Monday, October 27, 2008

A Beary Nice Ride!

I want to start out by saying "thank you" to all of you who wished me well. I am feeling somewhat better, but I am still sick, so I am breaking down and taking antibiotics... something I have not done in over six years. I also want to apologize for the large amount of grammatical errors in my previous post. Good grief! I must have been really out of!!!
Despite not feeling the greatest, I did have a wonderful weekend, and was able to spend a lot of time with family, friends, and out on the trail with Amber, Bo, and Waska. On Friday morning, Amber and I decided to take our two hairy boys for a nice long ride down to one of the local creeks, which originate from a large glacial river (we ended up riding to this river on Sunday, and I will post about it later). We chose the creek ride, because there is really nothing quite as beautiful as riding in the fall, and we knew that we would see our fair share of autumn foliage, in all of its glory, both on the trail down, and then again on a different trail back up. What we didn't count on was this...bear traffic. (Note: These are NOT pictures that I took of the tracks, because there was no way that I was going to get off of my horse. These are just images from the Internet that show you what we saw)Remember how I have said that it is hunting season around here? Well near the start of our ride, just as we were entering into some deep, dark, woods, we were accosted by the smell of rotting meat, because there happened to be several "gut" piles (piles of entrails, and misc. body parts, such as legs and spinal columns), that had been dumped near the entrance, and also further down along, the trail. Let me just interject here that domesticated horses are really quite amazing, because I am sure that in the wild, there is absolutely no way that a herd of horses would go near rotting carcasses, mainly because of what usually lurks around them: predators!Both Bo and Waska have been near gut piles/carcasses before, so we couldn't figure out what was making them so nervous as they trotted, ears pricked and quick to startle, along the trail. That is until I looked down in the mud and noticed the tracks of at least three different bears, ranging from about yearling to large adult, crisscrossing the path in several locations. They were fresh tracks too, as it had just rained the day before. We stopped for a moment so I could point them out to Amber, who had never seen one, and then we continued to trot (while keeping a tight rein!) our way out of the woods, and we didn't stop until we were on a different trail. Some of you know this, and some of you don't, but I have encountered a bear on horseback before, and I do not wish to do so again. It was definitely not my idea of a good!!

Let me tell you, the nice, wide, open, space under the power lines never looked so inviting, but we saw something unusual out there too. If you don't know me, you might think from reading up above, that I am terrified of bears, and that we never see sign of them on the trail...not true. I have a healthy respect for bears (it is cougars that I am terrified of!), and we see bear scat all over the trails around here, but not bear scat that looks like apple pie...out in the middle of nowhere...which is what we saw out under the power lines. My first thought was that someone was baiting them, which is illegal, and we did find a big pile of apples that had been dumped about one mile SE of the scat, on a different trail, and on our way home. The horses were spooky over there too, and they didn't even bat an eye at the mound of apples. I think that someone left them out to bait the deer, but the bear are eating them as well. Not Bo and Waska!! They hightailed it out of there, and we let them. We have heard from the local gas station that the bears have been unusually aggressive, due to the rotten berry harvest this summer, and that they have been harassing hikers, so we figured that we better just stay away from their food sources for a while, especially since the food sources that we saw were man-made!(I wanted to post the above picture just so my hubby could see that Amber and I were wearing our orange vests. Of course, he can't see me, so he'll have to take my word on!!!)
Despite running into more bear sign that we cared too, we had a great ride, and Bo was definitely raring to go, as I hoped he would be after having almost two weeks off.
Happy trails to you, and watch out for those!!!!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...


I think I'm even more in awe of you and Bo and Waska and Amber now. Being able to ride while in bear country takes alot of courage and control, things which all of you seem to possess. Well done!

I'm glad you were able to get out and enjoy some trails together and that no bears were actually encountered :)

(and yes to your question, you can share a photo of the Bo sketch I did for you :)
I'm really glad you like it. Horses are very difficult for me to sketch or paint.)


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

OK, I for one want to hear the whole bear encounter story! :-o
That is so gross about the rotting meat smell :-x ick
Sounds like some exciting and scary trails!
Hope the antibiotics really kick in and get you feeling better!

C-ingspots said...

I am glad to hear that you're feeling better - thank God for drugs huh?? And good girl for wearing your lovely orange vests - brownie points all around!! Another thing that hubby and I do when we ride this time of year is tie little bells to the horse's bridles - we jingle as we walk along and as you probably know, bears, cougars and hunters tend to avoid human noises - yeah!! I've even gone so far as to buy this leather strap with jingle bells every 6" or so and it buckles around the base of my horse's neck like a large necklace - they're called rythem (spelling?)bells. Very festive indeed!! Keeps all the boogies away!! We have never seen bears or cougars but have ridden where we were fairly sure the horses had their scent - so we trusted their judgement and made hasty retreats from the area! We also carry a 22 magnum when we ride - just in case. So glad you all had a good and safe ride.
Thanks for the help with the pictures...I will try out your suggestions, but I don't know how to do links either...good grief, I'm soo needy.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...


You've been tagged!!

Come on over to play :)


Andrea said...

OH my goodness! That is scary! You have two really good horses to be have so well!! I would have peed my pants if I saw bear tracks!! Mrs. Mom says we should cary bear pepper spray! Do you have some???

The fall colors were beautiful! And I love the orange vests, very safe in hunting season!!

Gail said...

Forget about the horses spooking...I would have been spookier than they. Good training for them.

Wonderful pictures.

jesterjigger said...

Wow! What a beautiful place to ride! I'm glad you're feeling better, and I thought my cold was bad, lol.

Stephanie said...

The picture you posted show cased Grizzly tracks...were the tracks you found Black Bear tracks? They are more common for your area.

We ride in Blaze orange too over here on the east side - and we tie orange ribbons in our horses tails and manes. The bells is a good idea though. It seems like every year someone mistakes a cow or a horse for a deer up here.

You are right the pile of apples is most likely what the bear was feeding on but on a piece of my family we have an apple orchard and we can find apple filled bear scat like that for MILES around our orchard. The black bears ought to be fairly mild tempered this time a year - that's odd that they are being aggressive, but I have heard the same thing about the berries - they should be rolly polly fat and lookin for a good spot to sit the winter out in.

I have come across black bears on horse back a few times, with no ill effects and I didn't feel threatened in any way - but I know of scary encounters that others have had. I usually goes like this: girl and horse sees bear, bear sees girl and horse, both leave in the opposite direction.

I may have to do a post on a cougar encounter I had on horse back someday that will get your hair up.

Melanie said...

I have pepper spray, but do you think I remember to bring it??? No!!

You caught me!! No one was supposed to notice that they were grizzly tracks and not black bear!!! There weren't any good pics of black bear ones that I could find.

I am surprised that the bears are nasty right now too. My hubby was talking to the game warden who said that several of the bears, that have been taken from these low lying areas, are skinny from the lack of good food availabilty.

Pony Girl said...

Yikes! I would have been a bit nervous, no- A LOT nervous on that ride w/all those bear signs! Also, just the thought of riding in hunter's territory would make me nervous. You are brave and obviously enjoyed a lovely fall ride! I am not so brave and jealous, I feel like I'm not going to get out on a trail ride until next spring! ;(
Have you shared your other bear encounter on a post before?
Glad you are feeling better...I used to get chronic sinus infections and was on antibiotics at least 2 times, if not 3, during the fall/winter! Now, I haven't been on them in a couple of years. I guess I am finally immune to all of the kiddo's germs!