California Hiker Comes Face-to-Face With Bear on Trail

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Seeing a bear on a hiking trail isn’t at all unusual. As a hiker, after all, you’re walking through the bears’ home. Coming within inches of a bear, however, is another matter entirely. Luckily for Victoria Pham, she knew exactly what to do.

The hiking enthusiast regularly spends a day on the Mount Wilson Trail in Sierra Madre, but her most recent hike is one she’ll never forget. While making her way up the trail, she heard an unexpected commotion from up ahead. “I noticed these hikers were coming down, you know, kind of in a panic saying, ‘Oh my God! There’s an animal up there,'” Pham told ABC7.

An experienced outdoorsman, Victoria knew there was nothing to fear from the black bear casually making his way down the mountain. “I noticed this black bear coming down, and it was very calm and chill, just trotting along down the trail,” she said.

Knowing that the worst thing she could do would be to run, as it might startle the approaching animal, Victoria Pham made the decision to simply stand at the edge of the trail and let him pass. In the video she recorded of the encounter, you can clearly hear another hiker expressing their disbelief at her decision.

“He’s just gonna walk by,” Pham calmly explained to her fellow hiker.

Unbelievably, the bear appears to politely acknowledge the hiker as he passes by, glancing in her direction and making a soft grunting noise before disappearing around the bend.

“This bear just came and had my phone out and I just let it pass,” Pham explained. “He looked at me, and I looked at him and I was like, ‘Cool man!'”

Brave Hiker Explains Her Unusual Bear Encounter

For many, maintaining a calm demeanor while a massive bear strolls within inches of you would be next to impossible. With her wildlife training and experience, however, Victoria Phan knew that was exactly what needed to be done.

“We called truce,” the hiker wrote in the caption of the post before going into more detail on the experience.

“This is a Black Bear (in California) and they are generally easily scared off,” she continued. “I used to work in Yosemite National Park where I’ve gone through bear training and worked in Search & Rescue. So I’m quite familiar with bear behavior and body language.”

“I do recognize that it is a BEAR and can do serious damage,” the hiker explained. “I was already on the trail where I wouldn’t be able to outrun the bear going downhill or engage the bear to go back up the trail since there were hikers ahead.”

“Know that if I was in Montana or anywhere else in the world, I most definitely would NOT be standing there letting it pass,” she clarified.