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I was hiking in the remote and isolated backcountry in central Pennsylvania, an area that is known to be home to tons of massive black bears. Some of them can grow up to 600 pounds! So, I am obviously bear aware as I am hiking around.
And sure enough, just about every day that I was there, I saw a bear.
One day, in particular, I was doing an uphill hike in a dry runoff creekbed. There was rib high brush on both sides of me and there were many rattlesnakes all along this rocky, uphill wash. I almost stepped on rattlesnakes multiple times.
I was watching my feet intently and planning my next step very carefully for this entire section of the hike. Because of this, I was not worried about the surrounding area.
As I made my way higher and higher on the trail. I eventually reached a fork in the road. I went to stand in some shade under a nearby pine tree to get my map out to confirm which direction I needed to go.
I had been hiking in the hot, dry wash all day and needed to cool off for a minute, so I was ecstatic when I saw the shade this tree was producing. As I read my map to make sure I needed to go right and not left in the trail intersection, I hear what sounded like a loud firecracker going off.
The next thing you know, I am getting ambushed with bark, branches, and all kinds of tree parts. There was so much debris from this pine tree raining down on me! Startled and confused, I look up just in time to jump out of the way as a full-sized branch came hurtling down towards me, landing exactly where I was standing seconds before.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, a massive black bear came falling out of the tree right behind the branch. It was bouncing off branches as it was rapidly falling towards me, trying to grab onto anything in sight.
Then, it hits the ground, somehow landing on all fours. At that moment, I found myself staring eye-to-eye with a giant bear that had just fallen about three stories out of the tree I was under.
Luckily, the bear was so scared about the high fall he had just taken that he saw me and immediately ran away. To say the least, it was an eventful day! I then realized I had to watch both my feet for snakes and watch the sky for raining bears.