“Saved By My Own Ineptitude”…or, “Mama Bear Ripped Off My Gonads.”

I knew watching The Revenant before a backpacking trip was a bad idea.

Yesterday I’m trekking through the south side of the Smokies with two good friends. We crest out on a ridge and shuck our packs and grab munchies and wander a short distance off-trail and stretch out under the trees and enjoy the fall colors and the view of Fontana Lake.

I, being of sound intentions and unsound intellect, get up and stroll out along the ridgeline and stand admiring the silence; which is broken when my friend Kevin calls out, “Hey, Early Retirement Dude…don’t look now, but there’s three bears in that tree you’re standing under.”

Attend me: “Don’t look now, but you’re standing directly under a wild two-hundred pound animal who’ll rip your gonads off and feed them to her babies if you so much as make a threatening gesture” is very poor advice. Guaranteed that you’ll immediately freeze and look up.

So I freeze and look up. And then I go all Brave Sir Robin and back slowly away. My friends and I gather our stuff, and and in a sure and steady way we nope right back down the ridge. But Kevin had been holding his phone at the moment of truth, and had the presence of mind to snap a quick pic…so here, my friends, is the proof.

And consequently I present to you today’s lesson: Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t be stupid. That’s pretty much all the advice you need in life.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit http://EarlyRetirementDude.com or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.

10 thoughts

    1. We belatedly realized that what had probably happened was that the bear and the cubs had been foraging up there, but since there were three of us and we were making a lot of noise, she took the cubs up into the tree to keep them safe. Either that, or we caught them napping up there. It was noon-ish and the sun was warm.

  1. Sorry, not impressed:) Those were black bears who generally run away from people. If it were a mama griz and her cubs, you would not still be here.

    1. That’s legitimately funny. But the next time I accidentally surprise Mama and her bearlings I hope to have you hiking ahead of me so you can explain to them that they’re not dangerous animals while I flee. 🙂

      1. I should just leave this alone but I can’t resist –you running away works for me. The advised protocol is to cover your head with your interlaced hands and play dead. Grizzlies apparently love to chase fleeing humans. I hike a lot in grizz and black bear country so it is critical that I be able to tell the difference between black bears and grizzlies and try to remember the appropriate response in an encounter. In general though, I don’t get freaked out by wildlife unless it’s charging me.

        1. What they tell you re: black bears where I was is to keep your distance and back away, which is what I did. But according to them that’s only the first step. I know you know this, but there’s a whole hierarchy of de-escalation procedures you’re supposed to use. If I remember correctly, if worst comes to worst you’re never supposed to play dead with black bears. Instead the advice is to fight back with every means available.

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