As we walked up to the Skyline trailhead information board, we noticed a "Brown bear in area" sign posted, dated June 6th. "Uh, oh," I said, "time to get out the bear bell." I dug in the backpack and velcroed the bear bell onto my pack while my daughter snorted her derision. We'd never seen a bear on this trail, nor even bear scat in all the times we'd hiked it. Twenty or thirty minutes later as I was climbing along, I heard the girls chattering excitedly and heading towards me. My first thought: bear! What else could get them to turn around and practically run down the trail, far from the summit?
Apparently Aurora, who was in the lead, thought the bear was a dog at first. The black bear was heading down the trail and she was heading up and they were about 10 feet away before they noticed each other. The bear immediately melted off into the brush and Aurora and her friend immediately got out of there as fast as possible. When I asked if they got a picture they laughed and said, "Uh, we weren't really thinking about anything except, 'Bear. Get out of here!'" so my apologies to my readers for no picture!
The bear was small enough the girls figured it probably had a momma nearby, so rather than just keep going (which is my natural inclination), we opted to head down and find another trail to hike. Too bad because the Skyline was in better shape than I've ever seen it, with so little rain this summer.
|View of Skilak Lake from Bear Mountain trail.|
|Another view from the top of Bear Mountain, looking towards the Upper Skilak Lake Campground|
This trail is not in the shade so it would have been hot had the sun been out. What this trail offers, though, that Bear Mountain does not, is the feel of being in a mountain meadow. There were fields of fireweed (of course!) and views of Skilak Lake and the surrounding area much of the way up so those huffing and puffing breaks can be enjoyable scanning the Kenai River, Skilak Lake, nearby peaks and weather, not that I got many breaks at my daughter's focused pace.
Once we got to the top we were a bit sweaty and had to pull out jackets to stay comfortable. There's a nice rock to lounge on and enjoy the sights. After a little snack we jogged down this trail as well, which is easy enough to do with few loose gravel or rocky spots.
|View from partway up Hideout Trail|
|View from the top of the Hideout Trail. The ribbon of river is the Kenai before it empties into Skilak Lake.|