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Frightened Yet Excited! The Day I Came Face to Face with My First Bear

In June 2013, my family and I took a vacation to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Little did we realize what was waiting around the corner for us on this fateful day.

Shenandoah is an outdoor lover’s paradise rich in breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife, and enough lore to keep the history buffs engaged for days. But what made it memorable for my family happened one-morning driving through Skyline Drive.

It was a warm summer, and every mile provided a beauty of nature the soul never tires of. Birds were singing, deer crossed our paths, and the air had just enough breeze to allow for our open windows and sunroof.

We were taking it all in as we drove along Skyline Drive. To our right, as we ascended the parkway, a stone wall dating back to the early 1930s when the park was under construction by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It not only provided a barrier for safety from the sudden drops below, but it provided much more.

As we came around a bend, we gasped! I am not sure who was first or exactly what we said. All I remember is feeling my heart beating with wild excitement and my arms pointing and poking my family to make sure we all saw her.

There, sitting like she just knew she belonged there, was a black bear. She looked straight at us and before we could grab a camera; she disappeared over the wall.

We were all extremely disappointed our first meeting was so brief.

But we quickly realized there was a movement behind the wall. A few saplings started swaying and suddenly, not one, not two, but three bear cubs climbed the tree behind the wall and then just stared at us.

It was perfect. 

My daughter took a few pictures, but mostly we just sat there quietly watching these amazing creatures do what they do best, live in harmony with nature.

For more information, please visit Shenandoah National Park

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