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.