The days are becoming more brisk, more fall-like. As the summer pushes towards its last moments the rush of ripe fruit arrives. Sweet smelling and practically dripping from its bush. With the fruit comes the bears. Bears move by season and available food source. So while I am always cautious of bears in the wilderness around me, the places that I hike and camp, I also realize that most bears are in particular landscapes and elevations at certain times of the year. If I pay attention to their needs I am most likely not in their way. Of course there is the “hibernation” period, those long restful periods of winter, when it is unlikely to see them. Those short days of light, and long days of dark when I wish I could crawl into a cave as the snow falls, just as the bears do. But in rest of the year they are moving around looking for the best food source: logs and bugs, left over carnage that is left from a creature not surviving the winter, or losing a battle with another animal, nuts, and the sweetest of all, berries. When the fruit comes into season we have the greatest opportunity to cross paths with a bear or two.
For me, living up a canyon outside of Bozeman surrounded by protected Forest land, such an experience is even greater. The two trails that leave into the mountains from the end of my road provide great cross over with bears and their berries. And when I know it is best to start paying attention to where and when I am hiking on these trails is when I see the large piles of bear poop that start showing up on the road to my house. Which is now. The chokecherry and other berries are ripe along the road and every morning there are more piles left from the bears after they gorge on the berries. The branches of bushes are pulled down and leaning toward from the roadside where the bears are tugging on them. And as they move up the road they are moving up in elevation, which means that they are naturally following the berries as they ripen over the next few weeks.
The last stop before they head up the trails is a treat in my yard. An Apple tree which is heavy with fruits this year. Planted just outside my front door I observe the fruit every time I walk by. This week it is turning from green to shades of red. Small little sweet fruits that will soon be eaten by me, moose and bear. The question is, who will get the most of the fruit.