I couldn’t think of a better morning hike than Bear Den Mountain and it had been almost a year, to the day, since I had been up there, so it would be a nice revisit. I started out the hike by snapping a few pictures of the goldenrods and Queen Anne’s lace lining the parking lot. Then I flipped through the full log book to find a solitaire square inch to sign in on. As we passed along the trail that paralleled the parking lot we locked ourselves into conversation about how this gem was a great addition to the Whiteface Ski Area. But we complained about its poor trail marking along the way. Little did we know at the time, but the trail had been cleared and marked quite well with yellow Whiteface disks, since the last time we were there.
We found this out as soon as we left the mountain bike trail and started our ascent of the peak. The footing was fantastic, and dry – making me think it was slightly rerouted as well to accomplish excellent drainage. As we pushed our way up the steeper slopes of a narrow eskar type ridge, I was asked, “Are there any bears here, since it is named Bear Den Mountain?”
“No,” I expressed, “but you never know.”
No more than 5-minutes later a black bear yearling crossed in front of us about 150 feet away. I estimated it to weigh about 150 pounds and in quite good health. It sat in the trail looking at us, puzzled slightly, not sure what to make us. Then with a slight huff from the nose it ran off, almost without a sound over the lip of a ridge. This actually all happened rather quickly, so fast that I couldn’t even get out my camera to get a picture of the blur.
We then worked our way along hoping to see it again, but it never came back. We eventually found ourselves on the ridge where the split is between two distinct rocky summits. We tried heading to the right to the unnamed summit but was blocked by a trail that was well overgrown. With my current lack of interest in bushwhacking with newbies to the area, we turned around and headed back toward the true summit. As we approached the summit we were heavily distracted by the abundance of blueberries all over the top. The bushes almost so high, that you didn’t even need to bend over to pick them, just drop your shoulder slightly and rake your fingers through the leaves.
After about 30-minutes of pictures, relaxing and turning blue from all the berries, we decided we best get back down and maybe we can see the bear one last time on the way out. This wasn’t going to happen though, as an over enthusiastic group of kids and trip leaders made their loud approach to the steep slopes, the bear was sure to be in the next county by now.