Frozen Lake is a popular stopping point for many hikers on the Sunrise side of Mount Rainier. I was talking with some fellow hikers at this spot in mid-July when a bear suddenly appeared over the rise. She caused quite a stir as she walked calmly near us, unperturbed by the humans gawking and taking cell phone pictures of her.
She was a bear with a purpose, striding along the Wonderland Trail at a fast clip.
I followed her, breaking into a jog at times to keep up. I kept my distance, and if I would have sensed irritation on her part, I would not have followed. But she didn’t seem to care.
I noticed two hikers coming up the trail. They did the correct thing and moved off, shouting “bear!” repeatedly and loudly. Cinnamon Bear moved off the trail but hardly skipped a beat with her long strides.
She finally went off trail over snow, so I stopped the pursuit.
I found out a few weeks later from a ranger that she’s a regular visitor. She’s a Black Bear with reddish-brown fur, which is called a cinnamon bear. I love this term. Prior to my encounter, I thought this only described a gummy candy in the shape of a bear. Cinnamon Bear had cubs in past years, but not this year. It sounds like an every-other-year situation when it comes to young.
I learned another thing – bears like to use our hiking trails. So if you’re alone and not sure if a bear might be around, sing or make noise or wear a bear bell so they know you’re coming. Black Bears are usually not hostile, but you don’t want to surprise a mother with cubs.
I hope to see Cinnamon Bear with new cubs next year. I’ll keep my distance, however, and I probably won’t be following her.