Sequoia National Park Stories and Tips

Bears

Bear cub Photo, Sequoia National Park, California

One area we decided to hike was called Round Meadow, for obvious reasons. The Sequoias grew in a circle around this meadow, which was about two acres and had a stream running through it. The trees can't grow in the meadow because of the soft soil from the stream, so they grow around it. Of course, one was bigger than the next, or so it seemed. Sue stopped to look at a strange-looking bush with pods on it, and I went ahead a little ways to take a picture of a tree growing around a huge boulder. Then Sue called me in a loud whisper to turn around. There, coming out of the woods right behind her, was a mother black bear and her cub! We learned later that the cub was a spring cub and was only about a month old. They just walked on by her and into the meadow. There the mother was teaching the cub to scratch downed logs for insects and to climb logs. Later she taught the cub to climb a tree. It was awesome just to be able to watch this from a distance. The mother was very patient, even with people standing around and watching, when the cub went up a tree and stayed there a long time. She just camped out under the tree, which was right on our walking path, to wait. All the people there were great as far as not intruding; we were all just awestruck and fascinated. There were also two more bears wandering around the meadow later, just grazing. Soon, a park naturalist joined our small group of observers, and she said this bear was a new mother who had been fed by humans, so they were keeping an eye on her. She wasn't afraid of people after being fed, and these are usually the bears that cause problems and have to be put down. So when the mother and cub came toward us, she and her friend ran at the bears yelling and throwing sticks to scare them, drive them back into the woods, and to make them afraid of people again. Well, mother bear didn't like having sticks thrown at her, and she growled. And junior, just like Simba in The Lion King, practiced his growl, letting out a growl imitating his mom’s that was cute and scary at the same time. They finally did take off for the woods, so we continued our tour, but we'll never forget our bear encounter in Sequoia National Park.

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