I just split a mama bear from her cub
May 14th, 2012 by Agent Kevin Miller
True story, happened about 20 minutes ago.
The Big Fear Happened.
I’m working at my friend Scott Stearman’s cabin down in Green Mountain Falls, CO. I spend my days writing and creating and barely moving, with my pulse sitting below 50 beats per minute and my butt getting sore. I try to help things by going for runs. So today I hit the steep trails on the side of town for a quick 25 minute jaunt. Coming around a bend and leaping over a rock, a dog runs past me down the hill. No surprise, there are often people on the trail. I glance up the ridge to see the expected owner, and there sits mama bear. A quick glance back down and I see the ‘dog’ is the cub. I pause for a split second, glance up where mama hasn’t moved yet, and bolt downhill. It’s really steep and boulder strewn. A moment more and on my right is a big tree and a huge scuffle and baby bear is clawing up it. Crap! It had doubled back on me. Now I’m waiting for the thunder of mama to sound. Nothing, and I catch a trail down into the neighborhood and haul butt.
I share this because a couple weeks ago on the same trail, I veered too far left and if not for a tree to grab, I’d have fallen down the steep hillside. No impending death, but it would have been hurt. But as I kept down the trail, I thought…would I have fallen if not for the tree, or did I feel free to push the limit cause the tree was there?
Same with this bear encounter. Our recent new friend Joseph Chirlee from Kenya (he is our new U.S.A. 25k champion!) would not go run the trails by our house two weeks ago cause of his intense fear of bear. He’s from Africa…lions and snakes, go figure. So what happened with me just a bit ago?
- Myth? Is the whole thing about getting between a mama bear and her cub a myth? They don’t really care? Doubtful…
- Superman? Am I just that imposing of a speciman of a man that no bear would dare risk an encounter with me? I wish, but doubtful with my 6′, 155lb stature…
- Downhill? Is it true that bear can’t run downhill cause their front legs are short, so my tactic and running prowess saved me? That IS literally a myth…
- God? Do I have a protective hedge around me cause God has a plan and it didn’t include getting mauled by a bear today? Could be, but…
- Humans? Maybe bear have just learned that humans are the ones to fear? Just like the elk that I often chase who could mow me down like a twig fi they wanted, but scamper away like scared mice?
I do know that nobody in this county can recall the last time a bear actually hurt a human. Zero. Nada. There are only 23 reports of bear/human interaction in the entire state of Colorado since 1998. That’s just over 1.5 per year in a state with tons of people out on trails every day of the year.
Yet there are scores of folks who come here and even live here with fear of ‘bear attack’ out on the trail, and stay away from hiking much, or alone. Meanwhile, who knows how many miles I’ve run alone on the Rocky Mountain trails. Plenty of guys I know dig going out in remote areas and solo camping. They might have their food stolen at night by a bear, but that’s about the worst of it.
What’s the point? In pursuing our purpose and drastically altering the trajectory of our lives, FEARS keep people down. And here is the deal:
What you fear…probably WILL happen!
- You will have some financial struggle along the way, maybe intense!
- You will have some relational struggles, with your spouse or friends and family.
- You will suffer the disdain, ridicule or disapproval from various people.
- You will lose sleep to worries and anxieties.
- You will work harder than you expected, or even fathomed.
- You will miss the mark in your endeavor and have to adjust. Some call it failure, the rest of us call it a normal part of progress…
- You will go out on the trail alone and come between a mama bear and a cub.
The deal is, what you fear, isn’t so horrible.
That’s just it. No pithy quote. You’ll just deal with it, get through it. You’ll survive. The tragedy is when we don’t go forward because we fear the worst instead of just expecting it and saying “The worst is a price I’m willing to pay for the sake of what I believe to be the best.”
When I sit around with my fellow free agents we share war stories. Not with pride, but with gratefulness. It makes where we are sweeter. And honestly, it does feel a bit valiant. If it was easy, well…it wouldn’t be that valuable! And I see these same people continue taking on bears in their life, more and more. Cause they now expect the bear and are OK with it.
What’s far worse is staying indoors with the door locked.
So picture what you fear. Make peace with it and go forth.
*Photo – bear in our backyard May 2011
If you’d rather hear the show where I expanded on this topic: