I was running along this stretch of trail on the beautiful afternoon of August 5, 2007, when I met a hiker that I had never seen before nor since. An older, outdoorsy fellow, he was carrying a big jingle stick, festooned with bright ribbons. As he walked along, the bells on the end of his walking stick would ring merrily.
I first passed him going northwest, then after a break for a "stretch" near Far Country Falls, came upon him again just south of the Far Country Trail junction. At this point, he held up his hands to stop me from running past.
While looking at me, he pointed out the huge black bear, about 30 yards behind him on the trail!
As I exclaimed that this was the first time I had ever seen one out here, he advised me not to look her in the eyes. Well, okay, but I am not going to miss this sight! Still watching me (not the bear as she waddles away down the trail), he told me that he had once seen a mother with a couple of cubs. I said, "You mean like those?!", as two large cubs appeared on the trail 20 yards behind him. He glanced back and confirmed the presence of the cubs, but still was reluctant to look at them.
This cache commemorates that wonderful day and amazing sighting. I have visited the trails of Cougar Mountain more than 500 times, covering over 3,400 miles. A couple of years ago, while on a solitary morning run, I saw a large cub running ahead of me on Quarry Trail. As I chased it, I thought, "what is that big black dog doing alone out here?", before I recognized that the shape and gait just wasn't right.
But nothing really compares with the first time!
I have often wondered how different my encounter might have been if the fellow with the jingle stick had not been there. Running with my head down, I might have come close to running all the way up to the mama, and I almost certainly would have been on the trail between her and her cubs! Thanks, Jingle Man!
As you visit this easy find, on this flat, well-traveled trail, remember - THEY ARE OUT THERE!
Congrats to makerman for FTF (and adjustment to coordinates).