On saturday morning around 9:00 a.m. on the top of the three mile wide plateau that is Wilson Mountain in Sedona Arizona, I encountered a bear. There was no one else around. Just me and the bear. I was walking along the trail daydreaming about sunsets and pretty girls when I suddenly heard a twig break. Thinking it was another hiker or possibly a bunny rabbit, I quickly looked around. What I saw was about 3-4 feet tall on all fours and weighing I would guess around 400 pounds covered in brown fur walking 25 yards away from me. (I found out later that it was probably a harmless 'black bear' which happened to have brown fur.) It made eye contact with me for a moment before slowly tramping away the opposite direction. I was scared. I also wanted to get a picture, but since my brand new digital camera makes a little jingle when it turns on, I didn't want that jingle to be the trigger mechanism for this bear's inner human killing rage. The camera stayed in its case. I quickly tried to remember what the best thing is to do when a bear charges--look big and yell? fall into a fetal position and play dead? run away? stay still? climb a tree? I ruled out climbing a tree since I was quite sure bears could climb trees, but I couldn't decide on the other options. So I just kept walking on the trail, quickening my pace (and heart rate)while constantly looking behind my back to see if I was being hunted-muttering over and over again "I saw a bear, I saw a bear.."
Soon, I was on the downward trail and safely away from the foresty plateau that is home to at least one scary looking bear. About 15 minutes later, I came across a pair of hikers who were on their way up. Here was my dilemma: Should I tell the hikers about the bear encounter? Would I want to know if a hiker coming down the mountain had seen a sometimes carnivorous beast in the vicinity of my destination? I'm not sure. How would they react if I told them? Would they become excited at the prospect of a bear sighting? If so, then it might have been a real disappointment if the bear didn't turn up. Or, would they have become overly frightened and allowed the possibility of running into bears ruin their Sedona adventure? I made a mental note to investigate the proper etiquette on whether or not to divulge a bear sighting to oncoming hikers.
As we passed, the hikers, a middle aged couple probably from Connecticut and clearly out of breath said, "good morning". They asked me if the hike was worth it. I nodded and said "Absolutely." Then I added, "Make sure you have your camera ready."
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."