Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Bugs and the Bears

If you have been anywhere remote while photographing or doing anything for that matter, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin or the Upper Penisula (UP) of Michigan you are guaranteed to run into the bugs and highly likely to see or encounter some bears.

Golden Shores at Miner's Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, USA

As for the bugs, June is probably the worst time to be in the UP as it is black fly season up there and they sting badly when they bite you.  Just to give you an idea of how bad they can be imagine a yellow canoe turned almost completely black by them flocking to the canoe.  As for the mosquitos, well they don't have a river named after them for nothing.  With the combination of the flies and mosquitos, you can see why I usually photograph during April and early May or mid-autumn.

As for the bears, I have never seen one in the wild with my eyes, but have had a very close encounter.  Let me explain.  This encounter happened while backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains.  My friend and I just finished a 22-mile hike and we were setting up camp for the night.  We had dinner, and then called it an early night and went to sleep.  About a half-hour

Single Leaf on Rock, Dave's Falls, Crivitz, Wisconsin, USA

after going to bed, I just some strange noises outside.  It sounded like something approaching and it was definitely an animal.  As it got closer, I could hear a low rumbling breath.  At this point, due to the fact that my hiking poles were in my tent vestibule and outside the screen, I had nothing at the ready to fight off the bear in case it came into my tent.  Luckily, it just breathed and sniffed outside my tent for about a minute and then left.  If we didn't hang our food and scented personal items it might have been a different story.  The next day confirmed that many bears are in the area where we camped.   On our way out we passed a marshy area that was literally covered with bears tracks everywhere.  The bugs were so bad that we nearly had to run through the area to avoid them.  Needless to say, I didn't snap a picture of the tracks.