Every Halloween when I was a kid, my dad used to tell me a story about a big growling beast who terrorized families after dark. The beast would roam neighborhoods at night searching for a tasty treat, knocking over garbage cans and ripping through any bags left behind from trick or treaters. My heart would race as he described the beast; 600 pounds, covered in black fur with sharp teeth. I shivered and pulled the covers up closer around my shoulders as I envisioned the beast standing on its hind legs reaching my bedroom window and growling at me.
It would be a few years later during a camping trip to Shenandoah when I would see “the beast” for the first time. My dad and I were about a mile into a hike when he abruptly stopped and put his finger to his lips, motioning for me to be silent. A hundred yards ahead of us off the trail was an adult black bear.