Lucky to Be Alive Pt. III: The Bear Encounter

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By David Humphreys, Co-founder of MTN Talk

Michael Gribbin, Steven Scarcello and Lane Smith ventured deep into the woods outside Vancouver, British Columbia. The three North Idaho residents loved exploring new places. Little did they know a life-changing event was about to happen.

The three hikers trudged up the grueling dirt trail. As they grew tired, the hikers stopped talking in order to catch their breath.

The group went quiet.

“I was kind of in the zone because it was kind of a hard hike. I was just staring at the ground trying to breathe,” Gribbin said. “We were all tired and we weren’t saying anything.”

Huckleberry bushes skirted both sides of the path as the group hiked deeper into the wild. With his two friends close behind, Gribbin rounded a corner, then stopped dead in his tracks.

A full-grown female black bear and her cubs stood 10′ away.

“I stopped and I remember saying ‘Oh shit,’” Gribbin said.

The enormous bear stared at the stunned hiker. After a fleeting moment, the bear ran straight for Gribbin.

black bear
Photo provided by Pixabay.

“I saw this bear coming to eat me and I’m not going to stand my ground,” Gribbin said. “I was like, frick. It’s coming at me—I need to move.”

As the bear charged, Gribbin jumped from the trail and into the nearby bushes.

“Once [the bear] saw that I ditched my friends, it turned towards Steven.”

Scarcello and Smith came face-to-face with the backcountry behemoth.

“It turned towards us,” Scarcello said. “I stared at it because that’s what I heard you’re supposed to do. I looked at it in the eyes, and the whole time Lane was there asking ‘what do we do?’”

Black bear in woods.jpg
Photo provided by Pixabay.

Over the course of few long seconds, Scarcello and Smith slowly backed away from the bear and into a nearby thicket.

“The bear did stop,” Scarcello said.

Once the bear and her cubs wandered off, the hikers regrouped and recounted the extraordinary event that had just unraveled.

“After it happened, we couldn’t stop taking about it,” Gribbin said. “We kind of joked like even in the face of danger, we’re still pretty funny. Even when we got charged with the bear, all we could say was ‘oh, shoot!”  

The group originally planned to camp in the area that evening, but after such an alarming event, they agreed to leave the park instead.

“We didn’t have anything to tie our food up with. We had like bear food, like peanut butter,” Gribbin chuckled. “We were like, OK. We’re not camping here. We just hiked down.”

On their way back, the group was stopped by a fellow hiker.

“She ran up beside us and asked ‘There’s a bear?’ She’s like ‘where is it?’  I’m like, ‘you don’t want to see it.’”

Looking back on the event, Scarcello believed the group reacted well under the circumstances.

“I think overall, we did what you’re supposed to.” Scarcello

What an incredible story from three local backpackers! For more tips on how to react during a bear encounter, feel free to visit these helpful links:

National Parks Service—

Bear Smart—

Do you have a wild adventure you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below! As always, thank you so much for reading and supporting our outdoor blog.

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