My wife and I recently returned from the mountains of Tennessee where we climbed Mount Leconte. We were spending the night in a lodge atop the mountain that could only be reached by hiking one of the five trails that lead to the summit. My wife and I chose one of the medium length trails with a length of six and a half miles and a climb of 3300 feet.

About four hours into our hike, my wife and I took a rest, her lying on a convenient rock and I stretched out with my head on my pack. The rest was scheduled to be ten minutes, to allow our weak and tired bodies to have some solace from the endless climb. About eight minutes into the rest, I decided we had rested enough and got to my feet. As I reached back to get my pack, I looked up the trail.

That is when I saw the bear.

He was a full grown black bear about 100 feet up the trail from where we were resting. He was coming down the trail, but stopped when he saw me.

My wife had not seen the bear at this point, so I said the only thing one can say at that point.


My wife, who doesn't have much experience with hiking, looked up the trail at this newcomer to our party and asked the obvious question, "What do we do?"

My reply: "Take a picture."

Epilogue: We and the bear parted company soon after. The bear decided that the woods above the trail looked good to him and ambled up into the brush to watch us pass, which we did unmolested. But we did get a couple of decent pictures.