This morning I was thinking about the bear we saw on our hike last Saturday. It looked a lot like the bear in this picture, although it was a different one. This is the bear we call Sassy. I've got a bunch of different photographs of Sassy Bear — including ones with her mom, her brother, and more recently, two adorable cubs of her own. She's my favorite, obviously, because I've watched her grow from a cub to being a mom. The bear we saw on Saturday looked a lot like Sassy at one point. The fur was shorter though, and it was a little older than Sassy was in this picture. I would guess Saturday's bear was between 1-2 years old.
Anyway, I've seen a lot of bears between living in Montana and traveling to national parks. Every single time I've seen a bear it was because I or someone else spotted it first. Most of the time the bears are so far away that they don't even notice us looking at them. The ones I've seen at home have definitely seen me, and I've even been snuffed at by quite a few of them.
The bear I saw on Saturday saw me first. I don't think that's ever happened in any of my bear sightings. I'm pretty sure I've always seen the bear first. Not this time — that bear was looking me dead in the eye when I first spotted it. That was a first for me. The more I think about it, the more eerie it feels. How long had it been watching me? As soon as it heard me say, "Bear!" it took off. Rick and I were glad about that, but more worried about it being with its mother. We have never felt the need to walk with our bear spray canisters out of the holsters before. It all turned out okay, of course, but it makes me wonder how many bears have seen me first that I didn't even notice were there. That's kind of creepy to think about.