It is around 7:30 am on a typical Monday. I am driving patiently down a curvy dirt road. My two dogs extend their heads out separate rear windows. They are catching their breathe from our morning stroll in the woods. Up a head, just past the next twist, I see what looks like
a cow standing on the side of the road. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing to see a cow in this stretch of the mountain. Though it would put her at least two miles from home. Just as I enter the curve the cow appears to be still. “How did she get so far from home?” I ask myself. As I come out of the bend I notice that she is now running. “Running?!” On instinct I gun my little Jeep Patriot. “Oh my…it’s a bear and I am clocking her at 26 mph!” It makes no sense to me because the road hugs the north side of the slope and just off the road is deep thick forest. The bear would be instantly camouflaged if she moved three feet into the woods. In a cinnamon flash she launches herself down into the green growth of nature. I over shoot where she disappears, come to a complete stop and run to the border of the north side of the road. I hear her not far from me breaking branches as she proceeds down the slope and back tracks. I stand quiet listening to her advance. She wanted me to see her. There is no doubt that she knows the ways of these woods. At 7:30am there is enough traffic to know to keep a routine that stays clear of the road. I breathe in, and then out while sending her my thought, “Did you want me to see you?” The sound of her powerful footsteps stop. I hear her thoughts in my head, “Yes, there have been hunters. They track us. They have been traveling up from the base of the mountain. Can you stop them? I ran because when I saw you I got scared.” I gasp at the fright of hunters in these woods and reply, “I am so sorry. I will try to spread the word. But I can not promise that they will stop.” And then I told her of the safe properties I know of and how people have posted NO HUNTING signs there. She thanks me. The resonance of branches breaking resumes as she moves back in the direction we came from. I look down at where I am standing and see baby bear tracks. Spontaneously, I realize she had a cub with her. She must of left the cub in the forest of oaks and ferns by the twist in the road.
I get back into my jeep. My dogs are now both leaning towards me in the narrow space between the front seats. They are somber and want to cuddle. In their youth, we frequently hiked the Appalachian Trail. During hunting season they wore bright orange reflective vests and collars so that no one would mistake them for a coyote, deer, or bear. The sound of successive popping noises would startle them until they would remember that they were not among the hunted.
Though I am told that it is not presently bear hunting season in Ventura County, I urge you to post NO HUNTING signs around your property. I am sure that the inhabitants of Sulphur Mountain or any other part of the wilderness would greatly appreciate this act.
SULPHUR MOUNTAIN CUBS