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    ~9 AM, Saturday, September 22, 2012 While kayaking on the Scuppernong River near Creswell about a mile upstream from the boat ramp at Spruill Bridge Rd., I first saw a small (3.5 ft) black bear climbing hand-over-hand down a tree from about 20 ft up. Immediately after reaching the ground she headed away. A cub (2-3ft.) descended the tree next to hers and followed her away into the dense growth along the bank. After they were out of sight, the first bear jumped into the creek and swam across about 100-120 ft upstream from my position. After reaching the opposite bank and jumping out, she turned around and waited while the the cub followed. They ran off together into the woods. Less than 30 minutes (est.) after sighting mama and cub, a larger bear (~4ft) came rapidly down a tree, not 50-75 ft to my right in what I can only describe as a controlled slide. I was alarmed at how quickly he came down that tree, but as fast as he hit the ground he scrambled away into the woods. I decided at this point, that as the creek was getting narrower, I should probably turn around and avoid a closer encounter. It gets better. After returning to the boat launch and my car to have a snack, make a few excited phone calls and generally collect my nerves, I continued paddling downstream this time several miles untill what do I see? Clambering around about 15 ft off the ground in a clump of trees too small to really hold his weight is Black Bear Number 4! He appeared a little over 3ft. in length. Seemed unaware or indifferent toward me until he began eyeballing me warily through the leaves. He then dropped down to the ground and disappeared into the swamp. It was only during the second sighting, when the larger bear and I really seemed to startle each other, that I felt any fear at all. It occurred to me, in that moment, how fast he was moving and that, if he wanted to come at me in such shallow water, he’d have been on me before I could really have reacted. The truth is, these animals wanted nothing to do with me – I came upon them quietly away from any trail. I paddle quietly, in nearly perfect silence sometimes, so I’m not surprised I got as close as I did before spotting we spotted each other. While on an early morning hike from Pettigrew State Park Campground, the next morning I observed a big ole pile of bear scat, a few miles from the campground. It looked like it contained mostly berries. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if bears pass through the campground at night. My recommendation to campers would be not to avoid this beautiful place, but to talk with the Rangers whenever possible and learn what kind of critters are around. Certainly keep your food and trash locked in the car overnight, as even raccoons can make a mess of picnic table and ruin your stuff. Maybe carry a small bell or other noise maker ( a quiet one please) while hiking or paddling. But at the very least, just keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings! I’ve been more startled by the occasional Great Blue Heron squawking and taking off in a great bug huff at my approach, than I was at any of these bear encounters. My biggest fear is that National and State Parks like this will become too popular for their own good and the wildlife we go there to experience will get run off.

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    Beautiful place to park, the trails lead to a historical home that is beautiful and the rangers are very helpful.

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    I took my son here spur of the moment to go camping. It was amazing. The ranger was helpful and friendly and the camp site was very nice. They had quality firewood for very cheap available right there. The lake and trails are beautiful. It exceeded my expectations.

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