Microsoft Press is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, just minutes (or hours, depending on traffic) east of the bustling Seattle metropolis. Our offices sit atop a high-rise building, in view of the neighboring condos, corporations, hotels, restaurants, upscale shopping malls, and a mid-sized convention center. In fact, Bellevue is the second largest city center in Washington state. The wilderness, it ain’t.
Yet another 15 miles to the east, nestled in the Cascade foothills, you’ll find the peaceful town of Snoqualmie, population 1600, home to MS Press marketing manager Kim Spilker and her family. A sylvan sanctuary, Snoqualmie, and the setting for our story.
Kim was taking an after-supper walk in the woods near her house several evenings ago, accompanied by her 11-year-old daughter and Great Pyrenees dog. A beautiful warm spring evening in Snoqualmie, sun going down, bathing the leaves and trails in a golden light. No one else around. About a mile or two into their hike, Kim and her daughter hear a noise above them, a loud rustling. They spot a shadowy figure high in a tree. As they look closer, they can see it’s a black bear, not a very large one, but, making its way down the trunk, large enough.
Kim, daughter, and dog are all of one mind. They turn and take off back down the trail, this time sprinting like Olympians. They run without looking back, for what seems like miles, until Kim can’t run anymore. She tells her daughter to keep going, to save herself. But her daughter dutifully stops and waits for mom. Fortunately, the bear is nowhere to be seen. They catch their breath, as quietly as they can, and continue briskly home.
Back safely in the house, Kim downs a few Advils. Her daughter meanwhile is telling her dad all about it, calling it a “cool adventure” and very much anticipating the next one.
For Kim, and daughter’s, next encounter, here are a few of the Bear Facts from our friends at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
If you come in close contact with a bear:
- Stay calm and avoid direct eye contact, which could elicit a charge. Try to stay upwind and identify yourself as a human by standing up, talking and waving your hands above your head.
- Do not approach the bear, particularly if cubs are present. Give the bear plenty of room.
- If you cannot safely move away from the bear, and the animal does not flee, try to scare it away by clapping your hands or yelling.
- If the bear attacks, fight back aggressively. As a last resort, should the attack continue, protect yourself by curling into a ball or lying on the ground on your stomach and playing dead.