Not one, but *four* bears tromped thru our backpacking campsite within 30 minutes of arrival shortly after sunset (just down-river from Glen Aulin). This bear pictured here was the first & smallest of the group (baby bear). They seemed to have no fear of humans, and only reluctantly did they take an alternate path around the campsite, after much persuading. We all got out our thin, metal plates, and banged them w/ metal spoons, like a bunch of Hare Krishna's on a street corner. None of the bears seemed a bit intimidated.
Despite being dark brown in color, these are called California *black* bears. They mean humans no harm. They only want (your) food - which they were smart enough to get (after we went to sleep, they climbed the tree where we hid our food). The other bears that came thru were much bigger and rather intimidating - enough so, that we totally forget to grab the camera & snap some shots.
Something about a big-ass bear staring at you, point blank range, with no fence separating you .. that makes your thinking default to self-preservation. We educated ourselves on bear safety before backpacking.
Grizzly bears are the nasty ones .. much more aggressive than California black bears. The defense against grizzlies is to make a lot of noise when you walk, so they hear you a ways off. Hang your metal pots and pans off your pack so they clang against each other as you walk.
Problems arise when you surprise a grizzly .. especially if it's a momma w/ cubs. If no cubs, you should always act confident. Bears can small fear, and it may actually provoke them. Never play dead, unless the bear first makes contact. Playing dead makes the bear think the threat is neutralized, and may be your only hope.
Night attacks are worst, and most lethal. That's when bears are looking for food, and a night attack means they see you as food. If you find yourself if a night attack, experts say, there's only one response: fight for your life.
The last bear that showed up at our campsite came after dark. He seemed to be saying to us > "I wish you human's would stop making all that racket with those pots and pans. You're giving me a freaking migrane. I am just going to lie down here behind this rock and take a little nap, and after you're all gone to beddy-by, I am going to climb that tree where you have stored your food and I'm going to quietly eat it all. You're in MY world now. Welcome to bear county. I have seen people like you come and go for years. We bears are smarter than you humans. You'll see what I mean in the morning when you wake to find your food gone."
Next -> Wendy packing at sunset