Episode 2 Video The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland video is on the very popular Summerland Trail on the Wonderland system. You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 2 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.
Video Synopsis: Still boasting the ziplock plastic bags in her shoes, Lisa contemplates returning them to Carrie. Upon summiting at Summerland camp it is found the camp had recently been ransacked by a bear. Runtime 6:40
We wake up to gorgeous weather at Tamanos Camp and decide on taking a popular trail on the Wonderland for a day hike. Earlier during our planning Summerland Camp and Indian Bar Camps were both full and we could not make arrangements to backpack through both of these beautiful areas. A recent sign, posted, boot prints and a single track of something being dragged across the ground is all that remains of evidence to a scary day to campers who had camped there a few days prior.
The story from the other campers was, campsite #2 was occupied at Summerland. During lunch a bear walked into campsite two, snatched a backpack out of the possession of a camper and dragged it and commandeering the bag and contents.
After crossing Frying Pan Creek, having lunch on the rocks and taking a brief moment to catch a few golden rays of sunshine, we were met with a spectacle of wildflowers. Everything from Lupine, Columbia Tiger Lily, Columbine, Magenta and Orange Indian Paint Brush, Pearly Everlasting blooming all at once. In the background the lovely scents were married with the mountain as if standing so proud of her work.
The trail up to Summerland is a sought after day hiking spot, especially on a weekend in summer. It starts from lush, green forests, on a wide forgiving pine needle filled path that is easy on the knees. Later it switches back and forth as Frying Pan Creek cascades and falls over the rocky face of the hill. From it’s crossing you catch a glimpse of Rainier, here and there along with wildflowers that forever fill the hillside all summer.
When we a arrived to take a walk through camp, we found a posh pit toilet, and high end, solidly constructed rock walled group site. I’ve been here many times with the chipmunks and marmots looking for a handout. I spotted one lazy marmot hiding from the heat under a tree.
Which is probably how the bear came to be.
In essence I feel sorry for the bear. People feed the chipmunks, they are aggressive when you sit for a split nano second. They jump all over your bag, and hop inside if you walk away to peak over the hill. The marmots take their share too.
So why not the bear?
Just there for his share of take-out.
Most, if not all of Rainier’s backcountry camps, have bear poles. We never leave any of our food unattended. Ever.
It goes without saying Rainier’s bears are generally mild and do not aggressively take food away from humans but this bear decided it would go about his business differently. That’s when the rangers started putting up signs, checking in with hikers, and doing what they call mitigation to scare it away.
We didn’t ask for details what mitigation was, air horn, rocks, yelling, we were just more concerned there was still that particular bear there.
After filtering some water for the trip down, we take in a snack on a nice warm rock.
More About Bears
The grizzly bear is said to be a part of the cascade wilderness area according to North American Bear Center
According to The North Cascade Institute for Environmental Learning in 1860 there were approximately 1000 grizzly bears in the North Cascades of Washington State. That number soon declined to approximately 650.
Human attacks can happen and can be extremely dangerous. The most recent being in Montana in 2021 where the grizzly was protecting its food a moose near by. Most attacks are by females protecting their young.
The second largest removal of the grizzly population happened when prospectors came to the North Cascades in search of gold. The number declined another 200.
Finally with open grazing and the final push out west the last one was located in 1967 in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of Washington State.
The last confirmed tracks in mud were located in the North Cascades in 1996 and in Canada in 2010.
The following Native American story was used to tell about the grizzly bear. It is symbolic with hot rocks being shots and the coyote being an animal that is a trickster, perhaps man.
Chances are if you hike long enough you’ll encounter a black bear in Washington State. It is estimated there are between 25,000 to 30,000 black bears.
They range in color between a cinnamon brown to black.
Black bears can startle you because of their quiet demeanor and large size but are in general not harmful.
The biggest misconception according to American Bear Center is females are dangerous if their young is present or you get between them. The centers best advice is speak calmly and back away slowly. If a bear becomes nervous it will “bluster” and really it is trying to communicate it is nervous and has a problem with you. None of the bears I’ve encountered at Mt. Rainier have ever shown a sign of being bothered with me.
Startled black bears often run up a tree so if you are bothered by them, your best bet is just to walk on by and continue to talk calmly.