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Night of the Bear

The night of the bear was from a trip to Davidson River Campground near Brevard, NC back in October of 2021. It was our second trip to this amazing campground. Our first real camping adventure was to this same campground a few months earlier. It's located on the Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest and has first rate sites and facilities.

The October trip had two objectives, photograph some fall color in the mountains and hike Black Balsam Knob off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a short trip, just an overnight so we came in on Saturday afternoon, setup camp and did a little fishing. I managed to get in some scouting of Graveyard Fields around sunset and then it was back to camp for a fire and some s'mores.

Now we have struggled getting used to sleeping in tents. Our first attempt in July found us unable to drift off due the deafening silence and cacophony of frogs and bugs. My youngest ended up with a migraine, throwing up and finally catching some sleep in a chair just outside the front of the tent. This trip wasn't much different. No one got sick but we weren't able to get much sleep either.

Around midnight our neighbors in the next campsite arrived and began an hour or so of loud talking, music and random flashes of flashlights and lanterns. They finally settled down and I was finally able to drift off to sleep. That's where the bear comes in.

At about 2am, shortly after falling asleep, I was jolted awake by the words "HEY BEAR! GO AWAY BEAR!" urgently uttered from the previously noisy campsite next door. I laid there for a few seconds trying to process what I had heard. Then I heard it again, several time actually and a flashlight snapped on. Now I sat up and started looking around. I rolled off the air mattress and onto my knees while reaching for my pistol and flashlight. Expecting to see a bear burst through the bushes and running straight for us I peered out towards the commotion.

I heard a voice say "it headed through there" and a flashlight pointed in my direction. Now my tactical training kicked in and I decided to get out of the tent so I'd have room to maneuver and defend. Fortunately the bear had disappeared and did not seem to be returning so I began the process of trying to amp myself and the boys down a bit. I knew we needed to try and get back to sleep.

We did manage to drift back off after an hour or so of laying there expecting the bear to come back through in search of some dropped food or unsecured container. When it started to get light out I finally got up and made some coffee and waited for the boys to begin stirring in the tent. After they crawled out and had some granola bars we broke camp and packed up the truck, taking a few minutes to talk to our neighbors about what exactly had happened earlier.

Apparently the bear had walked between two smaller tents they had setup and could be heard sniffing around very close to the sleeping campers. They woke up, began shouting at the bear and saw it run off between our campsites. I made a mental note to add a can of bear spray to kit and we got ready to head out.

We went straight up to the Black Balsam Knob trailhead which was already getting a bit crowded. This is a relatively short hike but has a lot of elevation change and spectacular views. A video of our trip up and back is available here on YouTube.

About halfway up my oldest decide he was done with the trip, started fighting with his brother and stopped participating in the days activities. I guess that's teenagers for you.

Once we got done at Black Balsam we headed back down through Pisgah National Forest and made a stop at Looking Glass Falls. There was a crowd but I managed to find a parking spot and get a few shots of the falls with some of that amazing autumn color. I ended up almost waist deep in the river at one point so from now on I empty my pockets when shooting falls. The teenager of course stayed in the truck but that was his choice.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. We stopped in Hendersonville for a quick lunch and got back on the road. The teenager began to lighten up so maybe he was just hangry and didn't realize it. We even managed to get home before dark which always makes the unload process much easier.

So that's the story of The Night of the Bear. We didn't actually see it but I think that's about a close as I'd like to get. Especially at night. Let me know what you think and maybe we'll see you out there some Sunday. Please like and follow on social media to see where we are headed next.

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