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Scott H. 09-27-2009 11:09 PM

Campsite 24 - Bear
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!


JohnH0802 09-28-2009 10:00 AM

You never can tell about wild animals. Good report!

flyman 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.

sammcdonald 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.

silvercreek 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.

sammcdonald 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

spotlight 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.


sammcdonald 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

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