Doing some wetlands delineation on company property. There was an area we called "tunnel town" due to the deer paths created over probably decades through the thickest rhododendron patch where sunlight never fully touches the ground. It was a huge forest of this stuff and I've had to track arrow shot deer down in there twice. It's an eerie place with the most clean cut 3 ft. ft tunnels through this stuff giving everything 100% cover and protection. It's a freaky place.
I'm working, dragging myself sideways on the ground, trying to go @400 yds to my next point. My S&W 686 is hanging up on everything and I can see about 5 ft in front of me. The smells of earth, the muskiness of deer crap when crossing tunnels and the stuffiness of no air moving down in there was heavy. These rhodos were 10 ft high and just a tangled mess. Everything was constantly wet. I found the little hidden creek in there, 4 ft wide with shallow pools full of native brown trout. I fish it further down stream where you have to hack your way into it. I had never seen this part for good reason. So, because this is work and I should be done by 3:00pm, I don't have a light or any real supplies. I'm 1/4 mile or less off the main road behind my office in a area I hunt.
While sweating, cussing and untangling myself, I busted something out twice. I believe it was the same animal. I was as close as 5 ft away from it twice and belly crawling with no access to my firearm. Bear I thought to myself with the smell that was left behind. The muskiness seemed heavier and I found kick marks in the mud. Big ones. It happened again after about another 75 yards too. Scared the shit out of me. That means something because I spent 6 years on PA's bear program. I've been around hundreds of bears. It's like this one was waiting for me and wouldn't move until I was right up on it. I hate habituated bears, but this one might have just wanted to see what it was that was stupid enough to come in there after it. Being in that situation and that position made me feel very vulnerable. I did not like that.
I did get severley turned around and very pissed off because I knew I was less than 1/4 mile from the main road but couldn't hear cars due to the dense rhodos. I had to wait until nightfall because I knew that they would turn on the lights to our ski area for maintenance gearing up for the upcoming season. With the glow of those lights, I should be able to go that direction and hit the main road.
So there I sat, listening to this "thing" move around me all the while stuck deep in "tunnel town". It was unnerving to say the least because he wasn't about to leave his cover and it's now getting dark. I sat in the middle of a tunnel with pistol out, just listening to this bear move through the rhodos. The sound down there made it seem a lot louder than it should have been.
Once it got dark and the lights came on, I felt and dragged my way out towards the light struggling for every foot of ground. The only break was when I crossed a tunnel or found one running the length for a while. This patch is so small, it seems almost silly to get stuck in it. I got out to the road all pissed off at 10:30pm.
All these many years backpacking and wilderness paddling and the freakiest thing I ever had happen was right behind my offic, 1/4 mile off a main road.