Faster than a speeding bear?

posted Oct 9, 2013, 10:43 AM by Paul Wagner
Every ridiculous survival guide about backpacking talks about bears.  Way too much, in our opinion.  You can read what we think about most dangers on the trail here:
In the Sierra we think this focus on bears is completely unwarranted.  We have only seen three bears in the backcountry in the last seven years, and that includes almost 800 miles of backpacking and another few hundred day-hiking.  And none of those bears was even remotely interested in us, or our backpacks. 
But on one thing we certainly agree.  All of those survival guides tell you that you won't be able to outrun a bear, so don't even try.  (Of course, the old joke is that you don't HAVE to outrun the bear---you only have to outrun another hiker...)
We had proof of this during our trip this summer into the farther regions of remote Virginia Canyon in Yosemite.  P was in  the lead, as usual, and as he came up over a small rise in the trail, he surprised a large bear about fifty feet away.  Before P could react, and well before he could get out the camera at his side,  that bear had exploded away into the forest so fast that P was left stunned. 
Usain Bolt?  Not a chance.  That bear was moving at about thirty miles an hour, and that wasn't on a track, it was through the forest, over logs and through bushes.  P could hear the thump of the bears paws as he ran away, and he swears he could even feel the ground shake just a bit.  It was a very large animal moving very fast. 
Very impressive. 
And very normal.  The bear wasn't interested P at all.  Just wanted to eat a few berries and be left in peace. 

Which is what we did.