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Hilton Lakes Backpack Trip & Bear Encounter

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Location: High Desert

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:53 am    Post subject: Hilton Lakes Backpack Trip & Bear Encounter  Reply with quote

"I haven't seen a bear for awhile, so I'm overdue for an encounter," I told Albert and Debra on Thursday night at Rock Creek Lake Campground.  On Friday night a Mamma bear and cub came within 40 feet of my tent at Hilton Lake #2.  I had just retired for the evening when I heard a thump and a baby bear cry out.  I've never gotten out of my tent quicker in my life!  I yelled at Albert and he got out of his tent and we started shouting at the two bears.  They didn't seem scared of us at all but backed away then headed towards our bear canisters which we'd stashed about 200 feet from our tents.  Then we watched as Mamma bear tried every conceivable method to get into the cans!  She threw them on the ground with a very loud bang that must've been heard for a mile in every direction.  She banged them on a log, and the baby bear seemed to be imitating Mamma because it to was leaning all its weight on the log and rocking back and forth.  She picked the canisters up in her paws and rolled on her back chewing on the edge of the lids.  After about 20 minutes of trying they finally moseyed away.  We waited another 20 minutes then cautiously approached the canisters to check out the damages.  Well, Albert's canister was about 15 feet from its original location.  Mine was a few feet away.  Both were a little dinged and dirty but otherwise intact.  We went ahead and moved them another 200 feet away and had a fitful night's sleep!

On Saturday we didn't see or hear any signs of the bears, so we had ourselves a nice dayhike up to Lakes 3 & 5 and had a better night's rest.  But on Sunday morning I was awoken to the sound of campers near us yelling at the bears and the baby bear crying out for a solid minute.  I figure she must've gotten separated from her Mom to keep crying out for so long.  Needless to say we decided that we'd had enough bear excitement and started to pack and left a couple of hours earlier than planned.

Even though I was nervous and didn't get much rest, especially right after seeing the bears on Friday evening, I was very excited to see them.  They were a beautiful shade of honey brown and appeared very healthy and happy.  Watching Mamma play with our canisters was incredible.   She appeared very cub-like and playful with them.  I'm glad they held up. Albert's is the newest Bear Vault model, while mine is the oldest with the retrofitted lid.  Unfortunately I didn't get very good photos of the bears, because I'd forgotten my SD card for my camera - so I had only my cell phone on this trip.  It takes decent photos when the light is bright, but terrible when it is dim.

Overall it was a good weekend - Hilton Lakes are in a beautiful basin surrounded by granite peaks to the west of Rock Creek.  The hike to get to Lake #2 is about 6 miles, so combined with dayhikes to Lakes 3, 5, and Davis Lake (twice) we did about 20 miles.  The lower 4 lakes have many great campsites.  Davis Lake in particular had so many sites all around its shoreline that it would be hard not to have privacy if that's what you want.  

In between the lakes are tumbling streams and waterfalls lined with wildflowers.  We saw leopard lilies, ranger's buttons, monk's hood, lupine, paintbrush, elephant heads, phlox, aster, shooting stars, corn lilies, skyrocket gilia, and many others.  We timed our trip right to catch some flowers, but after the majority of the mosquitoes had already left.

Debra had planned to hike with us, but she had to bail out Friday morning because she wasn't feeling well.  So my trusty hiking partner Albert was my company for this trip.  He's one of the best hiking partners, he never complains, he's helpful and has a great sense of humor, and when he's along on a trip we usually have good luck seeing animals.  This time the luck overran us lol

pics here Smile

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Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Location: Florida East Coast

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:35 am    Post subject: Hilton Lakes Reply with quote

I want to go to this area next year.  Beautiful pictures.  Thank you.
"It is our task in our time and in our generation, to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours."

President John F. Kennedy
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Location: Aliso Viejo

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story and scary encounter.  That mamma bear looks BiG!  Thanks for sharing the story and pictures.
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