A nice day for a walk
It was such a beautiful day. Therefore, I decided to take Sophie for a good long walk. We walked down the path from the camp and turned left on the dirt road called Burketown Road. Our camp was near the end of this road which circled around to the right, connecting the three parallel roads that ran from Burke’s Marina and Raquette Lake into the area where all the privately-owned camps were built. As you approached the last of these three roads, an old logging road turned off to the left, making its way deep into the dark woods of the Adirondack Park.
I have walked up this road many times while growing up. Sometimes with parents, sometimes with grandparents, and sometimes with cousins. I am sure my brother, Dan, and I walked up it many times as well. As kids, we would not walk to far into those woods. They were very wild and rugged, and really kind of scary. We did not want to get lost. There was an old camper abandoned back in a good way. That was usually as far as we would go.
The abandoned ski slope
I do remember once, when I was very young, walking back on that road to an old abandoned ski slope. I believe my grandfather and grandmother, my mother, and Dan were on that particular hike. If I remember correctly, Fred Burke or maybe his father, had started a ski slope back in there before the Adirondack Park was officially formed and it had to be abandoned. I have dim memories of the old slope, the remains of a tow rope and its equipment, and an old building that had served as a ski lodge. The roof had already fallen in on the building. But, it has been a long time and memories may have dimmed.
I thought Sophie and I could walk back and see what remained of that old ski slope. I assumed there would not be much. The north woods have a way of slowly reclaiming anything that is not constantly kept up and maintained. As a result, I figured the signs of the old ski slope might be about gone by now.
Taking a break at the old camper
Sophie and I started up the road into the woods. It is damp in the Adirondacks and the old logging road alternated between shady, muddy patches and grassy stretches. Often, both sides of the old road were lined with raspberry bushes. Many smaller trees were growing in the old road bed. Sophie was having a ball, her nose was constantly working, checking out all the new and exciting smells. We reached the old abandoned camper and stopped for a short rest. It was then that I noticed Sophie was acting a little strange. She definitely did not like something.
“Sophie, what’s the matter? Comehere girl,” I called.
Sophie came right up to me. I had taken her leash off once we were in the woods. I am not sure why, but at that moment I put the leash back on her. This was probably a good thing. When I looked up the road in the direction that led to the old ski slope, I saw a black bear step out onto the road. It stood there, quietly looking at us.
Sophie meets the bears
Suddenly there was another movement just off the road to the bears right. A small black bear head poked up out of some raspberry bushes. Then, there was a second bear head. Two bear cubs were peering curiously out at Sophie and me from within the raspberry bushes. The mother bear, however, was watching Sophie and me very intently. This was not good. The mother bear “woofed” and began stomping the ground with her front paws. This was even worse. This is a warning sign from the bear! Leave or else!
Sophie was standing stock still, staring fixedly at the mother bear in the road. I was willing her not to bark. I knew her instinct would be to protect me. However, in this case, that might not be so good. I did not not want her to provoke the mother bear into charging
“Sophie, easy!” I whispered. “Sophie, come! Come!” I began to back up slowly, pulling Sophie with me. She backed up with me. However, she would not take her eyes off the mother bear. Sophie’s ears were at full attention and every muscle in her body was quivering.
We backed slowly down the road in the direction from which we had just come, both of us keeping a very watchful eye on the mother bear. Fortunately, the mother bear just stood there, but still watching us closely. She did not charge. We were leaving.
Once we got around the first bend in the road, I turned and led Sophie out of there at a quick pace. Both of our heartbeats slowly returned to a normal rate and I figured this was enough excitement for one walk. In addition, I also decided the old ski slope would have to get along without another visit from me!
Adirondack Bear Tales Collection
I have been busy compiling my Adirondack Bear Tales into a book format which will soon be out in eBook and paperback format. If you enjoyed this story, you might want to check out the collection. In the meantime, you can also check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot. If you like military action thrillers, it will be right down your alley!
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