When my Aunt Cynthia, who has been coming to the Adirondacks since she was a little girl, came to see my house for the first time, she joked about bears in my back yard coming to get her. I laughed it off, and told her there are no bears in Lake George. She tilted her head to the right, gave me a skeptical eye and said something to the effect of, “don’t be so sure.”
Well, Monday – almost exactly a year later -- I was eating my words.
A bear came running at me and my friend Vikki while walking down from the summit of Prospect Mountain to the parking.
For those of you who have never been to Prospect Mountain, you drive up the Veterans Memorial Highway to a parking area where a shuttle bus brings up a steep, curvy road to the 2,018-foot Summit. On a clear day you have a beautiful 100 mile view and can see all the way down to Albany and across to Vermont.
Monday’s clear sky made it a perfect day to take my friends Vikki, Les and Jen to the top. Vikki and I started down the granite steps that lead you to a paved path with her husband a short ways behind us and Jen a little bit behind him when he heard a loud rustling in the trees to our left.
We looked at each other and said, “what the hell was that,” assuming it was kids playing in the woods. When we turned around and looked up, we saw it: A medium sized black bear running toward us.
I’m not sure who grabbed whose arm first, but there we stood with our arms wrapped around each others screaming, “bear!” shaking and looking toward her husband, who also stopped dead in his tracks.
The bear took one look at us, and ran the other way – likely thinking, “get me away from those two screaming blondes ASAP.” We ran back toward Les and Jen and back up the stairs to the summit, where others said they saw the bear running the other way.
Although I consider myself pretty tough – I was a street reporter for years and have “knocked on doors” in some of New York and New Jersey’s most dangerous neighborhoods – this scared the life out of me. My heart was pounding, I was shaking and felt totally helpless at that moment. Had the bear continued toward us, what would we have done?
“In the 31 years I have been coming to the Adirondacks, I have never seen a bear,” I told my friends, adding, “and, in the decades before that my family, who has been here since the 1940s, never ever said they saw a bear – especially in Lake George. Further up, I've heard of them, but not here.”
To which, my friend’s husband asked, “so if we would have been here without you and this happened you would have never believed us?”
“Absolutely, 100 percent not,” I responded.
He also pointed out they traveled to Alaska twice where they thought they would see an abundance of wildlife, including bears in their natural setting. Instead, they just had to drive 5 hours to see one in Lake George.
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