So, Monday I left my house to go camping at Allegheny National Forest (see context map below). It's about a three hour drive directly north from where I live. I had planned to be there for three nights. There's a huge lake and stuff...I had the canoe, as well as standard hiking/camping paraphernalia. I got a late start from the house, didn't leave until 2 pm and thus did not arrive on site till about 5:30. Because sunset around here is currently 8:45 pm, I figured that the only thing I could do for the first day--getting out late and all--would be to hike the 3.8 mile trail to one of the primitive campsites that the forest has set up. I should have just pitched tent anywhere close to my truck, but I wanted to do the hike to be near water at the start of my next day. See, the campsite was right next to one of the fishing lakes and only accessible via hiking trail. I gave myself three hours for the hike, which would normally be plenty of time except that I was carrying a tent, sleeping bags, and seventy-five pound rucksack. I was also pushing my bike; I started off riding it, but the trail soon turned into one of the hardest hikes I've ever been on: boulders and streams everywhere, all up and down mountain. Needless to say, I was soon making bad time on account of all my gear and the rough terrain. The sun was setting fast between the mountains. I kept going because I saw no worthy spots to pitch tent close to the trail (I did not want to veer off the trail because night was coming on. So anyway, I kept pushing on, tired as shit, taking periodic drinking breaks. I did about 2.25 miles when I got to a section of the trail that shot straight up mountain. Sixty degrees. For the past half mile, I was hiking in a low valley ravine between two mountain ridges. (Note: the map below does not depict elevation contours, but basically there was an apex at where it says ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMorrison Trail LoopÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and another one at ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œRimrock Trail Loop.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â The trail ran between the two mountains and all over them) There were a few downed Spruce at the bottom of the trail where I currently was, so I tied my bike up and took a rest on a log. There was no way I was getting the bike to the campsite with the little amount of sunlight I had left; at this point it was around 7:20 pm. I figured that IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d head back for it in the morning. I would continue on with just my rucksack, sleeping bags, and tent. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m sitting there about five minutes when I hear something coming down the mountain, walking directly on the trail, snapping twigs and rustling leaves. Obviously I stopped what I was doing to just watch and listen where the noises were coming from. Suddenly I see two creatures on all fours, about 30-40 yards away from me, black legs and walking leisurely downhill. Soon as I saw them, I knew they were black bears but the optimism in me kept telling me for about thirty seconds until I saw their heads that they might be a pair of campers. The bears were at the top of the mountain coming down steadily and I was at the very lowest point, in their direct path. Not a good thing. There were two of them, a bigger bear that weighed, in my guess, maybe 400 pounds, and a smaller one about half the size. Now, I didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t stick around long enough to determine the sexes but there are two possible outcomes. Either they were a mother Black Bear and her cub, anywhere from 4 mounts old to 1.5 years,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âin which case the female will aggressively defend her child against all threats. Or else it was a male and female. Mating season in the northeast is late June-early August, and this is the only time that males and females will travel together. Also if this were the case, the male is very aggressive because heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s all sexed up. Either way, whenever you see two Black Bears in a nationally-protected forest, it is never a happy time. Immediately I backed up from my downed tree a good distance so that I was not on the trail and I crouched in between some boulders. I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t think they had seen me yet, so I just watched the bears for 2 or 3 minutes. They were just walking around, picking at grass and shit. The closest they got to me was within thirty yards. I could only see their legs (the forest was thick), and basically thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s all that I watched. I wanted to see if the bears would leave the area so that I could retrieve my equipment from the trail and continue on to the campsite, now only 1 mile away. After a bit, they were out of my sight. I crept from my boulders near my backpack/tent/bags, when I heard some snorts and saw one of the bears emerge from the top of the ridge. It was the smaller of the two, staring right at me. I quickly backed up along the trail, maintaining eye contact and talking to the bear, until I could no longer see it. Then I bolted. Ran flat out for half a mile back towards the parking area. I sprinted, jumping rocks and streams, until I physically could not run anymore. Keep in mind that if I wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t so lucky, the bears could easily have outran, outclumb, or outswam me, so in retrospect I really donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t know why I exerted so much energy. I guess it was just an instinctual thing to get out of danger. By the time I stopped sprinting, it was 7:40 and nearly pitch black outside. I just stayed on the trail, moving quickly as I could (this time without loads of equipment), back to the truck. It was some scary shit. The whole time I had to keep checking the trail behind me, making sure I wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t being stalked, but also scan the area ahead of me to keep an eye out for other bears. I got back to my vehicle at 8:45 pm. It was completely night outside, not a light of sun anywhere in the sky. I made a couple phone calls home, then slept in the truck for the night, in the parking lot. I only got about four hours of sleep, had eaten nothing that day except for one KFC chicken strip, and then woke up at 6:30 am, first sunlight. So hereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the situation in the morning: all of my equipment, some $200 worth of outdoor stuff and a $350 Schwinn were still in the woods in the middle of Black Bear Country (as the trailhead signs that I missed the night before so aptly informed me this morning). I drove down the road 6 miles to the nearest ranger station because youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re supposed to report all bear sightings. I got there around 7:30 am. I was going to say something like, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œYeah, I ran into a duo of Black Bears last night. My backpack is full of Kielbasa and bread. There are other people at the campsite one mile away from the sighting. How do I retrieve my shit?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â I was hoping that a ranger would escort me back down the hiking trail, preferably with a sidearm. There was a white paper sign on the station doors: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œClosed Tuesday August 14th until 1 pm.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Normally the place opens at 8am. There was no way that I was sitting around in my truck for five hours while my shit was sitting in the middle of the forest, able to be ravaged by any wildlife and/or humanlife that walked past. So I set back into the woods, pretty shook up, going slowly and steadily, making noise the whole time with a soup can and some quarters to alert all animals of my presence. At one point I spotted a gigantic White Tail Deer and got jerked by that, but there were no other sightings or hearings of animals. I finally got to my equipment, scanned the area to make sure nothing was around, then turned around and headed back out. Nothing had gotten into my stuff. I was surprised because like I said, I had kielbasa, chicken, water, and snacks in the backpack. Everything was undisturbed. I think that the bears were just as frightened to see me as I was to see them, so the likely scenario is that they ran the opposite direction from me as I was moving back to the parking lot. Black bears (unlike Brown Bears/Kodiaks/Polars) are supposed to be very timid and shy. All in all it took me 3.5 hours to get in and out that morning. Got to the truck, drove home (there was no urge to stay camping for another two days after that incident), and ate like a horse because I still hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t eaten anything except that chicken strip the afternoon before.