I decided to explore a new way of getting to the river trail from my house today, and it involved what I think of as The Treacherous Trail, a weedy, poison-ivy-infested steep downhill slope at the end of our block that is a sort of slalom run ending in a gravel road with a further descent to a low field on the other side of the road. It got me where I wanted to be, however; and after I walk it a few dozen times the so-called trail may actually be a trail. During the brief distance that I had to be on the main road and crossing a little bridge over the river I noticed so many cigarette butts. What's the deal with people throwing cigarette butts out of car windows or just on the ground? People who would never toss a candy wrapper or a drink cup out of the window maybe think cigarette butts just biodegrade like apple cores so it's fine to throw them on the road. I saw thirty seven of them on the short distance I traveled on the road and bridge. And they hold up really well in all kinds of weather.
The trail was full of people today, including a funny little boy with his dad. The little boy told me that there were no sharks in the water and that I should watch for the creek. There were/are amazingly large, ropey lianas in the woods. They hang from high up in the trees and drape on the ground, really big enough to climb. At a rocky beach along the river I reached down and pulled up a stone that looked like a bunny.
I kept going for a couple of miles, passing a view of my friend Ann's old house, passing a place where I could hear but not see sheep and a rooster. I passed two women, one of whom said to the other "I didn't HAVE those kinds of criticisms of HIM, ya know?" I wished I were following them and not just passing. I kept on going until I came to the big rock formation that has a large monster face graffiti on it; and then I turned around. I had gone about half a mile of the two miles back when a woman came up behind me with a large dog on a leash. Just as we rounded a curve in the path, I heard a loud chuffing sound and then a growl. I looked behind me and saw the dog barking like crazy and a very large bear standing and waving one paw from behind some bushes. It was on a section of hedgerow between an electric fence on a pasture and the trail. The woman and I started walking very slowly away from the bear, headed the same way we had been going, toward the trail head. The dog finally calmed down, and after we rounded a curve and could no longer see the bear, we both started running and ran about a mile till we were close to the trail head. She went on ahead because at that point I spotted some sheep huddled by the fence, and I stopped to draw them.
This is a very quick sketch, more of a gesture drawing. I doubt the bear had any interest in the sheep, but they acted like they knew something was up. They were huddled together, mostly facing into the center of their huddle.
This is only the second bear I've encountered on a trail. Exciting!