Joe & I hiked into a cabin, just the two of us. 4.5 miles up. When we arrived, we were so struck by the silence. I mean really, there are 6 of us most days. Six voices, bodies, and pairs of feet rumbling through the day. Making noise. A lot of noise. Up here there was just the guy + me. The only other sound was a far off water fall and occasional bird call. The weather was particularly cooperative and the clouds lifted to reveal the sun. It shined down casting its light over the mountains all around us. It was breathtaking. Restorative. The 24 hour trip felt like days of peace & quiet to my soul.
On the hike home the following morning we talked in hopes to keep the bears away. This hope was temporarily thwarted when we were met on the trail by a black bear as we came around a bend.
"Hello Mister Bear." Joe shouted.
I actually thought he was kidding. I couldn't see around him & his huge pack.
"How are you today Mister Bear?" he asked.
I looked up to see Joe standing so straight and tall he appeared a foot taller. Fifteen feet ahead of him on the trail a black bear was trying to get away from us, scrambling through tall bushes uphill. I think he was just as surprised (and concerned) to see us. It's been years since I've seen a bear on the trail and I stood there with my mouth hanging wide open.
"Aren't you going to take a picture?" Joe asked.
"Oh, yeah. I was too busy looking for a hiding place!" I told him.
I snapped one photo of the bear, far up the hill peeking out at us from the bushes. Joe talked to him and I watched him cautiously as we passed the trail underneath the bush he was hiding in. As soon as we were under he ran in the opposite direction, the bushes moving and shaking as he went.
We talked a little louder after that as we finished the hike to the trail head. There is certainly a sense of vulnerability and awe to encounter a bear when you are so deep in the woods. It was the perfect ending to our adventure.