvested one bear, but this one was as close as he had been to one on the ground. As he looked for his camera, I watched the bear. It was a mature bear, not a cub. It looked at us and then started walking toward us. When it got to about 25 yards, we both stood up and hollered. It took one more step, and we both threw rocks. It slowly walked back into the rhododendrum and then sat and watched us. I told Lee I wasn't camping there, and we started to hike back down.

On the hike back down we saw another full grown bear crossing the trail about 1/2 a mile above the trailhead. It saw us and took off running. Now that's the way a bear is supposed to act!

When we got out, we reported the bear to the Rangers. They said we did the right things, and they filled out a report.

Somebody has obviously fed this bear or left food, and it ate it because it definitely associated us with food. That is a shame. I don't know what will happen to it.

It turned out o.k. though because it poured down rain Thurs., Fri. and Sat.
I heard they evacuated Elkmont, so maybe it was a good thing we didn't stay up at 24.

We did fish some on Friday off the quiet walkways on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon and above Elkmont. The water was high, but I managed 4 small rainbows.

We will be back though. Beautiful up there!


09-28-2009, 10:00 AM
You never can tell about wild animals. Good report!

09-28-2009, 10:21 AM
That may have been a good decision as much rain as they had this weekend. BTW, I think i've seen the bear you are talking about in that area.http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y166/flyman1/random%20junk/1236725959.png

09-28-2009, 04:19 PM
campsite 24 has been posted for bear almost all summer and fall.....when planning your trips, be sure to check the park website for warnings and closures.

09-28-2009, 05:13 PM
I'm surprised the ranger did not mention it when they picked up their permit if it has been posted.

09-28-2009, 07:39 PM
Trailheads Closed
Trailhead access from roads within Cosby Campground to Lower Mount Cammerer Trail, Snake Den Ridge Trail, and Low Gap Trail are closed to facilitate repaving the campground. Although trailhead access from within the campground is closed, these trails will remain open and hikers can access them via connecting trails from the nearby Picnic Area parking lots.

Bear Warnings - areas where bears are active. Please read What Do I Do If I See A Bear? for important safety information about bears.
• Backcountry Campsites 6, 19, 21, 24, 28, 34, 36, 40, and 84
• Cosby Knob Shelter
• Double Spring Gap Shelter
• Mollies Ridge Shelter
• Mt Collins Shelter
• Mt LeConte Shelter
• Tricorner Knob Shelter
• Abrams Falls Trail
• Crooked Arm Ridge Trail (lower portion)
• Gabes Mountain Trail
• Laurel Falls Trail
• Little River Trail
• Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls area)

Backcountry Campsites and Shelters Closed
• Backcountry Campsites 10, 15, 29, 35, 37, and 113
• Russell Field Shelter

09-28-2009, 08:38 PM
Scott, I think I ran into you guys on your way up there you showed me how to tie a blood knot great bear story we seen 2 on that trail 2 weeks ago but they paid us no mind and kept running.

Scott H.
09-28-2009, 10:59 PM
Yes, that was me. No problem on the knot. I hope you had a good day fishing.

Campsite 24 was not closed when we got there on Thursday.

We checked with the ranger, and he said there was a bear warning, but there almost always was one there.

I have read the proper way to act when encountering a bear, and I have encountered a few, but never one that was as curious or as fearless as this one.


09-28-2009, 11:26 PM
we had a large male on the patio at sugarlands recently....and a mom and cubs behind the building friday....
the fighting creek nature trail will be covered with bears soon...hickory trees

Jim Casada
09-29-2009, 12:55 PM
Sam--I'm curious and thought you might know given your "insider" connections. Is the Park doing anything different in their approach to bear problems? I can't recall as many campsite closures, encounters, and general problems with bears in years. My brother took a hike a couple of weeks back and said he saw four campsites (I think all were along the AT) with closed signs and at a fifth one campers had experienced problems and left a note to that effect.

Way back, when bear jams and too much feeding became a problem (I'm talking the 1960s) they actually "spanked" bears for a time. This involved tranquilizing them with a dart, as I understand it, then giving them a good thrashing before the stuff wore off. The idea was to traumatize them in terms of connection with humans.

As frequent as these encounters are becoming, and given what seems increasingly brazen bear behavior, sooner or later the Park Service will either have to take more action or face a huge problem.

Jim Casada

www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

09-29-2009, 02:30 PM
man...that's putting alot of faith in a tranquilizer....so you can whup a bear!

09-29-2009, 05:37 PM
Wow! Just don't let me wife read this thread. I was hoping to do smoe back country hiking/fishing next year.

09-29-2009, 07:20 PM
actual bear-human incidents are still minimal and generally caused by humans....lots of garbage left in the back country, people still trying to feed bears, people continually approaching bears to get "cute" pictures.....and the tossing of pampers and food and trash on the laurel falls trail (and others) is an indictment of the typical visitor to this park...why would a sane person pack a colonel sanders lunch (or other high smelly food) leave the pack unattended, and get mad when a bear takes the pack? happened 3 times that i know of this past 6 weeks or so...

Scott H.
09-29-2009, 10:12 PM
I agree 100%.
Why people feed or leave food, etc. laying around is beyond me.

Bears really don't mean us any harm if we respect them, I believe.

It's when they get conditioned by the said behaviors of people that we have issues.

09-29-2009, 11:19 PM
I thought that was you guys when I read the story and the part about it began to rain shortly after you started hiking. I seen 2 bears on that same trail 2 weeks prior but they paid me no mind and kept going. Goshen Prong and Little River Trail is where that lady was attacked and killed by a momma bear and her cubs here is the link of that story for anyone interested.


09-30-2009, 08:59 AM
People act that way because most have not been in the real woods much, if at all.....taking KFC into bear country in a pack and leaving it unattended is a sure sign that the person isn't in touch with reality when it comes to the wilderness,well,as the wilderness goes in the 21st century.
Whenever I go to a store like REI,which is a high priced,trendy gathering place for many who look the look,talk the talk,but don't walk the walk....(not all but many),well,I just figure they will spend their money and most will get their fill of the great outdoors in short order.I do buy stuff there sometimes,but not much gear.
There's all levels of outdoorsmen,I'm not at the top,but I'm a survivalist,so I tend to think of bad situations and how to get through....that includes encounters with animals.
Byron's report on high water and how people get lost or stranded on the opposite side of the stream and spending the night or more should be read and reread.

Scott H.
09-30-2009, 11:32 AM
Sounds like an interesting article.

How could one find that article?

09-30-2009, 02:59 PM
Sounds like an interesting article.

How could one find that article?
If you're referring to my post about people getting stranded....it was the fishing report for yesterday .
here ya go...http://littleriveroutfitters.com/WEBSITE-2008/pages/fishing/092909.html

Scott H.
09-30-2009, 11:47 PM
o.k. Thank you.

Horace Kephart's [U]Camping and Woodcraft[U] is a great read and I highly recommend it.

02-06-2010, 06:44 PM
I've written about this encounter before, so apologies to those of you have already read it.
Probably around 97 or 98 we were up on Hazel Creek for the weekend, we were camping at the Sawdust Pile campsite # 85. There were a couple of guys from Asheville up there that weekend as well. We had eaten dinner, one guy was still down at the creek washing his dishes, the rest of us standing around probably telling lies about the day's fishing. We had seen a bear earlier in the day crossing the creek, not giving it too much thought. Had seen a wolf that day as well, or a huge coyote, also crossing the creek, a good day. Well back to the moment around the campfire; the guys from Ashville hollered to us that a bear was coming down the creek they had just run it off. Well Ed (washing dishes) looked up just in time to see it coming, he scampered up the path to the fire with the bear not 10' behind him. By this time the Asheville contingent had walked down to join us and we all played the pots and pans for the bear. He really was not very large, I would bet 150 lb, maybe 200 lb. Well he spooked a little and climbed a large tree to the first fork (15-20 feet). It literally took that bear a couple seconds to climb that tree! He sat there in the fork looking at us for a minute or two, then down he came back toward us, our packs were foolishly still on the ground. More pot beating sent him back up the tree for another minute or two, then down he came again. At this point he stood on his back legs for a moment, then dropped down and started for the packs again, his head swaying back and forth, seemingly confident that the pots weren't going to do him any harm!
Well at this point one of the Asheville guys produced a pack of Black Cats, took the cigarette from his mouth, lit them and tossed them at the bear's feet. Well that pack of fire crackers went off and so did the bear! We didn't see him the rest of the weekend.
I carry a pack of them with me most of the time anymore, though unless I am camping I rarely have anything to light them! Of course the bear spray is maybe the best deterrent.
Now I carry the M-90's actually, I think they're less susceptible to humidity.... rain. Not sure what I would have done about that bear you all encountered though, particularly without the strength in numbers. With the guys from Asheville, there were six of us up there that night.

02-06-2010, 10:30 PM

glad to read that the firecracker trick works - I have carried a pack in my vest/backpack ever since I started backcountry fishing.

I figure that not only should it scare off nosey bears, but if injured, I don't know of any better way, short of dialing 911, to attract LE than shooting off some fireworks!