It was 6am, running barefoot up Tunnel Creek trail (behind my Tahoe home) when I noticed another set of footprints in the sand and thought , 'cool, another 'barefoot runner''! Further up the trail I stepped out on a huge boulder to take in the panorama of Lake Tahoe's exquisite east shore from 1,500 ft, when my gaze dropped to the movement 30 ft in front of me. OMG...those prints were from a Bear! I backed up and ran down the mountain.
That night I realized how my urban upbringing had not prepared me for living in a 'Wildlife Habitat'. Imagine the challenge for visitors being startled by a bear (as with all wildlife, they walk so softly :).
The next morning I ran to 'Pride Rock' (a boulder I named as the goal post for my 1-2,000 ft elevation run). I climbed up the boulder to view into the valley created by towering mountains still above me, and the Lake to my right. On high sensory alert, the morning sun set a spotlight on a large black bear, across the valley, walking down the mountain. We were both out on a morning trek. I watched him move down the trail for about 30 seconds and then ran home, still not quite comfortable realizing I was in his home.
The next morning on Pride Rock with a strong wind at my back, I noticed a leap between bushes about 300? ft below me. ok...yellow like a lab, too yellow for deer, too large for coyote and it leaped...Cougar? I quietly exit my perch, grateful being upwind covered my scent. Yes, they all live here.
I had been gleefully running alone up this mountain between 5 and 6am for a year oblivious to the activity in the wildlife activity happening beyond my focused awareness. Shifting awareness, I noticed so much more, including...when I stop moving, wildlife moves.
Over the decades living here, it is still a bit startling when I see a bear, especially on the trail, but always inspiring. What surprises me is how graciously bears have adopted our presence and encroachment into their ancient habitat. We moved into their home, brought pizza, built homes along their corridors (creeks) and left food in our cars..then wondered?
Black Bears are doing their best to accommodate humans. As an 'Indicator Species' for a healthy forest, their survival is critical to the survival of the forest. i think about what we learned when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, as habitat and ecological balance was restored. We were willing to pivot toward a greater understanding for how we might live in balance with nature and all the other species that contribute to this web of wonder.
if we continue to chip away at the collective life support systems that compromise all other species in the process, we can't be surprised by all these new problems (pandemics to extreme weather disastrous) that come back at us. Actions do have consequences. Is it time to change this story?
Maybe we could start with expanding our love of taking photos vs taking a life and help stop the NV Bear Hunt
Bless you for caring