Bear encounters abound this summer
Hikers describe two tense confrontations
This is one of those summers when Adirondack bears are especially bold.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is warning backcountry users of issues with bears approaching people in the High Peaks Wilderness and other wild areas nearby.
“Campers and hikers are encouraged to keep all food, toiletries and garbage in a bear resistant canister to avoid attracting black bears,” the DEC wrote in a press release this week. “Campers are also advised to avoid cooking and eating after dark. Prepare and eat food away from the tent site.”
The release from the state comes on the heels of numerous reports of bear activity that have flooded social media in the last couple of weeks. From rock climbers to hikers to campers, people say run-ins with bears have been high this year.
“Bears have approached hikers and campers in the area around Gill Brook, Indian Pass, Mt. Colvin, Elk Pass and Nippletop,” the DEC said in the release, adding that its staff captured and euthanized one black bear that was a repeat offender.
“These bears are approaching closely in an attempt to intimidate people into giving them food. DEC warns hikers and campers not to reward bears by dropping packs or otherwise providing them with food.
“Other bears have been stealing food from campers and rock climbers in the area around Chapel Pond, including the Beer Walls.”
The DEC says hikers and campers should never give bears their food and should make lots of noise if a bear approaches them.
Two such hikers are Rebekah and Mark Geiselman.
“My daughter, Rebekah, and I were doing the loop over Nippletop and Dial on July 2. We arrived on the summit of Nippletop around 11:30, enjoyed the fantastic view and started having our lunch,” Mark Geiselman wrote in an email.
After the father-daughter duo had lunch, Rebekah began the descent while Mark finished packing his gear.
“As soon as she got to the base of the rock she said ‘Oh my, a bear,'” Markwrote. “I told her to come back up slowly and the bear continued along the trail just below us. I started yelling and blowing a whistle to scare him/her off but it seem reluctant to leave.
“Eventually, the bear wandered off the trail down off of the summit into the scrub. I came down off of the summit rock to the trail still watching for him in the brush and heard a snort which sounded like it was feet away through the brush.”
The pair began hiking out, but the bear, which Mark said didn’t have ear tags and appeared to be a yearling, wasn’t quite done with them.
“We started down the trail toward the junction between Nippletop and Dial,” he continued. “A bit later we saw the bear again, following us down the trail. Yelling seemed to be more effective than whistling in scaring him off but he was not very responsive to either. We were moving fairly quickly down the trail but he was continuing to follow us.”
The Geiselmans heard other hikers in the area and continued to hike, catching glimpses of the bear as they went.
“By the time we crossed paths with the other pair of hikers, the bear had appeared on the trail behind and in front of us several times and then again while we were with the other couple. All 4 of us started yelling and banging our trekking poles to scare him off.
“He finally headed down off of the ridge to the east. Our two groups split up and headed our separate ways. Although we didn’t see the bear again, I thought I might have smelled him or another one a couple of time on our way to Dial (a musky smell but maybe just in my head).”
Mark, who said he’s been coming to the Adirondacks for more than 20 years, noted that this was his first encounter with a bear. While the bear followed them, the elder Geiselman said the bear didn’t seem aggressive, but rather curious.
Bear backs off
Another hiker also said she had a run-in with a bear in the same area just this past weekend.
Quinn Korzeniecki, from Schuylerville, said in a message that she was descending Colvin Mountain, another High Peak, when she essentially came face-to-face with a bear sporting a red ear tag.
“I was solo hiking back down from Colvin, probably halfway back to the intersection with the trail to Nippletop when I saw him (her?) slowly coming right up the trail toward me. For a second I forgot what I was taught to do, and turned to go back up the trail toward Colvin’s summit,” she wrote. “Then I realized I needed to take him on or else he’d likely just follow me back up the mountain. So I started hollering and banging my trekking poles together.
“He looked up and paused for a second, then kept walking toward me. I got louder and walked more boldly toward him. To which he reacted with a growl and a big sigh (more like a huff) and meandered off the trail.”
Korzeniecki said the bear was hiding behind a small bush about 3 feet off the trail, which forced her to continue her noisy display.
“I kept hollering and walking toward him (and yelling, ‘I have no snacks for you!’). He growled and huffed more audibly this time and took off in a trot up an embankment,” she wrote. “I ran past making a lot of noise and just trying to get out of there. A few minutes later, I heard someone else hollering back probably where I left him on the side of the trail.”
The bear Korzeniecki came across, with one red ear tag, was specifically mentioned in the DEC’s press release.
“Another bear with one red ear tag has been a reported problem but has not behaved as aggressively (and) has been encountered less frequently,” the DEC release said.
For more information on black bears, including how to reduce the chance of conflicts, go to www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html.