Our last day of holiday in the parks, and we still had one massive tick left to get - bears. Only one choice, up early. Despite brave words the night before it was only me and Judith leaving the car park at 6 as dawn was breaking. Lovely mist over the lakes and fields as we got going. Pretty much straight to Signal Mountain.
Couple of quick stops along the way, including where we saw the bald eagle before, but nothing much of additional interest and we could smell those bears.
On Signal Mountain we slowly crawled up the road, stopping the car and looking/ listening. Nothing. Lots of birds around but we were focused so not even mixed flocks got me going.
On one pull-off i got out and was surveying the brush around us. Basically we had hillside above and below, with low level scrub and huckleberries. One rock caught my eye, a furry rock that moved. "BEAR". Judith leapt out the car and we had our black bear.
About 30 yards away, truffling on berries, and moving parallel to the road. As we has stopped, we created interest for other cars, and soon we had about 20 people watching the bear.
As it moved, we drove on about 50 yards and waited, then it caught us up. Most people though have no patience and after a few minutes drove off. Finally it was just us and a lovely couple of volunteer wardens watching the bear. It didn't worry about us, just kept eating berries and at one point even ripped open a hollow log (very loud and slightly alarming). Finally a it came up the slope towards us (not with any intent, just after berries) we retreated and left it to it. Marvellous.....
We also managed to get a dusky grouse feeding by the side of the road, but by then, who cared. We had our bear. What a marvellous end to the holiday.