He Got Injured And Fell On The Ground. Then A Bear Heard His Moans It Did The Unexpected – Legitpost.com.ng
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He Got Injured And Fell On The Ground. Then A Bear Heard His Moans It Did The Unexpected

Trapped alone in the forest and face to face with a black bear, this man was moments away from certain death. But after letting out a desperate moan, the bear did something totally unexpected, leaving Joshua to wake up in an even more puzzling environment.

It began when he slipped on a moist tree branch while walking down a small decline, cutting his way through the thick foliage near Sadis Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. Inching himself closer to danger, only he didn’t know it yet. Joshua Lopez had been hiking for more than six hours and had already spent a night camping. The closest town was around 10 miles away, much too far to be of any help if he ran into trouble.

Although he was an experienced hiker, his rubber sole glanced at the smooth jagged surface, sending Joshua backward before jerking him forwards down a hill, tumbling down before rolling to a stop in the middle of a bush, groaning in pain. He wriggled around, thankful that his body appeared to be working, yet unaware of the experience he was about to have with a bear that would change his mind forever.

But once he tried to get to his feet, Joshua realized where he had been injured. Something in his ankle had been hurt, leaving him limping through the forest. Remembering how far he was from the nearest town, things went from bad to worse when he slipped a second time, this time catapulting forward a dozen feet and sliding flat on his face while in excruciating pain.

Joshua forgot the park is home to an estimated bear population of 1500 bears. Thinking no one would hear him for miles, Joshua erupted into a roar of pain, which soon settled down into moans of agony.

But not far away, his cries were definitely heard. A black bear’s ears were perking up; it had sensed something encroaching on its hunting ground, and soon it was on the move, circling in on Joshua who was helplessly crawling along the ground, trying to bring himself into a sitting position.

He could feel that it was going to need a miracle to make it out alive. Before he saw the bear come into focus, he heard some rustling in the bushes. It was clear that something big was behind there, and it didn’t take long for the reality to dawn on Joshua. The figure lurking around him was a bear. He arched his neck and looked almost directly up at the bear, which was looking down on what could be his next meal.

His thick black fur covered a more than 200-pound frame capable of biting or crushing a man to death in seconds. The razor-sharp claws protruding from its paw could take a person out with a single swipe. Joshua knew all this; his father had taught him all about bears when they would hunt together.

He would say, “Josh, never forget the number one rule about bears: It’s them or us.” He heard his dad’s stern words echoing through his head while he locked eyes with the bear, and he felt as though his fate was sealed.

Suddenly, he remembered the hunting knife that he carried in a pouch slung around his neck and reached for it. He was able to unzip the bag and began fishing around for his knife. In his weakened state, even the bear’s approaching loud roars weren’t giving him enough adrenaline. Time was running out.

He felt the edge of the knife, which was still tucked in position, and his hand gripped loosely around the handle. In his mind, he was preparing to flail it high into the air in the bear’s direction. But before he could even get it out of his pouch, Joshua fainted, partly from exhaustion and partly from pure fear.

He was sure that he had died. In the brief moments of fuzzy awareness, Joshua remembered the bear’s heated breath close to his face, thinking that this must be how everyone who ever died at the hands of a bear must have felt.

But the next thing he knew, he was getting foggy flashes of an unfamiliar setting. It took a few seconds, but he could slowly make out the wooden interior of the room and then some furniture. Joshua soon realized that he was inside some kind of cabin.

“Bear!” he yelled as he saw the same black bear walking through the door. He jumped to his feet and grabbed the chair next to his bed, holding the furniture as a shield between him and the seemingly evil-looking bear. Quickly, Josh then realized the bear was followed by a man in a red jacket, greeting Joshua with a huge smile. He asked if there was anything he needed.

Joshua had two questions: where and how. With the bear seated calmly and extremely close to the man, he began to explain what happened to Joshua after he passed out. Believe it or not, he said, Joshua was only safely here because of the bear. After he had lost consciousness, the bear found him and let out loud roars of distress, which alerted this fisherman who was nearby and came to retrieve him.

That led to the next part of the question: how? This wasn’t just any bear; it was the one who had been living with this man for the last decade and had grown into more of a pet than a wild adversary. That’s because this wasn’t any man either. His name was Neil, and he was a former park ranger who had negotiated with the state park to allow him to build a small cabin here and live out the rest of his days.

One day, while foraging for food, he had helped this black bear who himself was in trouble. The animal rescue team had tranquilized him on the edge of the forest, worried that he was coming too close to the walking path. The young bear had wandered back into the thick forest too quickly for the rangers to keep up with him. When they caught up with him, they realized the serious impact of the sedative.

The bear had made his way into a body of water and was fast moving downstream, barely keeping his head above the water. Neil, who was fishing nearby, spotted the bear struggling to tread water, with each stroke becoming weaker and further in between. Its head was slowly disappearing underneath the water, and he knew that it wasn’t coming back up anytime soon. He was drowning.

Neil hesitated for a moment, wondering whether it was a good idea to get that close to a bear, but he threw caution to the wind. He couldn’t watch an animal suffer like this, no matter the danger. With that, he took his shirt off and jumped into the water, darting out with a long stroke to where the bear was bobbing around. Neil made it just in time to catch the bear as it was collapsing, but it still wasn’t limp.

Realizing that something was trying to touch it, the bear threw its body around in sudden jerks. Neil had to duck to avoid the long claws of the bear from swiping his head. Even in such a weakened state, any impact would likely be deadly.

Slowly, the bear’s body relaxed into itself, drifting off to sleep with the cushion of buoyancy to help. Neil was able to carry and push the 200-pound bear through the water all the way to the bank of the lake, where he could only leave it at the edge of the water. But the bear was not going to drown now, and Neil waited a few feet by its side to see if it was still alive.

A few minutes later,the bear slowly became conscious, groaning and growling, rolling around on the muddy bank in a daze before looking over to Neil. At that moment, it seemed to realize what had happened. When Neil saw the bear was fine, he decided to head back to his cabin.

But then something really strange happened, something that Neil had never seen before in all of his former years as a park ranger. He had heard tales of individual bears showing trust towards humans, but never expected he would ever be so lucky to encounter such an animal. That day, the bear followed him all the way back to his cabin, refusing to leave Neil’s side.

In the days that followed, the bear just hung out near Neil’s cabin. When Neil woke up in the morning, he would open his bedroom window to see the bear waiting for him, as if he wanted him to come outside. At first, Neil was a bit cautious as to why the bear behaved out of the ordinary, but then slowly he formed a relationship with the bear. By now, he’d named him Phelps, after the swimmer.

He fed the bear every day, and the animal accompanied him on his fishing trips throughout the park. Sometimes Phelps would even alert him if there was a problem somewhere in the woods, like what had happened on this day.

After all that, Joshua couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It went against all the things his father had told him about bears. His eyes squinted with suspicion, Joshua interrogated the man in an attempt to poke holes in his story. Joshua had grown up around hunters and farmers, but never once heard a story like this. Hesitantly, he thanked the man for his assistance, though he was still confused. Maybe this was all a bad dream, he thought.

But when Neil invited him out to his back porch for a cup of tea, Joshua realized this was no dream. His palms began to sweat as he was thrust face to face again with Phelps, who stood only a few feet away, staring back at him. He looked at the animal up and down—the claws, teeth, and giant frame of the bear capable of ripping him apart in an instant. Joshua hurried back into the cabin, closing the door behind him.

Neil beckoned for him to return, but the best he could do was to lure him to the edge of the door. That’s when Joshua revealed the source of his fears. His father had once been attacked by a bear in a near-fatal incident. Only a child at the time, he didn’t witness the attack directly, but the aftermath was seared into his mind.

He would conjure up the image of his father returning to the house bloodied and bruised, collapsing on the floor anytime he recalled it. Since that day, he had avoided bears at all costs. To stay ready at all times, he carried a hunting knife. Many times over the years, his father had told him how dangerous bears were and that all the conservation efforts were only leading to more bear attacks. On more than one occasion, he had hunted bears himself illegally.

The former ranger listened patiently but refused to accept Joshua’s fears at face value. He was determined to show Joshua a different side of bears that he had never seen before. First, he demonstrated by throwing a basket full of food to Phelps, who feasted on it just like a human, carefully picking one item at a time.

There was no ferocity or aggression. Instead, the bear was gentle and methodical. Neil explained that black bears didn’t often eat meat—that was a common misconception. The basket was full of fruits and nuts, which is what they live on in the wild. Occasionally, Phelps would eat some fish, but for the most part, this animal was vegetarian. This surprised Joshua, who had always imagined that bears survived on meat.

Still, though, it wasn’t much comfort. Even from behind the fly screen door, Joshua could feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He had a working from bed sleepy and groggy, but by now was wide awake. And despite the seemingly playful nature of the bear, Joshua still wasn’t convinced by this old man’s story. Theories began to spin in his mind that Neil was either crazy or very confused. Either way, he wasn’t entertaining the possibility that bears were anything other than wild, dangerous animals.

But Phelps was about to prove Joshua wrong by showing him something he would never forget. As the bear was focusing on eating his food, Joshua finally felt comfortable enough to sit on the porch with Neil. They quickly became lost in conversation, finding that the two shared many of the same hobbies—hiking, fishing, camping. These were two men of the outdoors. As they chatted away, even Joshua lost track of the bear. He didn’t notice it quietly disappearing into the woods or that it had been gone for more than 10 minutes.

But in a flash, it came charging back through the bushes, appearing out of nowhere, and Joshua was jolted back into his fear. He dropped his mug onto the wooden veranda in shock, gasping for breath and preparing himself for the worst. Meanwhile, next to him, Neil rose up attentively, letting out a ferocious roar.

The bear rocked its body weight up onto its hind legs, striking a strong pose. While Joshua cowered in fear, Phelps wobbled back onto his paws, fighting onto the ground and turning back towards the forest. Meandering his way back into the thick foliage, Neil grabbed his hat and fastened it to his head in his stride, quickly disappearing in the same direction as the bear.

With his body out of view, Neil yelled backward for Joshua to join them. For a few moments, Joshua froze. He looked around him at the wall of trees, which darkened the further they stretched, and to the comfort of the wooden house.

His instinct told him to stay near the cabin, with the memory of his father flashing through his mind. Following went against all of his fears. For some reason, though, there was a nagging impulse at the back of his mind, telling him to follow the ranger, and he couldn’t shake it.

Joshua looked around again, shaking his head visibly, reasoning with himself. There was a quiet stillness and an atmosphere of being left behind, as though he was missing out on something important. Then suddenly, for reasons he couldn’t quite explain, Joshua took off after Neil and the bear, running as fast as he could, spraying branches away from his face, spitting leaves from his mouth in the hopes of catching up with them.

Once again, he did. Joshua could see Phelps up ahead, slowing to a standstill, intently focused on something much lower. Neil was shortly behind, poking his head from side to side, trying to get a view of the same thing. As Joshua shortened the gap, the objects swiveled into view, peeking through the bushes. What the bear had sniffed out was coming to light. Lying on the leafy floor of the forest in a small opening were two tiny furry creatures.

Joshua first thought they might be happy puppies, but on closer inspection, they had a lot more in common with Phelps than any dog he’d ever seen before. That’s when it hit him. These were two bear cubs, and they had somehow been left alone in the forest.

They were looking around, frightened, searching for a familiar face to no avail. There were no signs of any other bear or a refuge den that cubs were normally left in for protection. Having had experience with this kind of situation, Neil decided to take the cubs back to his cabin for safekeeping, wrapping them in a blanket for warmth while he searched for their mother.

All the while, though, he thought to himself that he hadn’t seen a bear other than Phelps in the area for years. There was little chance of any reunion. The walk back to the cabin was silent as Neil cradled the newborns. This experience changed Joshua’s mind.

When they arrived back at the cabin, he watched Phelps gently holding and playing with the cubs. It was heartwarming, but what he couldn’t stop thinking about was the look in the bear’s eyes when it roared at Neil and Joshua on the back porch.

Although terrifying when replaying it in his mind, he recognized a different emotion on the bear’s face. It was one of urgency, demanding the attention of the two men. There was no denying that its eyes were firmly fixed on them.

That’s what had compelled Joshua to follow them too—the feeling that this bear really was trying to communicate something. No doubt Phelps had done exactly the same thing after finding Joshua helpless in the woods, lying on the ground with no way out. Neil had dropped everything and followed instantaneously, without question.

From the conversations that Joshua had in their brief time together, he could tell that Neil was a very wise and knowledgeable man. It made him realize he had actually been saved by this bear, the animal he thought was a seven-foot killing machine. Bears were not always aggressive and dangerous like his father had told him. They could also be soft, loyal, and caring.

After a few more hours and a generous lunch, Joshua thanked his host—both Neil and Phelps—before making his way out of the woods. After a few days of this surreal experience, Joshua felt like he was coming out of a dream. His friends Bailey believed his tale, but from that day on, Joshua came on a yearly visit to the Smoky Mountains, not only for the hike but to visit Neil and his friendly bear who had been raising those two cubs into a small family.

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