The most important thing to remember when hiking in wilderness areas, is to use your senses (eyes, smell & hearing) at all times. Being aware of your surroundings will eliminate any dangerous encounter. Such is the case of my hike.
On September 11, 2010, three of us set out to hike the Goat Flats/Tin Can Gap Trail (MT Baker National Forest-Boulder River Wilderness). After driving eighteen miles on a gravel road with mud holes, we arrived at the trail by 10am. It was a late start. The tail is 6.7 miles one way. The elevation gain is 2800 ft. and the highest point is 5800 ft. The weather was mild, low clouds and no rain.
The trail started at 3000 ft. We heard gun shots in the distance. The trail needed work. We plowed through mud holes, over rocks and water most of the way. Before Saddle Lake, we had to cut through the trail. Some fallen trees over the trail. After the lake, it smoothed out a bit, but continued to have roots on the trail. I slipped and fell on my ass in one of the meadows before the Goat Flats.
About four miles into the hike, we came across bear prints and bear droppings. We also could 'smell' bear on the Goat Flats trail, which was carried by the wind from the below basin. At this time it was about noon.
We got to the Goat Flats trail just after 1pm. Exposure on the Goat Flats Trail is east and west. With no technical difficulty, we continued to pace ourselves.
On the way going down, we encountered a black bear more then 200 lbs. We didn't notice him at first. The bear gave a 'grunt' to warn us he was present. We immediately stopped. The three of us stayed calm. After locating him in the dense underbrush to the left of our trail. We began to talk loudly, and I blew my whistle. In seconds, the bear ran up the tree, checked us out. Then several seconds later, jumped down and ran off. This could have gone bad, but by allowing the bear his space and letting him know we were present, gave us the upper hand.
We arrived back at 7pm and hour before night fall. What an amazing day I had...