Bears and Berries
Mmmm ... I love the huckleberries on Mt. Hood. Big, fat, blue berries bursting with tangy flavor - so refreshing along the trail and fantastic in muffins or pancakes back home.
But bears love those berries, too. Like the one in the photo here. We were strolling along a ridgeline trail near one of our favorite berry-picking spots, when a bear cub bolted out of the brush and scampered high up a tree. There were a few wary moments of wondering where Momma Bear might be, but she soon revealed herself by climbing a big old hemlock. She huffed and puffed at us, so we continued along the trail and left them alone.
Bear encounters are rare on Mt. Hood. We have Black Bears (no Grizzlies), who are retiring and shy most of the time. Most of my bear encounters over the years involved observing a fuzzy rear-end running away from me. This bear was protecting her cub, faced us, and clearly told us to continue along our way. Fortunately, she was 40 feet up in a tree and not on the ground with us.
Mt. Hood bears will run away when they can. The best thing you can do is let them know you are there. Talking with others as you walk along the trail helps, but bear bells also do a neat job of it. Cede space to any bear that crosses your path, and yield any berry patch to our ursine friends if they come around.
Remember to share the forest bounties: "One for bird, one for bear, one for coyote, and one for me." That formula works well when picking berries or collecting mushrooms. Check out these chanty buttons already popping up:
Enjoy those Mt. Hood huckleberries, but please remain aware that bears love them, too.
If you would like to learn more, the Forest Service has a link for black bear encounters: