It was our final full day in the Smokies.
My wife had not been feeling well before the trip, and after discusssing our plans for Wednesday, which included Roaring Fork, and/or Cades Cove, we came to the conclusion that we had spent way too much time in the car already, and needed a day just to kick back at the cabin. While I was a bit dissappointed, I had to admit that I was tired of driving, and I had 8-9 hours of it to look forward to on our return home on Thursday.
So after going out to get a couple of local newspapers, I came back to the cabin and fixed some breakfast. On the way back I took the oppurtunity to explore the cabins and scenery above our cabin. (always thinking about the next trip).
After breakfast, we went through much of the literature and information we had picked up the last few days. We had lots of time to talk about the things we liked, what we would do on the next visit. We snacked and rested, I spent much of the day sitting on the deck reading. It was very quiet, with lttle or no traffic on the road below.
The afternoon was more of the same really. Some dogs burst out of the woods chasing some small rodent. There were three dogs, and they had no problems running up and down almost vertical hillsides. They weren't wild or anything, and they looked well kept and healthy. There were three of them, and they were three different breeds. Whatever they were chasing got the best of them, and they went on off somewhere for new adventures.
The cabin in which we stayed had three levels. As you approach from a circular driway, on the first level is a sliding glass door that leads to the gameroom and second bedroom. To the left of that are the stairs,passing by the hot tub, and leading to the main living areas and the kitchen. Lots of stairs, with at least two turns, and mulitple landings. The third floor holds the master, along with the master bath, but it's really a loft, and only accessable from the inside of the cabin.
The structure is totally surrounded by decking, with the far right side screened in for the length of the cabin. This screened porch area is on the side that overlooks the spring, which is fed both from underground, and the rainwater that flows down the mountain.
So the sun is going down on our last day. I'm in and out at this point, having coffee on the deck. My wife has just finished cleaning out the car, getting ready for loading up the next day. We both came back inside. She's on the couch, and I'm in a chair. We're both reading, and hoping maybe there is going to be a great movie on the tube, when I see some movement on my right, through the window by the front door.
The first thing I saw was a nose. I don't know why, but I swear I can still picture that nose. Even before i saw the rounded ears my thoughts came back to the dogs that were running around the cabin earlier,..and I thought to myself, that's a mighty big dog.
He was huge. Yeah I know it's spring, and they've had very little time to put on weight, but this BEAR was 275 - 300 lbs. And he was WALKING AROUND ON THE PORCH!
He passed by the second window alongside the front, and I knew I wasn't dreaming. I can't remember just how I notified my wife, I think I said "buh buh buh uhbubbala",..but she got the idea somehow, and asked me if the doors were locked :-)
We hit the lights so that we could maybe see him, without him seeing us! Nope. He walked all the way to where I had been sitting all day, sniffed around a bit, and looked right at me. And he had a seat. He was more than welcome, since he now owned my porch!
He got a good look at us, and proceeded to take the tour. He walked back the way he came, passing the windows and the front door while we beat ourselves up for using the last of the film. He walked all the way around to the backside, stopping at the screen door to knock over the empty garbage can. Finding nothing there, he walked to a spot where I couldn't see him.
Now don't call me stupid. At this point in time, I'm suffering the effects of a supreme adrenaline rush, and I've just got to see what this bear is doing. So leaving the door open for a quick escape, I walked out onto the screen porch.
I'm ever so carefully peering around the corner. I'm thinking," Well, the screen door is latched, and I can get back inside before he tears through it and eats me", when suddenly we are almost face to face!
Both of us jump back! It was like a cartoon the way we both sought so quickly to escape each other's vision. Then we DID IT AGAIN! We both jumped back at exactly the same time.I swear it was so funny I think he was laughing. I had to go inside because I didn't want to roll on the floor outside.
So there we were. He really had us trapped in the house if you think about it. It's kinda scary. He kept making the tour, and I kept following from window to window, upstairs and downstairs.
Then it got dark.
He went around to the spring, eating the foliage and lounging a bit in the grass under a huge oak tree by the spring. He rooted around some downstream, only to return and lay under the tree. I got out my flashlight, and shined it down on him from above on the screen porch, he didn't seem to mind.
At first that is.
It fully dark by now, and he's just returned to the spring, under the tree, after sniffing around our SUV. I know better then to leave food in there, so he didn't get up on it or tear anything up. I'm standing up there, shining my light down on him when he gets back on his hind legs, looks up at me, and with one jump and two strong pulls of his claws around the trunk of the oak, we are now at eye level!
He made a 14' climb in less time than it took for me to take one step backward. He just gave me a look, and went back down. I know what you're thinking, but no, I didn't have to change my underwear.
Finally, he semed to figure out that we were not running a soup kitchen, and he made his way back up the mountain after hanging around for almost 2 hours.
Important point: Someone has been feeding this bear. It's really too bad, because like they say, a fed bear is a dead bear. He's now drawn to the road, and to people. I actually stomped the deck and yelled at him at one point and he just turned around and looked at me. Even if there is no incident with people that gets someone hurt, he will now ingest plastic, or foil, or styrofoam while picking up after humans and rooting through garbage.
People wrote in the journal at the cabin about feeding a racoon. They even named him "scout". We never saw the racoon, just his prints, but we can all see what "feeding scout" has led to.
I let the rental company know about the bear, and they will warn future tenants. It states clearly in the rental agreement that people are not supposed to feed the wildlife, and I think we made the dangers known in the little journal before we left. When I think that my grandchildren, or anyone's children could have been playing outside when he arrived, the possibilities are too horrible to contemplate.
So, that was our latest adventure in the Smokies. We are already planning a return trip in October, and will probably book this week. Only problem with that is that I'm not sure I can wait until October :-)
Thanks for all the advice. I've learned so much here, and put it to use so often in our trips, that I now feel like the area is our second home.
And thanks for letting me share.