I haven't been on here is a while, nice to be back, the only thing better would be hiking out in those NJ trails. Anyway, since I'm an author, I belong to this mailing list called HARO: Help A Reporter Out. I receive daily mailings that have lists of requests for almost anything.
This one just came in. Someone is looking for information about bear encounters in NJ. It appears they're looking for residents of NJ (or former residents) that have had encounters in their yard, or maybe vehicle? Doesn't say if hiking would count. My guess is this would be for a newspaper piece, or possibly radio/TV review.
Anyway, if you wish to be famous, or at least help out a reporter with information on how to deal with bear contacts in NJ, drop them a line. Very often you will get no reply, so don't be offended. Quite often these folks get hundreds of answers, so it is assumed you may not hear anything.
Even though I had one of the funniest bear encounters in human history, I'm not a resident, nor former resident, so I didn't bother to answer. Do post a reply here if you have any success. I ended up as chapter seven in a book because of a HARO response.
Author of: Three Hundred Zeroes
16) Summary: Looking for New Jersey residents who have had bear encounters
Media Outlet: Anonymous
Deadline: 7:00 PM EST - 24 September
A monthly New Jersey lifestyle publication is looking to
interview residents or former residents who have had a bear
encounter and reported it to animal control or the DEP. Did a
bear lunch on your garbage or try to enter your home? If so, we
want to hear your story.
Must be a current or former New Jersey resident
Even though I had one of the funniest bear encounters in human history,...
So? Are you just gonna leave us hanging????
I'm sorry Paul. On my AT thru-hike, I had an interesting encounter in NJ. Here is an excerpt from my book, Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail, that describes the event. I reference my "heart pounding," I had a six-artery heart bypass operation earlier, which is where the title of the book comes from. It also alludes to my brother's Purple Heart Medal. Many of the readers on the this blog have already read the book, so the event will be familiar for them. Enjoy:
I camped at the Wawayanda Shelter for my last night in New Jersey. The shelter is in the Wawayanda State Park. This state park is a very popular place for both New Jersey and New York residents to come and get away from it all. The park has a huge parking lot and is a very crowded place in the summer. The parking lot has a ranger station, numerous picnic tables and a tourist information building. The water source for the shelter is at a state park maintenance building at the parking lot.
I walked down to the maintenance building and filled my water bag and bottles. It was a very hot July afternoon and the water coming out of the tap on the side of the building was very warm. I decided this would be a great opportunity for a hot shower. My water bag holds about 5 liters of water and has a small spout that can be opened to use it as a field shower. I walked down off the parking lot into the woods and worked my way down into the forest so as not to be visible from the lot. I didn’t get too far when I spied a female bear tearing a rotted log apart looking for grubs. She didn’t appear to see me; I took her photograph, and then headed back up the hill toward the parking lot. The leaf cover was plentiful so even though I was fairly close to the lot I figured as long as I was quiet I wouldn’t be spotted.
I stripped down and all I was wearing was my Crocs™ so I could keep my feet from having leaves stick to them. I stuck my hiking pole in the ground next to me, found a nice limb to hang my water bag on and started the shower. Since the bag is a limited water supply, I wet myself up, turned off the water, scrubbed with soap, working up a nice lather, and then turned on the spout again. At this point my body was covered in a good layer of soap bubbles and suds. My face was covered in suds so I rinsed my face and then turned to rinse my back. Stunned, I couldn’t believe my eyes—there was the bear standing right in front of me, up on her hind legs! She was looking at me in complete fascination. She had the puzzled look of a child, looking at me as if to say, “What is he doing? What is that stuff on his body? Is it food? My, he’s handsome!” (Well, maybe not that fascinated...).
For a moment I froze. Here I was, standing buck naked in front of a female bear just about as tall as I, maybe twelve feet away. Panicked, I decided that the best defense is a good offense; so I grabbed my hiking pole and charged at her, screaming at the top of my lungs; gambling she would turn and run. Notice a pattern here? Remember New Hampshire, hanging in my hammock screaming at a moose? At least there was no blinding light this time.
My gamble worked, she dropped down on all four and made for the hills with me in hot pursuit. She crashed through the underbrush, destroying everything in her path. Wanting to ensure that she kept going I made chase for a considerable distance; I wanted to make sure she didn’t come back. In the ensuing chase the briars and thorns tore up my legs; adding to the intensity of my screams.
I stopped to catch my breath and regain my composure; my heart was pounding. It was then I looked up and realized I was standing next to the parking lot and a line of bug-eyed tourists were enjoying the show. All I could imagine were the conversations: “Hey Martha, check out the crazy thru-hiker. It must be mating season; did you see him chasing that bear? Poor thing, lucky he didn’t catch her.” Or “Henry, should we call the authorities; did you see all that foam? You don’t suppose he has rabies, do you?” “I guess there’s no telling what these thru-hikers will do in this heat.”
I timidly retreated to my gear, dressed and as quietly as possible made my way back up the Trail to the shelter, avoiding the parking lot. The rest of my night was uneventful and I slept well; hopefully the traumatized bear did the same. New York State was next.