So it was a salad, green beans (picked from from Google Grandma's garden the day before), and noodles with olive oil and salt followed by a short little family walk to the entrance of Whittaker Woods here in North Conway. My belly was stuffed, but, as the boys were going to be taking an extended bubble bath, I took the opportunity to get out for a couple of very easy miles. At least that was the plan.
The first 0.75 miles, despite having several pounds of pasta in my belly, felt comfortable enough that I decided to go a bit further before turning around (my running our first two days in North Conway had been marked by a lot of UP and a lot of DOWN. My legs, after 6 weeks of little training, were feeling it, hence the planned easy day). Right at a mile, I was running up a slight hill to where I would be turning around when I discovered that the Katzman family had not been the only ones considering the question "What's for dinner?"
From the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game: What you should do if you encounter a black bear:
- Make it aware of your presence;
- Remove any sight or smell of food;
- Stand your ground and slowly back away.
I bring up this official New Hampshire State checklist of how to safely enjoy wildlife because, right when I was about to turn around and head home for bed time, my planned easy run took a sudden shift. There, a mere eight feet from me, was a large (nigh gargantuan!) black bear, considering, for itself, what to eat for an evening meal. Let's consider how I did in regards to the experts' recommendations for such encounters:
- Make it aware of your presence: FAILED. I was essentially snuggling with this fellow (or lady?) before either of us knew what was going on.
- Remove any sight or smell of food: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. Considering I had eaten a large meal about 10 minutes before, I probably smelled delicious (at least to bears. I don't think I had showered for a couple of days, but had been in the river earlier . . .). At least I was not wearing a shirt.
- Stand your ground and slowly back away. EPIC FAIL! Apparently I lack the nerves to stare down an animal that has more strength in its small claw than I have in my entire body. After a brief moment of eye contact and a very loud noise from my ursine friend (probably an equally loud noise from myself), flight beat fight, I turned, and high-tailed it from whence I came. Clearly, I would not do well to write brochures regarding wildlife encounters.
Falling asleep last night, I kept thinking about this little run. As a human, I was stoked - how many people have a chance to experience something like this (and, melodrama here to make it more exciting, live to tell about it?)? As a runner, I realized I'm really slow - but have a whole new incentive to hit the track! In the end, one thing is clear - I LOVE New Hampshire!