(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips, Hiking

7 tips GUARANTEED to make the most of your bear encounters

bear encounters funny wilderness survival hiking tips

I smelled them long before I saw them.

It wasn’t the flailing arms and hurried pace of a pair of day-hikers dressed in bright t-shirts and shorts rushing towards me that got my attention. It was their laundry detergent. Tide. Maybe Cheers. Either way, it was delicious enough to break the hypnotic spell that comes from hiking 20+ miles a day for more than two months.

“Hey!” the husband shouted. He was a little out of breath. “Hold up. There’s a mama bear and her baby cub back behind us.” The wife, also excited but a little triumphant, held up her cell phone. “I got pictures!”

Yup. I thought, Definitely Tide.

Making the most out of your bear encounters

For many outdoor enthusiasts, bears claim a special place in the fear/fascination centers of our brains. Rightfully so, as you are 17.8 times more likely to cross paths with a ravenous bear than the docile Sasquatch (Insert indisputable FoxNews-esque source here). As a public service, I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me to conquer fears about bear encounters along the Appalachian Trail.


  • Always hike with someone slower than you

    (for obvious reasons)

  • Getting that perfect shot.

    When trying to get that stunning close-up with your phone’s camera, if you can’t get the mama bear and ALL her cubs in one frame, you’re too close. Switching to video is just common courtesy. The rescue teams will be cleaning up a huge mess, the least you can do with your last moments is provide a bit of light-hearted levity.

  • Racing a bear up a tree really is a thing.

    While no one has ever won, all competitors are automatically short-listed (posthumously) for the annual Darwin Awards.

  • Sharing is caring.

    You know how hungry you get after a full day of hiking? Now imagine that you had to carry an extra hundred pounds of muscle around all day. Sharing your food with our fuzzy friends is not only good manners, it’s an excellent way to pay it forward because you’ll be teaching bears to show extra attention to the hikers that come behind you.

  • Bears love to be spooked.

    Remember how much your dad laughed when you snuck up behind him while he was changing the oil under the car? Bears think this is even more fun. With their poor vision, they rely on a strong sense of smell and hearing. So, hikers that haven’t showered in days and walk around as stealthily as possible, especially at night, are primed to catch a bear unaware. You can’t buy that kind of fun!

  • Know the difference between “play time” and “work time.”

    Sure, it can be fun to play chase and tag in the woods with these furry scavengers, but it’s important to remember that they have busy schedules too. You will know play time is nearly over when their nibbling on your limb starts to remove chunks of flesh. At this point, it’s usually best to just play dead. Not only is this practice for the real thing that’s only a few hours away, but you don’t want to cause extra stress by making them work too hard. That just makes them grouchy.

  • Hair Spray is the ideal bear repellant.

    The stores will try to sell you “bear repellant,” but these harsh sprays tend to stun or even frighten them off. For a truly meaningful bear encounter, I recommend a sweet-smelling hairspray, like AquaNet or Bed Head. Bed Head offers truth in advertising rarely seen these days when it promises: “Relentless hold and control. The more you use, the harder it gets.” Every bear you meet will thank you for sharing this amazing gift.

surviving bear encounters wilderness survival hiking habits

These tips are guaranteed to provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime bear encounter. While I can’t guarantee your survival by following all of these tests strategies, I’m pretty sure you’ll Conquer any residual doubts about your place on the Bear-Man food chain.  Your welcome.


However, for those of you interested in what the “experts” recommend with respect to bear encounters, here’s a link. You may notice a few discrepancies, but I suspect this has more to do with a new-fangled trend towards “safety” over an unparalleled immersion in Beartopia (Trademark pending).


Just in case this is the last time we speak

Whether you’re getting ready to hit the Trails, or settling in for a virtual stroll through the woods, I hope you all have an amazing hike!




  • Reply Phaytea's Pulse March 19, 2017 at 6:31 am

    Hmmmm…so my bucket list doesn’t have this much adventure but I’ll be sure to come back here when I intend running into a bear…whaaaaaattt!!!!! Welldone

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Every solid bucket list should contain at least one or two wildlife encounters. But, just to be safe, probably best to put them towards the bottom of the list. Just in case.

      • Reply Phaytea's Pulse March 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

        I know right….I’m such a scaredy cat….so yes bottom of the list till……..

  • Reply Barb Knowles March 19, 2017 at 7:03 am

    My fear of bears is the 2nd reason I rarely hike. #1 is lethargy. And the two don’t mesh.

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 7:06 am

      hehehe but you know, I’m pretty sure the bears LOVE it when we’re lazy, so I’m sure THEY think these two mesh just fine 😉

  • Reply Miriam March 19, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I love hiking but good thing we don’t have bears over here Gabe. Regardless you’ve provided me with quite a visual. ?

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 7:17 am

      Really? I’ve heard terrifying accounts of marauding bands of Kuala’s. Gives me shivers just thinking about the eucalyptus carnage…

      • Reply Miriam March 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        True but only if you like swinging from gum trees.

  • Reply usathroughoureyes March 19, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Gabe we are laughing harder then we have in days. This article is hilarious. It also comes at just the right time as Audrey is preparing for her annual hike along the Appalachian Trail and the usual “what have the bears been up to on the trail” research she does. Awesomely prepared and your humor is extraordinaire!!!!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Perfect Tom. I’ve always felt that if learning isn’t fun (or Netflix worthy), it must not be important. (I don’t know if they taught me this in Med School, or if I’m just naturally gifted that way 😉 ).
      Looking forward to reading about the AT section hike!

      • Reply usathroughoureyes March 19, 2017 at 8:26 am

        You crack us up in a wonderful way. You should be teaching the bedside manner class for medical students because humor is so healing and relationship building. You are gifted in so many ways and just think there is more gifts to come. We’ll keep you posted on the AT hike.

        • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 8:32 am

          I wish I could say that I was a funny, and playful surgeon Tom, but I think this was a trait I didn’t rediscover until after I retired. It’s right up there with one of my bigger regrets.
          But… I’ll try to save that stumble down memory lane for a more somber moment. Hopefully after we’ve had a chance to read about the latest from the AT!

          • usathroughoureyes March 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

            I can understand how difficult it must have been. In serious fields of work humor must always be used with discretion. Retirement does allow us to re-discover ourselves in wonderful new ways. It is good seeing you being able to laugh now. You have a precious gift with your humor.

  • Reply Sheri @trail2peaktheadventurouspath March 19, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Ha ha ha ha ha! ???This is so funny, Gabe! It would be a great replacement for the “You Are In BEAR Country” pamphlets they give out at the parks here.

    Our mountain friends here are so much more fit than we are. We always joke that the only thing we bring to the table here… the only reason they bring us along on their hiking adventures, is your tip number one!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Seriously??? You both look like ideal hiker/mountaineers! If you’re friends are that much more fit than you are, I’m gonna have to stay away from Canada. My poor ego couldn’t handle the shame…

      • Reply Sheri @trail2peaktheadventurouspath March 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

        They are a strange lot! Uber-strong. Inspiring. But it’s a different world in the local crowd. Just come and hang out with the tourists and any city slickers you can find. You’ll be fine!

  • Reply masgautsen March 19, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I will keep your advice in mind for when I encounter one!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Sweet! Another satisfied customer 😉

  • Reply Monster Mermaid March 19, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I love this! (I hate bears..even though we don’t have any here 🙂 )…I did a similar post about lions a while back, I must dig it out for Thursday Throwback 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 8:47 am

      hehehe I’d love to read it. I’m a little rusty on my lioneering (that’s a thing right?)

      • Reply Monster Mermaid March 19, 2017 at 8:48 am

        Lioneering is exactly the right and official phrase! :D…hanging out with people you run faster than also works with lioneering…great minds!

  • Reply Zazzy March 19, 2017 at 9:12 am

    I spent the better part of most weekends for two summers in Yellowstone. While the moose, elk and buffalo were fun to tease (while walking across posted geothermal areas), I really wanted to see a bear. If only I had your tips back then!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Seeing a Yellowstone Grizzly up close and personal would be awesome. Ironically, moose are actually a far more dangerous animal. (More moose attacks last few years than bear attacks). Moose are very territorial, but not smart enough to recognize when someone is just passing through, vs. those who are threats.

  • Reply deaththelifestory March 19, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I love this! There’s no bear in the UK, but there are just as many idiots 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:49 am

      hehehe I’m pretty sure this advice is universal, and works on predatory animals of all types 😉

      Common back anytime the mood strikes. I can’t guarantee that the wisdom you find here will always be this profound, but I’ll do my best to share a bit of light hearted inspiration and maybe a few meaningful tidbits.

  • Reply Bel March 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Okay this is so weird. I’ve been thinking about bears for like a week now and was planning to write something about it. I watched the movie backcountry (loosely based on a true story of a tragic bear encounter). The movie was so violently vivid that it stayed with me. I know it’s foolish to not know much about them considering I love to hike -so apparently they are everywhere from Yellowstone to the Appalachian. Lol. Now I’m freaking out because I’m going on a trip next week and we will be camping – so i’ll be keeping a bunch of stuff in my tent in case a bear decides to drag me out.?

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

      If it makes you feel any better, I stopped counting after the a dozen bear sitings. Seeing the bear cubs without mama was worth a pause, but otherwise, we all minded our own lanes.
      And so long as the “stuff” you keep in your tent isn’t half eaten Snickers and granola bars, you should be just fine. I’m jealous!

      • Reply Bel March 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

        Omg you’ll love it when you find out where I’ll be going – but it’s a secret for now ❤ It is local but untamed and a lot of rough roads and slot canyons….hopefully the weather cooperates and it doesn’t rain! Thanks for the bear tips….I’m really looking forward to this trip.

        • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:36 am

          ooooo. curiosity is piqued. Hopefully you’ll share with us on your blog as well.

          • Bel March 19, 2017 at 10:39 am

            That is the plan! Prepare for awesome pictures of the ruggedness that keeps me coming back – i think i’m forever married to nature. ?

          • Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

            Sweet! I’ve just checked, and the divorce rates are even lower than being married to the church 😉

          • Bel March 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

            But it would hurt more…years of withdrawal and longing especially when the time comes my body would be too old to handle the jagged peaks and harsh terrains…the mere thought breaks my heart…

  • Reply Andrea Stephenson March 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Great post Gabe. I’ll never come across a bear on any walks here in the UK, its seems rather a shame I’m missing out on so much fun…

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks Andrea! For what it’s worth, the bears here in Romania are little guys, hardly worth the fuss.

      And you have the post-St. Patrick’s Day parties to contend with, which is an entirely different, but equally daunted breed of beast 😉

  • Reply Didi March 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

    This made my day, i so needed a good laugh.

    I still wont put an encounter at the bottom of my bucketlist, sorry for not taking your advise there.

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Yay Didi! So glad you’re getting your money’s worth.
      That bucket list of yours much be pretty intense. We’ll have to compare notes someday.

      • Reply Didi March 19, 2017 at 11:34 pm

        Actually my bucket list isn’t that intense when it comes to action or tough things. After/during my depression i tried to find out what were the things making me happy, sorting them in daily things (a flower, a birds song and more) and more bucket list things (sleep under the Aurora Borealis, certain places i want to see, skydive etc). Those first being my life survival things and the last the bonuses, a bucket list.
        The bucket list things I try to fit one or two a year of those in a busy working /everyday life schedule.

        Bucket list comparison is a good thing as one learns lot about people.

        Have fun with yours!

        • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:32 am

          This is a great way to live Didi. Sorting the daily “soul food” from the periodic experiences that stretch us beyond our comfort zone. So glad your navigating through depression well. But we’ll be here if there are ever times when this isn’t the case too!

  • Reply clumsyandsilly March 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

    ??love this and these tips are just spot on.

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:46 am

      hehehe glad you enjoyed and thanks so much for stopping by! Feel free to come back anytime the mood strikes!

      • Reply clumsyandsilly March 21, 2017 at 7:49 am

        I sure did, and I’ll definitely be back for more of your great posts ☺️

  • Reply YellowCable March 19, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for the tips. That might be handy one days if I ever try camping or do a really hiking.

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

      And even if you don’t, I sure hope this added a bit of color to your weekend!

  • Reply Writing to Freedom March 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I love your digital art Gabe, but your tips are unbearable! XD

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:16 am

      hehehe Brad. Your awesome. Don’t know why, but seeing your comments puts this big goofy grin on my face. I think you have a gift my friend.

      • Reply Writing to Freedom March 19, 2017 at 11:58 am

        Thank you Gabe. Smiles are good. I think your gift for humor helps bring it out in myself and others. And again, I’m funnier when I can write, edit and redo versus live conversation. 🙂

  • Reply Chris March 19, 2017 at 10:11 am

    The only deterrant I was told about when in Canada was to attach a bell to my backpack. Yeah that would’ve kept them away. Never knew they hated shiny objects.

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

      I really wanted to include an 8th point about carrying a noise maker, but 8 tips just seems excessive.
      I carry a family sized bag of Skittles in the cargo pocket of my shorts. Its like a box of tic-tact amplified through a speaker. This way, I could fade into a relaxing hiker trance without having to worry about startling anything.
      Don’t know how effective it was, but it sure was a good way to carry some delicious snacks.

  • Reply Buffy Devane March 19, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Haha, well this one’s in stark contrast to my Sunday piety. 😉

    Lovin’ the good laugh I’ve had… and I feel well-arm’d next time I get to Bear Country.
    Thank you, mon ami… you have a sharp wit & lightness of touch: gifts indeed!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Glad you found a few chuckles Buffy. But be careful of those arms in Bear Country. Those are their favorite parts 😉

      • Reply Buffy Devane March 19, 2017 at 10:56 am

        Haha, quite! I’ve grown quite attached to my arms, so I’d like for them to remain attached to me, for some time to come. 😉

  • Reply Liesbet March 19, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I hope nobody takes your tips too seriously. 🙂 The only time I felt surrounded by bears (safely) was in Alaska. Luckily, we had a camper to protect us and to provide a great viewing platform. When one of them pushed our vehicle back and forth, it was a bit nerve-wrecking…

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:54 am

      So far it looks like I’ve laid on the sarcasm thick enough that no one took these tips seriously, but I made sure to run it past Monica first to make absolutely certain that an Urbanite would not be misled.

      Your encounter sounds far more harrowing. Bears rocking our vehicle would rattle my cage too.

  • Reply Amy March 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Hair spray works, very cool!

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

      hehehe only as an appetizer (or maybe as a palate cleanser 😉 )

      • Reply Amy March 19, 2017 at 11:16 am


  • Reply Mick Canning March 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

    That all sounds extremely good advice, Gabe. Now, I’ve never bumped into any bears while hiking, mainly because we don;t have many in the UK, other than a cuddly yellow one that lives in the woods and eats honey and hangs out with a piglet and a donkey, but we do have wild and feral squirrels! Now, these little buggers would maul you to death as soon as look at you, and then come back for your nuts, so any advice is good advice, and I’m sure we can adapt this bear-type advice for the squirrels, and then we’ll all hike more safely afterwards. Phew!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:35 am

      In all seriousness Mick. You gotta watch out for Whinnie. Any creature with the audacity to claim Pooh as a surname should not be messed with.

      Good luck with the attack squirrels. I hear some of these guys can even fly!

      • Reply Mick Canning March 20, 2017 at 3:44 am

        You don’t mess with him, Gabe. The Hephalumps found that out to their cost.
        Flying squirrels! A phrase to strike fear into the heart of the staunchest walker!

        • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:24 am

          Coming from you Mick, thats saying a lot! I’m still getting to know you through your amazing blog, but I’ve already lost track of the countries and continents you’ve tramped through.

          • Mick Canning March 20, 2017 at 4:58 am

            That’s very kind! I’ve not actually been to that many, certainly not by many peoples’ standards. I just keep going back to one or two of them.

          • Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 5:08 am

            Hehehe I guess I got a little star struck after reading recent posts taking place in Tibet and India (places that a re on my bucket list, but haven’t been to yet).

  • Reply Stubbs March 19, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Little known fact: Bears love to be tickled. Right under the armpits. It’s true!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:36 am

      hehehe I have a visual now. I can totally see it. I sure hope laughter really is the best medicine, because the bear tickler will definitely need it.

  • Reply Wendy Weir March 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    The first I ever heard your first suggestion was when my dad gave me that very advice before commencing a hike (to me, to you probably a stroll) around their 40 acres. Their neighbors were baiting bears for photographs, so an increased ursine presence was noted. I laughed. For a second until I realized he was only half-joking. Then he told me to “take a gun.” I spent the rest of my afternoon watching TV, obviously. Really enjoyed your post and art here!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:41 am

      Well…now I won’t be able to copyright ALL of these lifesavings tips ( 😉 ), but it not surprising that Dads, as repositories of wisdom, freely share the good stuff.

      You probably made a good call with the TV though, especially if the good shows like Dawson’s Creek or Perfect Strangers were on. (I think I deserve some sort of participation prize for pulling these classic shows out of the vault).

  • Reply steveo March 19, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Would you say then, that, except for the Sasquatch , the best advice is just to, grin and ‘bear’ it?

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:42 am

      Ha! Well played Steveo. Well played.

  • Reply lilhiddentreasures March 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Hilarious! Now I know why my husband is always insists​ that I go hiking with him.. it’s because I’m the slower one! ?

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:44 am

      What I see is a genuine and touching show of affection from a loving husband. He wants to to fully participate in the entire experience, maybe even collect a few souvenirs along the way (you may call them “scars” and “wounds” but really they’re souvenirs).

  • Reply rugby843 March 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    This was so funny! I loved it!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:44 am

      Sweet! Glad I could send a chuckle or two your way.

  • Reply Retirementallychallenged.com March 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    #1 is the only advice I will need. Note to self: always make sure I have a slightly gimpy hiking companion (preferably one who uses hair spray).

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:54 am

      hehehe Just between us, there is more truth to the HairSpray reference than you might expect. This is probably a story I’ll have to share in a separate post, but I can’t help dropping a little teaser since you highlighted it…
      Several decades ago (when I first joined the military), I was one of the first Air Force Airmen to be allowed to attend the Scout/Sniper School at Ft Benning (hordes of manly men doing lots of grunting and sweating). I didn’t expect the Cadre to immediately dump all of our gear in front of everyone. Now, decades later, I recognize that I was going through an egocentric gotta-look-good phase. But, I’m pretty sure I was the first, and only, guy to ever get caught with a spray can of AquaNet before starting Scout/Sniper School. For the rest of my military career, my call sign was GQ.
      (Almost) funny now. Humiliating then. Pretty sure they call this a “character building experience.”

      • Reply Retirementallychallenged.com March 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm

        Too funny! Now, of course, you must write about your experience in more detail. I guess there are worse call signs than GQ.

        • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:28 am

          hehehe yup this did bring back some (almost) fond memories. Jotted them down in the hopes of fleshing out a cohesive story for a future post. Thanks Janis for the inspiration!

  • Reply JT Twissel March 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Excellent advice! Tell me, are you a lobbyist for Grizzlies’ United?

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:55 am

      hehehe I don’t think I have the social or sales skills to pull off lobbying. But if I were to lobby for a group, Grizzlies United sounds like a worthy cause to hitch my wagon to.

  • Reply Train Today to Reap Tomorrow March 19, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Point no 1 would never be a problem. Only thing there should be only one ? chasing us ?

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:57 am

      Excellent point. There were quite a few times we saw mamas and cubs (or yearlings) scavenging together. So we’ll have to be faster than number of bears chasing us. But this is starting to sound like too much math.

  • Reply dave ply March 19, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I can’t say I’ve had any bear encounters, but I have seen raccoons, skunks, and possums in the yard – will that tide you over?

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 3:59 am

      Wow Dave. You’ve got a full petting zoo in your yard. If you could wrastle up a porcupine and a few boars, you could charge admission. The kids would love it!

      • Reply dave ply March 20, 2017 at 10:02 am

        Not to mention I’d be the only guy in town with a petting zoo that featured porcupines!

  • Reply aFrankAngle March 19, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Great humor. Of course some say “Play dead” … but what if the bear starts to nibble? Worse yet, what if the bear likes the taste of the nibbles.

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:05 am

      hehehe the only benefit to playing dead is to practice for the real thing, which is probably a few hours away if your in the “nibbling” phase. That and struggling too much will just stress out the poor bear that’s trying to get some quality work done.

      • Reply aFrankAngle March 20, 2017 at 6:36 am

        BTW – Full credit to where credit is due … comedian Fred Clett.

  • Reply Di March 19, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Gabriel!
    A great sense of humour in your post, with an element of heed to take care too!
    I’ll keep these hints in mind when I encounter even the dear old Koala, although technically it’s not a bear. Great post and artwork here too ??

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:07 am

      hehehe You got me. I tried to sneak the cuddly Koala into the bear family, but I knew someone would call me on it eventually 😉

      Thanks for the compliments and for keeping me honest!

      • Reply Di March 20, 2017 at 4:15 am

        Oh no not at all, Gabriel… it was me catching myself out. We all call them bears here too but for the sake of transparency in my comment, I thought I’d best be ‘biologically correct’!
        And you’re very welcome ?✨✨

        • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:23 am

          hehehe perfect!

  • Reply Lucid Gypsy March 20, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Gabe you are hilarious, you make me laugh til I cry. I wonder what you’d make of my local long distance trail, http://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/ the rabbits are particularly vicious!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:10 am

      Firstly, looks like a beautiful Trail. Secondly, I have no idea how to counter the attacks of feral rabbits. Monsters like Thumper give me the shivers. I hear they can multiply at will!

  • Reply Photobooth Journal March 20, 2017 at 2:10 am

    It must be a great post when your nearest and dearest are clamouring to see what is making you guffaw so much! Loved the “in the wild” advice. I will use it when next approached by a cassowary or bunyip.

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:19 am

      This just made my day (well it’s the day after, cause last night got busy here, but still). “Blogging brings families together again” Thats the tagline of the commercial playing in my head right now. I can even see sliding images of happy families curled up on oversized couches all laughing and pointing at a shared laptop while a catchy tune plays in the background (I hear the Oscar Mayer Weiner song, but feel free to substitute as needed to make the image complete).
      Then, while I was still floating on the happy high… I looked up cassowary: “World’s Deadliest Bird” kills 11-year old boy. yeesh. Australia doesn’t joke around when it comes to the deadly creatures.

      • Reply Photobooth Journal March 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        And in the commercial the family is looking at your blog and only your blog! You are a very talent comedian, Gabe!

        Yes, we do seriously deadly critters here. Cassowaries are beautiful bastards. Did you look up bunyip, too? I’m impressed if you didn’t need to!

        • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:36 am

          hehehe I had to get help from wikipedia on the bunyip as well. It’s (almost) not fair to call upon “mythical” creatures, but then again, I tapped the Sasquatch, so I think we’re in equally imaginative territory.

          • Photobooth Journal March 24, 2017 at 12:01 am

            Isn’t it cool that almost every culture has a mythical beasty? Long live them all, except of course they don’t. ?

          • Gabriel March 25, 2017 at 10:14 am

            or do they… 😉

          • Photobooth Journal March 25, 2017 at 10:50 pm


  • Reply restlessjo March 20, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Quite thankful that I’m going for a sedate stroll along the seafront with pensioners this morning, Gabe. Think I’ll be safe? 🙂 🙂 That bear sketch is brilliant! Give my love to Venice 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 4:21 am

      I’m sure you will Jo. Juts be careful when you return though. We fans tend to mob your blog after you’ve been away for more than a few days 😉
      And we’re really looking forward to sending love as we visit Venice. We won’t leave until the message is clear!

  • Reply Green Global Trek March 20, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Hopefully I will run into bears some day. As of yet, it has not happened. Deprived huh?

    Hiking twenty miles a day for more than two months! Really? Seriously? or is this as tongue in cheek as the bear tips? that is a whole lot of miles…. Wow.


    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 6:51 am

      hehehe Peta, when I think about your travels and experiences, deprivation from the exotic is the last thing that comes to mind (if bears could be considered exotic).
      And I simplified the typical hiking pace a bit. In the central 1200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, I averaged around 20 miles a day (not including “zero” days where we would rest in town and eat like pigs). However, the northern and southern sections (about 500 miles each) involved more mountaineering and elevation changes, so our pace dropped considerably. So, my average for the entire 2,200 mile (3,800km) Trail, including days off, was closer to 15 miles/day. Definitely not a record-setting pace, but this gave me plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.

  • Reply sydspix March 20, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Enjoyed the blog and the images are great!

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 6:52 am


  • Reply allthethings3 March 20, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Wow, you get a lot of comments! I shared this post on yesterday’s #SundayBlogShare post.

    • Reply Gabriel March 20, 2017 at 9:21 am

      This (engagement with blogging community) has become my favorite part of blogging. I’m still a bit stunned by all the feedback, but I’m lovin it!
      Thanks so much for sharing on your blog!

  • Reply Arionis March 20, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll be sure to follow them the next time I’m out. If you never hear from me again, it’s probably because I am too busy playing with my new furry friends.

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:24 am

      Your totally welcome Arionis! It’s my way of sharing a little Trail Magic with fellow hikers. No need to thank me… the image of you playing with your new furry friends is all the thanks anyone could every ask for 😉

  • Reply Ann Coleman March 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I loved this post! But sincerely hope that the first piece of art was based on an actual photo. You described very well the idiotic way people sometimes behave around wildlife (and made it quite funny to boot.) Have you ever been for Florida? Because a lot of what you say relates to alligators as well…could be another great post!

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:26 am

      While I’ve never seen one, I’ve heard there are entire TV series focused around playing with alligators. THAT’s just crazy!

  • Reply mydangblog March 20, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Great tips! I still can’t get past that awful bear scene in The Revenant. If only Leo had had some hairspray!

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:33 am

      hehehe True. But if Leo had hairspray, it might have cost him that hard-won Oscar.

  • Reply Tanya March 21, 2017 at 12:37 am

    HA!! I LOVE this! I laughed my head off while imagining these hypothetical (or-are-they?) bear encounters! So great, Gabe! I can’t say I have any desire to go hiking after reading this, but if I ever do, I will make sure I bring freshly laundered clothes that have been soaked in Tide and loads of tutti-fuitti hairspray! You know, cause freshness matters, even in bear infested woods! Giddy up! ?

    • Reply Gabriel March 21, 2017 at 2:41 am

      hehehe glad you found a few laughs here Tanya. But don’t know if its worth it if I’ve talked you out of potential hike.

      But the Tide and hairspray shell works great for so many occasions. I’m pretty sure this magical combo was responsible for repelling so many people too during the 80’s and 90’s.

      I just saw that you published a new post and can’t really focus on comment here… I’m off to check out the good stuff!

  • Reply Terese March 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    I’m with Tanya, actually I had no desire to go hiking in bear country BEFORE I read your post! We had a bear encounter while camping in the Sierra’s about 10 years ago. That was one encounter too many!

    • Reply Gabriel March 23, 2017 at 3:53 am

      hehehe so glad you made it through this post Terese. I was worried my “bear triggers” warning from a previous post would have scared you away.
      As far as I’m concerned, you get extra credit for facing down those fears!

      • Reply Terese March 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        I would love this comment if WP had such a button!

        • Reply Gabriel March 25, 2017 at 10:13 am

          this works just as well for me Terese. Cheers!

  • Reply candidkay March 22, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I used to hike alone (gulp) in the Rockies on business trips. And it never occurred to me that I’d actually run across a bear or a mountain lion or any such thing. I was more worried about the weirdo human counterparts who I might cross paths with. But now you have me thinking–I was probably pretty darn lucky! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 23, 2017 at 3:57 am

      Your instincts are right on Kristine. Crazy people cause a lot more problems on the Trails than the animals do (although its still far safer than strolling the streets of big inner cities).
      Now I’m really jealous of the kind of business trip that would allow time to go for hikes in the Rockies…

  • Reply Bun Karyudo March 23, 2017 at 5:22 am

    I’ve never seen a bear while out walking, Gabe, but that may be partly because I tend to move through the forest with all the stealth and cunning of a runaway bulldozer. Some people say I should put bells on my pack too, but I’m always too afraid the next angel to get his wings may be me.

    • Reply Gabriel March 25, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Dang it! The Spam monster got u again. I think I’ve figured out why we’re getting targeted though… The Spam monster is jealous of our awesomeness and doesn’t want the rest of the blogosphere to see how tame and ordinary it is. But just in case, I’m gonna look for an internet equivalent to that bell you mentioned. Maybe we can scare the Spam-bear away…

      • Reply Bun Karyudo March 25, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        Thanks for rescuing me from the clutches of the spam monster, Gabriel! That was a lucky escape, I can tell you.

        • Reply Gabriel March 26, 2017 at 3:01 am

          Hehehe it’s me that’s grateful. Words from Bun are boons

  • Reply rgayer55 March 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I can’t wait for your tips on Copperhead and Diamondbacks, Gabe. While not as cuddly as bears, they do inspire hikers and woodsmen to practice their jumping ability as if training for the next Olympic summer games.

    • Reply Gabriel March 25, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Sorry about the delayed reply Russel, been through a rough patch recently. But your comment does remind me of the stupidest picture I’ve ever taken. A coiled up Copperhead from about a foot away because my phone camera didn’t capture the detail I was hoping it would. I suspect that post will be making an appearance in the not too distant future.

  • Reply Holistic Wayfarer March 27, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Just the post to reread before camping. Your personality shines, Gabe. Blog on.

    • Reply Gabriel March 27, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      hehehe enjoy the bears, and thanks so much. We’re just getting started here!

  • Reply Inside the Mind of Isadora March 31, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    We drove to Colordao Springs, Colordao for a wedding a few years ago. During our drive, we stopped to walk and strecth our legs a little. Suddenly there was an odor that my hubby said was bear. I was like …. WHAT??? We got in the car and continued on our way. Later that night, the announcer on tv said to be on the lookout for bears. YIKES …!!! Thanks for the hints.
    Isadora ?

    • Reply Gabriel April 2, 2017 at 8:03 am

      hehehe these fuzzy little friends have a fun way of sneaking up on you when least expected don’t they? And despite all the encouragement, they are still stubbornly resistant to the daily showering thing that everyone else has no problem following.

      • Reply Inside the Mind of Isadora April 3, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        Ironically, we just saw a movie this weekend called “Wilderness”. I won’t give it away in the evnt that you’d be interested in seeing it. BEAR was the star. LOL

  • Reply galwaygirlabroad April 3, 2017 at 10:58 am

    This is great! So funny! Brought back lots of memories of when I went hiking in areas with bears – have to admit I spent a lot of time terrified I’d meet one! Turns out they weren’t that scary when I did! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel April 4, 2017 at 3:30 am

      Hehehe so glad you enjoyed. And thanks for following- anyone that overcomes their bear fears is more than welcome!

  • Reply Otto von Münchow April 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I have encountered bears a few times. Next time I will keep your tips in mind to get the most out of it. 🙂

  • Reply b. breazeale June 8, 2017 at 10:30 am

    This made me laugh out loud, which I rarely do these days. But you got two of us, cause the nice guy who let me share his table smiled because I did. 🙂 So good! It’s kinda like wearing perfume when you do a gorilla trek…just not a good idea. Not because of the gorillas per se, but given that all things insect are at least twice the size of anything we see in our parts, well, you just really don’t want to attract more ‘attention’ than necessary.

    I need to start writing more about my crazy travel adventures, huh? One can only handle so many exceprts of pain and heartbreak.

    Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

    • Reply Gabriel June 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      That’s the best comliment I could hope for Natalie. To trigger sponateous public outbursts, and infect those nearby… the CDC better watch out, this stuff could go viral 😉

      And yes, I, along with many others I’m sure, would love to read about your adventures in the Congo (and beyond).


      • Reply b. breazeale June 9, 2017 at 9:56 am

        Thanks, Gabe…adventure to say the very least!! 🙂

        • Reply Gabriel June 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

          Indeed Natalie!

  • Reply Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC June 20, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Looking for one more humorous link to post at the end of this Friday’s Funny about sleep, Tom and Audrey suggested this post. My response: bears hibernate – close enough! Watch for a ping.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Reply Gabriel June 21, 2017 at 5:29 am

      That’s wonderful! and watch out for the bears 😉

      • Reply Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC June 21, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        I spent a week in the “official” tent campground in the Smokies (reservations required!) and we were repeatedly cautioned NOT to keep food in the tent. As we were leaving we saw a huge black bear heading right to the portable picnic table where a young family had spread out a bear banquet, despite numerous park warnings.

        We rolled down the window and screamed, “Get the little kids in your car NOW – run!” They barely make it (no pun intended). We drove straight to the ranger station to report it, and they headed out immediately with a tranquilizer gun. I felt sorry for the bear.

        Somewhere I have photos.

        • Reply Gabriel June 22, 2017 at 5:53 am

          Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common, especially in the Smokies. Bears have learned that the Appalachian Trail in particular is a roving lunch line, filled with easily obtainable treats from careless hikers.

          Large populations of hikers move through the Smokies along the Appalachian Trail in March and April, when cubs (and their mamas) are in need of extra food. These two populations collide at packed shelters, and every year bears “learn” that tents near shelters are a great place to look for food because many hikers choose not to hang their food on the provided bear cables.

          Hiker/camper related injuries resulting from bear encounters are incredibly rare, but as you mentioned, the bears ultimately lose in the contest for easy food.

          • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC June 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

            My friend and I were too lazy to hassle hanging our food – we kept it all in my companion’s van and sort of tailgated our meals – not even crumbs in our tent.

            As we humans encroach increasingly upon the habitats of the other species on this planet we have to expect there will be fallout – and sometimes altercations. They are, after all, still wild animals.

            I live within the city limits and have actually seen deer (with racks!) roaming the nabe quite a few times – and often in the little park nearby.

            Amazing how many otherwise aware human beings don’t really think about the implications of the shrinking environment for our animal friends. We tend to be an arrogant species, unfortunately. (Witness the folks we elect as our leaders!!)

  • Reply Dippy-Dotty Girl June 22, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I have been told by reliable sources that you can slap the bear too. It shall startle the poor thing to waddle away into the wilds. Or even run.

    You are a real wise one when it comes to our ‘cuddly’ childhood ‘teddies’. Have I mentioned that my husband wants to hug one when we are out on a hike? In which case, I shall have to join him too even though I am loathe about going anywhere near its smelly self.

    And what is this judgement about Tide, eh? Is it something American that I have yet to pick up?

    • Reply Gabriel June 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      during long distance hikes, laundry is such an infrequent occurrence we begin to smell like wild animals. We also develop a keener sense of smell, particularly when it comes to laundry detergents and shampoos and deodorants. Most of us can separate out Tide users from Downy users from 5 feet away depending on wind conditions…

  • Reply Deb July 8, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Oh that’s hilarious!! Two summers ago I was sitting in my sunroom typing a post on an early Sunday morning. As I look up there strolling out of the woods is a bear…I could not believe my eyes. I was like OMG, OMG, OMG, where’s my phone, I have to take a picture, yeah right! He./she walked between my house and my neighbor’s then across the street. I was peeking through my curtains, hoping not to be noticed. He/she stopped to smell the flowers my other neighbor had adorning each side of his garage. The bear then moved along the side of his house, into the backyard and down the yards of the rest of the neighborhood. I was dumb-founded and amazed, I had never seen a bear close-up like that before. It was so exciting. I have never seen him/her again. But if I ever do I will be sure to employ all of your nifty tips…thanks!! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel July 9, 2017 at 8:49 am

      hehehe loved the image of a friendly bear stopping to smell the flowers on a stroll through the neighborhood!

      • Reply Deb July 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

        It made me laugh too. ☺

  • Reply Ritu July 13, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Does Pooh Bear count???

    • Reply Gabriel July 13, 2017 at 1:41 am

      ahhh yes the ferocious Winnie the Pooh.

      • Reply Ritu July 13, 2017 at 5:27 am

        Hes my favourite!

  • Reply Jennifer July 13, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I’ll be sure to bring the AquaNet the next time I hike Bear Mtn. Perhaps a brush and blow dryer too.

    • Reply Gabriel July 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

      hehehe which Bear man is that? If it’s the one in NY, I’m pretty sure you can pick up Aqua net with an ice cream sandwich at the lodge near the zoo;)

  • Reply anhistorianabouttown July 13, 2017 at 7:00 am

    This has brought back the hours I spent each summer learning how to react to each kind of bear attack- climb a tree for a grizzly (too fat to climb), play dead for a black bear (too boring for them). As the youngest in my family, I just half assumed I’d be tossed to the bear so others could get away ??

    • Reply Gabriel July 13, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Sounds like your family had a wonderful plan already in place 😉 You’re one of the lucky ones!

  • Reply Unbound Roots July 13, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Gabe, thank you for the wonderfully entertaining article! You had me laughing throughout. As a fellow outdoor enthusiast, I will now happily be following your blog!

    • Reply Gabriel July 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Yay! Another blogger with a healthy respect for the healing nature of dirt under fingernails, fresh air and… NATURE! So glad you’ve joined the (Almost) Unsalvageable team.
      We’re just getting started here, so stop back by anytime the mood strikes!

      • Reply Unbound Roots July 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm

        Will do, and thank you. 🙂

  • Reply susielindau July 13, 2017 at 11:48 am

    “Definitely Tide.” Brilliant! Ha!
    Thanks for the list. I hope I’m carrying Aqua net if I ever do encounter a bear.

    • Reply Gabriel July 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      I hear Bed head is OK too if you’re in a pinch…

    Now it's your turn to play!

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