I went hiking at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia yesterday, and the last creature I expected to see was a black bear. I knew I’d see plenty of deer―and some turkey vultures, and some mice and chipmunks and squirrels scampering on the rocks and between the trees, months ago stripped of all their leaves.
I was pretty certain that the bears, just as March turned, would still be in their dens, and I’d have to come back some weeks later if I’d have any chance of seeing one.
But it’s been a mild winter, and there were some flowers and buds poking out of the ground. And by golly, there were bears that did more than poke their heads out of their dens, too. So just as I was leaving the park, I caught a glimpse of this little fellow right by the side of the road. I’ve seen bears in Banff and Yellowstone, and in others settings outside of national parks, but each time, it’s a thrill to see one in the wild.
You spend hours traveling and hiking, but this will be the most lasting memory of this trip―this beautiful creature nervously looking back at me and then scampering deep into the forest and out of my sight.