Monday Byron and I went hiking in De Soto National Forest in Mississippi to train for our hike to Havasu Falls. There are at least 60 miles of established hiking trails in the forest. Byron and I be-bopped along for about eight miles. Realizing that there is no destination to this trail, it just goes on and on and on over piney hill tops and low valleys cut through with chilly creeks. Little bright aqua dragonfly type bugs with solid black wings flitted about the water surface. Bugs were everywhere, buzzy flies, zooming bees, colorful butterflies. Little slithery things quickly slid off of the path as we came around the corners. We finally decided that we'd better start back before the dark caught us. So over the roads and across the bridges we went.
"Oh, Kristi, what kind of tracks are these?" "Hmm, Not sure. Look at the deep claw marks by the toes. That's a pretty deep track Byron, something heavy made that. Certainly not a hog or deer that's no hoof mark, it's a paw mark. It's almost as big as my boot. Look at the pattern. ....Byron.....I think that's a bear track" Amazingly the tiredness left my body completely and I was entirely re-motivated. Later on as I talked loudly of anything that came to mind to warn Mr. Supposedly timid Black Bear that we are coming down the track because we were downwind of the direction Mr. Bear was heading, right on the trail in the deep sand, more tracks. Sharp tracks. Tracks that wind hadn't softened the edge of, and they were heading right down the same trail we were. More loud talking and much faster walking. My eyes constantly scanned through the tall pine trees looking for Mr. Bear. I kept reminding myself. They're timid Kristi, don't make eye contact they take that as aggression, don't run, give them wide berth.
Mr. Bear probably climbed a tree and watched us make our noisy way through the deserted forest. He didn't greet us this time. Maybe next time. Maybe next time I'll remember to take a picture after my heart quits fluttering.
When I arrived home I looked up black bears in Mississippi. Sure enough there have been bear sightings right in the area where we were. I'm sure this is great news for Mr. Bear.