7-Day Forecast for Scenic Hot Springs Area (2,900 ft near beginning of Trail Head)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bear Warning

It was reported to me that a couple sneaking up to the springs (with two dogs . . . pit bulls, one off leash) encountered the black bear on the upper BPA road near the second tower. Fortunately the bear wasn't interested in them . . . just looked at them as they backed off. Unfortunately, this bear seems to have claimed the territory and is at home around humans and human scent. We have to remember, though, that this is a female bear with at least one cub and the potential for coming between her and her cub is high. I've had at least six sightings in the last week at all times of the day.

Bears are normally shy but will become extremely aggressive if they perceive a threat to their young. Be aware . . . make noise and make sure the bear knows where you are. Surprises cause bad encounters. If you are faced with a problem:
  • DO NOT RUN! Running incites the chase instinct in bears. Stand your ground and back away slowly. Besides, a bear can sprint up to 35mph easily. You can't.
  • If you are stupid enough to bring a dog up (like this couple did), keep it leashed. A dog will want to face off against a bear and you will be the loser here when the bear responds predictably and aggressively.
  • Speak in a deep, calm, measured voice. DO NOT SCREAM! Shrill sounds remind bears of their prey. Sound bigger and confident.
  • Make yourself bigger . . . hold a pack over your head. The bear has no desire to fight unless it's young are at risk. Make it think twice.
  • Bear are great tree climbers; better than you. Forget that idea. However, bears are lousy at climbing the braces of the BPA towers. If you are close to one and the bear won't back off, get up on a BPA tower . . . potentially high enough for your cell phone to work.
  • As a last resort, fight back with everything you have, sticks, stones, etc. Do not play dead to a black bear (as opposed to a grizzly). Black bears will back off the moment threat is removed.
An observation . . . I went up there. Yeah, I'm crazy but careful. Noticed my warning sign on the gate had been torn down (thanks, you idiots). I followed the bear prints as best I could and they definitely went up the trailhead area. Bears are foragers, especially for the garbage we humans throw over the side of the trail. Think about that the next time you feed the wildlife up at the springs. Are we inviting troublesome bears to take up residence?

Bottom line? Well, you probably don't belong up there on private property anyway, but if you are going to continue to ignore the signs please keep in mind that this area is forest and wilderness . . . this is bear territory. Be aware and Be careful!

Sightings? Let me know.



  1. Anonymous8:09 AM

    One added note to Rick's post. If you are going to hike up to the springs, one of the best (and cheepest) pieces of equipment you can have in areas where Bears are known to be, is simply a bell. It can be any size bell (you know the little jingle bells, the round ones). Just attach them to your pack and it will do the work as you walk. As Rick stated, Black Bears will avoid you IF they know your there. The bells alert them to your presence, thus no surprise to the bear or to you. Also talking loud, singing or claping your hands help alert the Bear. Bears are an important part of the forest ecosystem, please let the moma bear have her space, and to be able to teach her cub to avoid humans. The bell will help with this. Dogs being brought up to the area is a very bad idea, this will only cause a confrontation as the moma will protect her cub. Past human bear encounters result usually in the killing of the bear by law enforcement. Do your part not to cause a confrontation.

    Bear (the two legged one)

  2. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Here's a great web site with all the Black Bears facts. Go to:

    Bear (the two legged one)

  3. Hello,

    My name is Matt. I'm a carpenter/solar power guy from northern Wisconsin. Last summer I was to Washington for my first time and I fell deeply in love with your beautiful state.

    My family and I are driving west again this year (on pure vegetable oil), heading for the Vashon Island Earth Fair and points beyond. We're planning to camp in the Skykomish area on Thursday August 3rd.

    We'd greatly appreciate the opportunity to spend Thursday evening/Friday morning at your pristine site - I assure you we tread VERY lightly.

    I can be reached at or feel free to give me a call - 715-857-5088, if we don't answer please leave a message. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks in advance,

    Matt Blackwood