Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bear Encounter at Tahoe

Camping at Lake Tahoe can be a very calming and relaxing experience.. unless a bear decides to join you at camp for dinner.That's what we experienced this past 4th July weekend.

We had been crazy busy with work the previous weeks and took a few days off to go camping in Lake Tahoe. It was 6th July, most of the noisy campers had left and we were cooking up a good meal before it got too dark. It was dusk and we had just lit up lamps & a campfire.I didn't realise but the bear had come up to the table I was cooking at, a few feet away from me. Jayesh realised (he was at the fire pit not too far away) and tried to tell me in a calm voice so I wouldnt make sudden moves. Well, it hadn't struck me the bear was this close.. I heard 'bear' and dashed to the bear canister making sure it was shut. The bear got startled too, crossed my path and ran a few feet away. It stopped and realised the table was not manned anymore and decided to go head towards it.I grabbed a big stick (funny..i had kept it closeby..I had been having an uneasy feeling all that evening) and started hitting a rock near the table to drive it away meanwhile shouting out calling other campers..the bear backed off a bit but stopped and took a good look at me..decided i was too puny to be scary and started advancing again..which was not a good feeling.. anyways, finally a few more people came running to try and scare him off. But the only thing that really worked was when we started banging the metal bear canister with the stick. Looked like the bear couldn't handle high frequency clanging noises and bolted.

Pretty unnerving experience. We took a while to regain composure, deciding we couldnt eat dinner at the campsite and the car couldn't smell of food, so we packed up the food and drove up nearly 10 miles, found a brightly lit gas station and had dinner in the parking lot out there it..was good..the bear had good taste!

The bigger question was if we would go back to sleep in the tent at night.. well, eventually we did since it was only food the bear was after. We didn't get much sleep all night and had the car-keys alarm button in hand as a last resort. The bear did come back in the area. Our neighbours lit up a campfire after 2am since they saw/heard the bear around.

In hindsight, all in all an exciting trip. I found a picture of a bear in Tahoe, online, which looked like the one we ran into:
(for junta not familiar with bear-camping' s imperative the bear doesn't get to human food at campsites as that would make the bear keep coming back with certainty, potentially leading to agressive behaviour and eventually leading to the bear being shot down. Bear canisters (big metal trucks with special locks) are provided at each campsite so you store all your food in it. No food can be stored in cars as bears can break through car windows and will get to the food..bears have a great sense of smell and are pretty smart with getting through regular human locks and latches..). All in all it's pretty uncommon to have such a run-in with a bear.

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