Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grinning Down a Bear

We live in Tennessee, the home of Davy Crockett, who was known for "grinning down a bear." When we went on vacation last week to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, little did we know that we'd be "grinning down a bear" too.

On our first day of hiking, I decided on an easy hike to test Matthew's stamina. After his grueling surgery, I didn't know how much energy he'd have. So we hiked to Laurel Falls. It was beautiful.

Me, cooling off in the mountain snow fed falls. Bliss.

Sons enjoying the hike.

In the photo below are my guys on our hike out from the falls, right before we met the bear.

Not long after the above photo, we saw a mama bear in a ravine with four cubs. But she was too far away for good pictures. So Jacob (orange shirt) suggested we go farther down the trail where the path would angle right next to the ravine. We decided to go for it.

When we finally got there, there wasn't any sign of the bears. So Jacob walked about 50 feet down a footpath and looked up the ravine. I heard the cracking of branches but didn't see anything. So I started down the footpath. Immediately, Jacob held up his arms and waved me back. Slowly, he backed up the trail as the mama bear came out of the brush less than 50 feet away. 

Here she is coming out of cover, sniffing the spot where Jake had been standing only moments before.

Checking on her cubs.

Staring us down as she began walking up the footpath toward us. We grinned and backed away slowly.
 Okay, not too slowly. But not running either, didn't want to seem like easy prey.

 The next day, I decide to try something less scary. I misread the guide. While we didn't see any critters, the hike I chose was a rock climb. Up a mountain.
At the end of the hike, the incline became almost vertical. Even steeper than it looks here. And if you slipped, there was nothing to break your fall. Until you reached the valley below. (The forestry service had posted "At your own risk" signs.)


  1. Wow! That must have been an amazing experience to have seen a bear so close!

  2. Crazy! What an incredible story to get to tell--the time you climbed a mountain and stared down a bear!