Trail running is a great way to exercise while you take in some natural beauty — but sometimes that natural beauty gets a little too close for comfort.
That’s exactly what happened to one trail runner in Sierra Madre, California.
“[I] went trail running and turned a blind corner to find a mother bear’s head about 5 inches from my waist and her cubs a few feet behind her,” the runner explained.
The video, presumably taken shortly after the initial encounter, shows a mother bear charging at the runner in a terrifying effort to protect her cubs, who were right behind her. The bear backed off the charge but continued following the runner down the trail.
Clearly frightened for her life, the runner slowly backed up while roaring and blowing a whistle to try to scare the mama bear away. The runner and another hiker ended up escaping the situation by continuing to make noise and eventually encouraging the bears to take a different path.
Yelling and making yourself look bigger is the best course of action when faced with a black bear. However, the National Park Service recommends not screaming or using a whistle, as it could sound like an animal in pain and actually attract bears.
Luckily for this hiker, this bear didn’t seem too interested in attacking; she just wanted to protect her cubs.
“Momma bear is protecting her cubs,” explained one user in the comments.
😰 A hiker recorded this terrifying encounter with a brown bear and two cubs on a narrow hiking trail near Sierra Madre, California.— AccuWeather (@accuweather) November 17, 2023
The bears charged and followed the runner as she backed away, roaring in an attempt to scare them off. pic.twitter.com/nmGIBVQyKp
This is a different encounter from those of “tourons” — a combination of the words “tourist” and “moron” — who purposely disrespect the wildlife by irritating them and, in some cases, even trying to take selfies with large animals like bears and elk.
While it’s not an everyday occurrence, it’s important to remember that any time spent in nature poses a risk of running into wildlife. But as long as you’re respectful, knowledgeable, and prepared like this runner was, you’re likely to be perfectly safe to enjoy the beauty around you.
REI, an outdoor retailer, has extensive guidelines to help you stay safe from bears. It begins with researching your hiking spot and gathering the right supplies — like bear canisters and bear spray.
It’s also important to understand how to act in tense situations with wildlife. As you hike, REI suggests making plenty of noise so the wildlife knows you’re there — usually, they want to avoid you just as much as you want to avoid them.
You should take any opportunity to explore the beautiful nature around you as long as you remember that you’re in the animal’s territory. They deserve your respect — which means staying educated and treating the wilderness with the same diligence and reverence that you would a priceless artifact.
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