Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bear Encounter on the Way to Mount Crawford

I had planned on hiking Mount Chocorua yesterday with my son but was feeling sick. I met my son at the Piper Trail, we visited for a few minutes then I returned home and went to bed. Today I was feeling better so I decided to do a short hike with great views. Mount Crawford via the Davis Path is the hike I chose.

 At the trailhead

 Crossing the Saco River

 Saco River

 Across this bridge and up the trail 100 feet awaits a bear encounter

I startled a large black bear behind this tree beside the trail

 The bear carefully watching me as I walk on up the trail

It was a late morning start as I drove to the trailhead. Today's weather was nice and mild with high, very thin cloud cover but plenty of sun shining through. I arrived at the parking lot that was almost full. I was expecting to see a lot of hikers on this popular trail. This was a solo hike for me and I saw no other hikers as I started out on the trail.

 Does anyone read these signs?

 Lady Slipper

 Mount Carrigain

 Ledge scramble begins

I crossed over the Saco River on a suspension bridge and continued along crossing a small log bridge over a brook. The trail turns right and enters the woods. It was along this section of trail that a bear suddenly bolted from behind a large tree twenty feet to my left. I obviously startled him considering how close I was before he ran. I'll have to admit that I was also startled. The trail veered around to the left, the same direction the bear was heading. I caught another glimpse of him watching me from behind a tree. I started talking and moved slowly so as not to appear aggressive. The dark, black body stood in contrast against the vegetation and I had no problem seeing where he was. Stopping briefly I managed to snap a photo and kept moving up the trail. I never did see what direction he finally went.

 View from the ledges

 More ledge scrambling

 Blueberry bush

The trail started to climb and I was really feeling the effects of whatever "bug" I had yesterday that made me sick. I took it slow and easy as I came up to the ledges. I've done this hike a couple of times but for some reason I had a difficult time finding my way back to the main trail after coming out onto the ledges and taking some photos. It took me a few minutes but I backtracked and found the main trail. I don't think I'm the only one that has done this. There were false trails everywhere leaving these ledges.

 On the summit of Mount Crawford

 Mount Washington and Stairs Mountain

 Mount Washington

 Stairs Mountain

I got back on course and was soon at the spur path to the summit. I was not seeing the number of hikers I thought there would be. I met several hikers that had hiked to Stairs Mountain. That hike is on my to-do list. Once I got on the summit I found it necessary to use the bug spray. Although there was a good breeze blowing any decrease in wind brought out the black flies. There were two other hikers up here. I got my usual summit pics and panoramic video, had a snack then started my descent.


Walking back across the Saco River

It was a quick trip back down and I was feeling better on the descent. There were no more bear encounters and it was a nice hike back to the parking lot. I've always wondered what my reaction would be to suddenly confront a bear on the trail. I'll have to admit that it was a bit unnerving and I felt vulnerable knowing the bear was pretty much in control of the situation if he chose. We had both startled each other but I kept a cool head, the bear was not aggressive and we each went our separate ways enjoying the day.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!