Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

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Gumbo_Jambalaya
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Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by Gumbo_Jambalaya » September 3rd, 2017, 8:18 pm

Hey there. Relatively new to backpacking so thought I'd share my folly-filled but interesting overnight.

Headed out from Top Spur in the early afternoon... up and up and up until reaching a view that made me forget about my already aching legs.
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I've hiked some other small sections of the Timberline and even with all the impressive views, I still think the most magical part is the abundance of streams. Maybe it's because I spent so long in the Midwest so it's hard to comprehend how they could exist. Either way... so refreshing.
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The ponds are looking a little sad at this time of year, though. One or two others were completely dry.
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Nonetheless, lots of incredibly views from this area.
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Unfortunately, I turned the wrong direction at an unmarked junction and ended up heading down Mazama trail. I didn't notice at first because I was too infatuated with the burnt out area.
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It was at this point that I realized I was heading down a ridge, but it was a clear day and the view up into Washington gave perfect view of Mt St Helen, Mt Ranier, and Mt Adams. Hard to see in my Android photography, but it was pretty neat.
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On my way back up the Mazama trail to my missed turn there was a large clearing with a campsite in it, but as I turn the corner coming into view of the clearing... a black bear in the field looking straight at me! Admittedly I was a little too panicked to analyze it very much (and far too panicked to take a picture), but even from 100 yards it looked quite large (at first I thought it was a giant boulder in the middle of the field). I backtracked the trail a waited a few minutes, but the next time I tried to pass it was still frozen in the field looking my direction. Not confident that I could just walk past the thing, as a solo backpacker, I went back around the corner and started to shout talk / loudly and slowly make my way forward. This time the bear was gone when the field came into view.

I hike quickly to my campsite after this, off a second wind of adrenaline.

I passed another friendly hiker on his way back to the Trailhead and relayed to him about the bear. He said he wasn't too surprised because the field is full of blueberries which they are feasting off of at this time of year. So maybe if you are looking for a bear encounter you have a place to go.

Not too sure how common bear sightings are on Mt. Hood. I'm relatively new to the area and have only been up there a handful of times.

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adamschneider
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by adamschneider » September 3rd, 2017, 8:26 pm

Gumbo_Jambalaya wrote:Not too sure how common bear sightings are on Mt. Hood. I'm relatively new to the area and have only been up there a handful of times.
Not very common. Mt. Hood bears are terrified of humans, so you were really lucky to see one at all.

Gumbo_Jambalaya
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by Gumbo_Jambalaya » September 3rd, 2017, 8:29 pm

adamschneider wrote:
Gumbo_Jambalaya wrote:Not too sure how common bear sightings are on Mt. Hood. I'm relatively new to the area and have only been up there a handful of times.
Not very common. Mt. Hood bears are terrified of humans, so you were really lucky to see one at all.
That is what I figured. Since I was alone and heading up the ridge I guess I snuck up on it. The bear was quite a bit out from the treeline in the middle of the field -- very exposed -- and seemed kind of frozen there once I came into sight.

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adamschneider
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by adamschneider » September 3rd, 2017, 10:30 pm

Gumbo_Jambalaya wrote:The bear was quite a bit out from the treeline in the middle of the field -- very exposed -- and seemed kind of frozen there once I came into sight.
Does a bear shit himself in the woods?

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retired jerry
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by retired jerry » September 4th, 2017, 5:19 am

bear sightings aren't that common, because they run away before you see them

each time I see a bear, the adrenaline level is lower and I am more successful getting the camera out. I've seen bears maybe 4 times on Mt Hood and about that many times other places in Oregon/Washington/California

they eat a lot of Mt Laurel Ash berries - big clumps of red berries. And there's a lot of them in their poop.

were there any blueberries for humans to eat?

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markesc
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by markesc » September 4th, 2017, 7:44 am

Wow! Glad you made it okay there!

I bet he was snackin on some huckleberries. :D

Gumbo_Jambalaya
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by Gumbo_Jambalaya » September 4th, 2017, 9:14 am

retired jerry wrote:were there any blueberries for humans to eat?
I actually didn't see any blueberries myself, someone only mentioned that to me. Quite a few red berries along the trail though.

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retired jerry
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by retired jerry » September 4th, 2017, 11:24 am

red berries next to trail?

there are red huckleberries that are good

there are tons of Mountain Laurel Ash - big clumps of red berries - bears eat a lot of them - I wonder how they taste?

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teachpdx
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by teachpdx » September 5th, 2017, 1:05 pm

That's exciting that you got to see a bear!
I saw a full grown male black bear a few summers ago near the Vista Ridge/Timberline junction. My hiking partner and I heard a rustling in some brush about 30 feet in front of us, then he lumbered out onto the trail, looked right at us for about 10 seconds, then took off uphill.
My hiking partner was petrified, but I was absolutely elated!

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retired jerry
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Re: Overnight in Cairn Basin with a bear sighting

Post by retired jerry » September 5th, 2017, 1:10 pm

30 feet away from you, wow!!!

did you get a picture?

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