Looking Danger Square In the Eye

Good morning from Buckeye Flats

Good, Vibrant Morning! by Marybeth Haydon

TRAVELING ALONG THIS IMPRESSIVE RIVER, WHICH IS FLOWING NORTHWEST, paralleling the coast, I scramble up a hill for a photo op. Standing as close to the edge of my perch as safely possible, I hesitate to begin shooting. The awe and power of the river is complimented by the fantastic diversity of the rock walls and it is commanding my full attention. Clearly, iron dominates the rock canyon, leaving a fantastic rusty patina which is frequently interrupted with dark green trees and shrub. Gray to black mudstones, siltstones and sandstones further the pleasant variations. Even a swipe of golden brown color to complete the picture.

Rough pallet of color

Rugged Pallet of Color by Marybeth Haydon

The river’s edge cuts a raw, white, jagged saw tooth line, the salt-crusted shoreline and boulders that rise above the water, where the natural water’s pulse and current spray have frequently misted the protruding boulders, scatter these highlights throughout the landscape. The current is intense, furious whenever the canyon walls insinuate upon the channel.
There is an odd, captivating rock formation close to the more turbulent section of the channel. It appears as though molten gray rock has spilled from the canyon wall with a round, spoon-shaped end closest to the water’s edge with its wide handle, ladle-like, balancing on the upper riverbank.  This salmon-frequented river flows primarily northeast before changing course to southern pastures and wetlands.

7-17-12 Leaving Fortuna 011

Interesting Color Contrast by Marybeth Haydon

Only a few hours into the trek and I’m met with dry-grass contrasting a man-made path with lush forests of oak and pines and other trees that I can’t distinguish, looming into its distant future. This revs my energy level, the promise of cooler, green pastures is inviting.

It doesn’t take long to leave signs of civilization behind and soon the hushed, fog-covered forest embraces my curious nature.  Every step is soft, debris-mulched and fragrant under my boot.

This is true paradise.

Burlington campground Fortuna CA 092

Lush Greenery Abounds by Marybeth Haydon

On up the trail I continue, not knowing just why I feel I should get really deep into the forest today but I am very happy to be here, doing what I’m doing.  The scenery never gets old, thank You God. The wildflowers are in full bloom and some are exceedingly fragrant. Their youth is renewed every spring, man, what a thrill that must be! I continue to scan the ubiquitous plant life and deeply inhale the surrounding scents. The perfume of the forest, nothing can beat it. The fragrances change as I proceed, pine mingling with wild licorice, licorice mingling with bay, bay mingling with mustard … I’m not sure if the oak trees have a scent but their dropped acorns are like marbles under my boots.

There is a spot reserved for me under a very large sequoia, its branches outstretched in a welcoming, “Come hither, under my canopy and rest.”  I oblige.  I remove my pack, habitually snapping the belt closed and settle down for a snack.  The sound of rusting paper from my energy bar has apparently alerted many creatures, the most forward and aggressive of which is the scrub jay in front of me.  Not far behind are a few squirrels & chipmunks in various stages of anticipation and wariness, and I’m beginning to wonder where Thumper and Bambi are.

I ignore the advancing blue jay and tip my head back to see if I can see any sky.  What I do see sends my heart racing and my hands shaking.

My head now on a swivel, I check my surroundings more thoroughly, then up again into the trees.  I begin to rise, keeping my eyes on the trees above me, moving ever so carefully, forcing slow and deliberate movement.

Where is mama bear?

Two curious black bear cubs are peeking down and over the foliage of the pine that is right next to the big sequoia that I am against.  Still looking up, I reach for my pack, once again thankful for my habit of cinching the belt, and toss my power bar over past the oak that holds the cubs. Backing away, thankful for the soft, cushy debris and needle-carpeted ground I am looking everywhere. Seriously everywhere. Behind me, above me, beside me. No longer does my immediate forest hold a critter audience, the animals have left town.

I just can not even believe this is happening.

cubs in monrovia

Black bear cubs. courtesy Google images

My heart ratchets yet another level as I swing my eyes towards the scraping, then soft thump sound.  NO WAY! Those cubs are heading towards me, SNAP! I speak firmly to them, “No bear!” but apparently they don’t understand English. The larger of the two is still, although a bit hesitant, coming forward. I am nearly paralyzed with fear. WHERE IS MAMA BEAR?

Lord, please

I bump into a bush, maybe a tree I don’t really care and could not afford to be distracted with finding out. My entire body is shaking, my muscles feel weak, defenseless  and inadequate. I sneak a look and find the path I came in on still backing away. Both cubs seem to be very perplexed, the smaller a bit distracted with a flying insect of sorts, the other looking from its sibling then to me, sizing up the situation.  Thankfully they are remaining grounded where they are.  But for how long, and the million dollar question: Where’s mama bear?!

I need not wonder any longer.

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Angry bear courtesy Google images

Emerging from the underbrush, sending a fleeting glance toward my power bar, is protective mama bear!  She brawls at her cubs like a mother admonishing her children for straying beyond the yard, then gives her full, very direct attention to me.  Somehow I continue to back away, averting eye contact, wild and insane thoughts swirling through my mind. Out of the corner of my eye I see the cubs scrambling up a tree to safety.  Obedient children now that mom’s back.

Realizing that I have been shaking my head in a “no, no, no!” while retreating further, I force every cell, every adrenalin dump into sniper-concentrated focus.  I know the choices on what to do, now how on earth do I choose which avenue to take?  “Read the body language” comes back to memory and I continue backing away, not saying a word, my hands needlessly out in a “stay away” gesture.

Mama grunts threats, her sounds deep and quite menacing, then makes a swipe at the ground in front of her, sending dust and sticks flying into the air, shaking her lowered head. I’m reminded of a bull about to charge and I’m certain I’m going to lose it completely, right here. Right now.  She has not charged me, I take this as a very good sign.  I am still backing away when suddenly I’m falling, and I still haven’t landed yet!

Tangled in brush and briars, I look up the hill to see if she has decided to follow, then end me.  Piece by piece, Marybeth-mulch nourishing the forest. At this point I have lost all reason, tearing my clothes and skin as I thrash through the sticky under brush in full panic mode. I don’t see her, I have lost my pack somewhere along the fall and I no longer care. I am completely overcome with irrational fear as I begin to run down the trail.  DO NOT RUN FROM A PREDATOR but I figure after the fall that I’m far enough away and I’m around the bend so that she can’t see me? Panic trumps reason, it really does.

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Paradise behind me. Courtesy Google images

I am back to the manmade pathway, out of the dense forest and I have not heard any movement or growl behind me since the fall but every fiber of my being is still at high alert. I collapse in a sobbing heap, then I begin to laugh. I think perhaps I’m hysterical, just a thought.

Once I recovered and was shakily on my way home I was first, exceedingly grateful that I was reasonably unharmed. Physically. Emotionally I’ll probably never be the same. I thought about the good habit of keeping my keys and phone separate from my pack and for the habit of always fastening my pack belt. Even though I lost my pack, had I not fallen, I would have had it for minute protection or for the first aid kit inside it.

Establishing good hiking habits and knowing how to interpret and react to animal behavior goes a very long way. Even when you mess up the best laid plans.

red daisy

For information on safety, signs of presence, and first aid please click: 

Pt 1    http://ow.ly/gY1Yn    Pt 2  http://ow.ly/gY1UB      Pt 3    http://ow.ly/gY1Og    Fight or Flight

Visit me on Facebook  http://ow.ly/hycIm    or at Twitter  http://twitter.com/MarybethHaydon

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Bear Attacks on the Rise, Raising Safety Concerns

GTY_grizzly_bear_jt_130818_16x9_992 animal growlAt least six people have been mauled in a spate of bear attacks in five states over the last week, raising questions about why there have been so many incidents this year.

On Saturday a hunter in the northern Alaskan wilderness was the latest person to be injured in a bear attack. The hunter had to be saved by helicopter after he was mauled by a brown bear and suffered severe blood loss.

The attacks on hunters and hikers come just before the start of hibernation season, as hungry bears search for food before settling in for winter. But the number of bear attacks is up across the country. In Yellowstone alone, there have been 64 percent more attacks so far this year than there were last year.

The first bear attack happened in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on Thursday. After grizzly cubs wandered close to a group of four hikers, the mother grizzly bear charged at the group. Two of the hikers were attacked by the bear. One of the men was clawed and bitten on his backside.

The grizzly bear and her cubs were scared off after the other two unharmed hikers deployed bear spray.

“This bear by all accounts was acting on instinct, defending its cub. That is natural and normal behavior for a sow grizzly,” park spokesman Al Nash told The Associated Press.

The injured hiker was treated for his injuries and released. The attack was the first bear attack of the year in the park.

Yellowstone regulations require all visitors to stay 100 yards from any grizzly or black bear. Hikers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.

In 2011, two hikers were killed in two seperate grizzly bear attacks in Yellowstone.

Man Killed by Grizzly in Yellowstone Visting ‘Place He Loved’

Less than an hour after that inital attack, two habitat researchers in Idaho were attacked by a grizzly bear that they had unknowingly awoken.

The bear attacked one of the men before his partner could use bear spray, Gregg Losinski of Idaho Fish and Game told ABC News. When the unharmed man pulled out the bear spray, the grizzly bear attacked his hands.

Eventually the men were able to get away from the bear and seek medical attention at the Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho.

“The biggest worry is infection, as bears do not have clean teeth,” Losinski said. The men suffered treatable but substantial injuries.

But in addition to these attacks that occurred deep in the wilderness, a 12-year-old girl was attacked near her home in Cadillac, Mich., on Thursday.

Summer of the Bear: From a Graduation Ceremony to a Backyard Pool

Abby Wetherell was jogging on a trail in her neighborhood when she was attacked by a black bear. She tried to run away but the bear caught up with her. According to her grandfather Dave Wetherall, Abbey played dead and then screamed for help.

“We’re very proud of the way she handled herself,” her grandfather, David Wetherell, told the AP. “She’s kind of amazed us.”

Abbey’s father and a neighbor came to her aid after she screamed, and they found her with gashes on her leg. The bear had already run back into the woods.

Man Feeds Bear BBQ Before Being Attacked

The 12-year-old was taken to Munson Medical Center and was in good condition according to ABCNews.com affiliate WZZM-TV.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the state has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000, with 90 percent located in northern Michigan, where Cadillac is located.

However, black bear attacks on humans are highly unusual and occur mainly when a bear feels her cubs are threatened, according to the Department of Natural Resources. People who are attacked by black bears are encouraged to stand their ground and not back away or play dead.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is actively searching for the black bear that attacked Abby by setting bear traps and has plans to euthanize the bear after it is caught.

In spite of the attack, Dave Wetherall told WZZM-TV his granddaughter wasn’t afraid of getting back on the trail.

“She’s a hunter, she likes the woods, she’s just a very tough, kind person,” Wetherall said.

Get right with God, these are critical life and death times & circumstances that we are in. What does tomorrow hold for any one of us? Car accident? Sudden heart attack? A coworker gone postal?

For YOUR eternal salvation, this benefits me nothing but benefits you beyond mortal description. Pray this in faith, I can’t pray if for you:

Jesus, I am a sinner and I come to You as my Savior. I repent of my sins and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died to cleanse me of my sins, please cleanse me now. You died and rose again, be my personal Savior Who lives forever.

Bear Mauling, Woman Traumatized

a698603+1bear060613 killed bearBear mauls Aitkin County woman; first bear attack in Minn. in 7 years

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 5, 2013 – 6:27 PM

The animal, which was later shot by a conservation officer, may have been defending its three yearlings.

Over the past few days, Darlene Baglio had seen at least one black bear lurking around her north-central Minnesota yard, so she was being extra cautious about letting her dog out.

On Monday evening, the 72-year-old McGregor woman carefully surveyed the scene outside her door to make sure no bears were in sight. She saw none, so let her 6-year-old golden retriever run out.

But hidden beneath her deck were three yearling bears, and their 190-pound mother was nearby, out of Baglio’s view. The young bears took off, with the dog in hot pursuit.

When Baglio reached the bottom of her deck stairs, she saw the sow nearby. At first it ran toward the dog, but when Baglio called out for the dog, the bear changed direction and came at her, striking her left arm and side with its claws and knocking her to the ground, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources account of the rare attack. The bear retreated, then attacked a second time, biting her on the right arm and leg. It then ran off toward the yearlings.

Conservation officer Lt. Brent Speldrich, who arrived after Baglio’s 7 p.m. 911 call, found the bears about 200 yards away. When the sow ran at him, he shot and killed it. Under DNR policy and state law, conservation officers and other police officers may kill a bear if it is considered a threat to public safety.

The attack on Baglio was the first black-bear attack in Minnesota in seven years and just the fifth case in the past 25 years. She was hospitalized with puncture wounds to her arms, side and right leg. She was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Baglio couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. “She’s been very traumatized by this incident,” said Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director.

Wildlife officials said the bears probably were in the Aitkin County yard to eat birdseed from a feeder and that the attack probably occurred because the sow felt threatened by Baglio and her dog.

Baglio’s dog has been sighted in the area, but was still missing Wednesday.

‘Not typical’ bear behavior

With 12,000 to 15,000 black bears in Minnesota, bears and people frequently encounter each other, but rarely have serious conflicts, said DNR research scientist Dave Garshelis.

“It takes a lot to provoke a female bear to attack somebody,” Garshelis said. “This is not typical behavior of a bear. They are more scared of us than we are of them. … There are occasionally bold bears that attack people [in North America]. To me, this doesn’t sound like a bold bear, but rather a bear scared and put in an unusual situation through no one’s fault.”

The 40- to 50-pound yearlings normally would have separated from their mother sometime in early June anyway, so they should be fine without her, Garshelis said.

He noted that homeowners in bear country — which includes roughly the northern half of the state — can take precautions to avoid bear conflicts.

“These are wild animals, and they are unpredictable when put in situations like this that cause stress and confusion,” Garshelis said. “I would assume this incident would convince people in the area to take their bird feeders down, at least for a while.”

Bears eat ants and vegetation this time of year; berries won’t supplement their diets until July. “Sunflower seeds are exceptionally nutritious food for bears, so it’s not surprising they’d be attracted to that, especially now,” Garshelis said.

The presence of the yearlings probably led to this attack, he said.

“There are some rare cases across North America where black bears attack people because they see them as prey,” he said. “This was not one of those cases.”

The one known such case in Minnesota occurred in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1987, when a black bear mauled a Minnetonsa man in an unprovoked attack, and only the efforts of his son to fight off the bear saved his life. He was flown out of the wilderness and was hospitalized with 19 puncture wounds, but survived.

Three other Minnesota bear attacks that caused serious injuries:

• In 2002, a bear attacked a grouse researcher near Milaca. He suffered broken facial bones, puncture wounds to his head and left leg, and a broken fibula.

• In 2003, near Grand Marais, a woman was mauled by a female bear she found in her garage.

• In 2005, a woman walking her dog in the woods southwest of Duluth was mauled by a black bear. She fought the bear, hitting it in the nose, but suffered serious injuries.

None of the Minnesota attacks was fatal, officials said.