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Bearanoia or Bare Facts: Surviving Bear Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

Picture this: you're trekking along the picturesque Appalachian Trail, surrounded by lush greenery, when suddenly you freeze in your tracks. Is that a bear? Your heart pounds like a bass drum, and irrational thoughts start flooding your mind. What should you do? Do you run or play dead? Before you turn into a walking bear attractant, let's debunk some myths and reveal the funny facts about avoiding our furry neighbors.


Keri Russell and the Cocaine Bear in Cocaine Bear.Universal 2023

Myth #1: Bears Can Smell Your Peanut Butter Sandwich from a Mile Away Fact: While bears do have an excellent sense of smell, it's highly unlikely they'll sniff out your PB&J sandwich from the next county. However, if you're carrying a bear-sized picnic basket filled with gourmet goodies, they might just pick up the scent.

Myth #2: Wearing a Bear Costume Will Fool Them Fact: Imagine strolling along the trail, dressed in a bear suit, thinking you'll blend in seamlessly with your forest pals. Well, let's just say it might lead to some interesting conversations with fellow hikers, but the bears? They'll see right through your furry facade.

Myth #3: Singing Off-Key Repels Bears Fact: So you think belting out "Baby Shark" at the top of your lungs will send bears running? Sorry to burst your bubble, but bears aren't exactly Simon Cowell's biggest fans. In fact, they might just join in and form an impromptu forest choir, leaving you with a concert critique you won't forget.

Now that we've separated fact from fiction, it's time to get serious about bear safety while enjoying the beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Remember, bears are generally more afraid of you than you are of them. Here are a few tried-and-true tips:

  1. Make Some Noise: Bears prefer their privacy, so let them know you're coming. Sing a tune, recite your favorite Shakespearean monologue, or simply yell, "Hey bear, I come in peace!" It's all about establishing good neighborly relations.

  2. Proper Food Storage: While bears may not snatch your sandwich from a mile away, they're still attracted to the tantalizing aroma of your trail snacks. Store your food properly, either in bear-resistant canisters or by hanging it from a tree. Just don't mistake your fellow hikers' breakfast bars for piñatas! And be sure to read up on requirements for bear canisters!

  3. Keep Your Distance: If you spot a bear, resist the urge to cozy up for a selfie. Maintain a safe distance, preferably 50 yards or more, and give them their space. Remember, it's not a petting zoo.

  4. Don't Run: Black bears can sprint up to 35 miles per hour. Meanwhile, the average human? Well, let's just say our Olympic-level sprinting abilities are more like a leisurely jog compared to those turbocharged bears. So, you take off like a gazelle, your heart pounding faster than a hummingbird's wings, but what's this? The black bear is closing the gap with ease. You start to question your life choices, wondering why you didn't spend more time at the gym or join a track team. As you feel the bear's breath on your neck, you finally realize that maybe, just maybe, running from a black bear wasn't the brightest idea.

Encountering bears is a year round possibility in the wilds of Georgia. You might expect bears to be snoozing away in cozy dens during the winter months. But guess what? In a hilarious twist, some bears in Georgia have apparently taken up a new hobby: defying the norms of hibernation! That's right, while their bear buddies in colder regions are catching up on their beauty sleep, these rebellious Georgia bears are wide awake and ready to party. Perhaps they've got a secret stash of extra honey hidden away, or maybe they just can't resist the allure of a late-night moonlit stroll. Whatever the reason, these non-hibernating bears in Georgia are definitely keeping things interesting and proving that when it comes to bears, you can expect the unexpected. So always be prepared.

Speaking of cozy dens, if you find yourself in the vicinity of Blairsville, Georgia, near the Neels Gap to Unicoi Gap section of the Appalachian Trail, look no further than the Misty Mountain Inn & Cabins. We are a one-stop destination for hiker hospitality, from comfy hostels to snug cabin rentals and a full-service bed & breakfast. And yes, we have bears for neighbors, but don't worry, the bears don't book rooms!

So, embrace the adventure, debunk the myths, and remember that while bears may be awe-inspiring creatures, with a little common sense and humor, you can peacefully coexist on the Appalachian Trail or anywhere else you may encounter a bear. Happy trails and may your encounters with bears be as rare as spotting Bigfoot wearing a tutu!

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