By Rose Oliver, GBOP North Cascades
The mountain huckleberries are just starting to ripen in the alpine elevations of the North Cascades and the hiking conditions are perfect. It’s time to put on those hiking boots and check out what the Cascades have to offer. But it’s also time to make sure you are up to date on your Bear Aware tips: http://westernwildlife.org/black-bears/tips-for-coexistence/. The main point to remember when observing feeding bears is to give them lots of room and don’t come upon them by surprise.
Delicious ripe mountain huckleberries attract hungry bears to the beautiful alpine meadows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy those succulent morsels too. Keep an eye out for bear signs, like scat and overturned rocks or logs, and if you come across them, check them out: if the scat is fresh or the grass under the overturned rock is green and springy the bear might be close by.
Remember to make a lot of noise when you come to a bend in the trail, as you never want to surprise a bear. Also, keep your dog on a leash at all times, as an unleashed dog can inadvertently bring a bear back to their owner. And, if you do encounter a bear on the trail, here are some tips: http://westernwildlife.org/bear-safety/ to help you stay safe.
More often than not, the experience of seeing a bear grazing in an alpine meadow is one of the greatest thrills of hiking; just give the bear space to enjoy his lunch too. We all know how delicious those mountain huckleberries can be!