Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bears Like Bacon

1889, Official Map of Santa Cruz County,
A. J. [Andrew Jackson] Hatch
1877: C. C. [Charles Campbell] Rodgers, founder of the Mountain Echo newspaper published in Boulder Creek, had an encounter with a mother grizzly and her two cubs. Rodgers was living on his homestead at the source of Boulder Creek at Bull’s Spring (also known as Bull Springs). Bull’s Spring is close to Highway 236 on the edge of Big Basin State Park and on the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail.

Headwaters of Boulder Creek at Bull's Spring, with
a small concrete dam through which the creek flows.

He had not yet built his cabin on the land and so slept on the ground under the stars. Around sunrise one morning he awoke to find a large female grizzly eating his discarded bacon rinds just a few feet from the end of his bed, with two cubs a little further away. Rodgers and the bear looked at each other for a brief time - that seemed like an eternity to the former. He then sprung to his feet and without stopping to dress he “clasped the nearest tan-oak in a loving embrace” and made a desperate attempt to climb it. Fortunately, for Rodgers, the bear gave a disgruntled growl and sidled slowly off into the nearby brush.

The area has since been logged.
That very same day Rodgers constructed a scaffold, in a “bunch of redwoods” well up from the ground, and used it to sleep on until he had completed his cabin. He bored holes in a redwood into which he drove wooden pins so as to make a ladder up which he could climb to the scaffold high in the tree.

In October the same year, C. C. Rodgers had yet another encounter. The Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel reported:

“On the head of Boulder Creek, last week, C. C. Rodgers, while ascending a trail, found himself in the rear of a couple of grizzly cubs. They hurried along, a few feet apart, the hunter getting his Henry rifle in order to give them a salute. Hearing the pattering of feet behind him, he turned his head and beheld mother bruin, open mouthed, long-haired and shaggy, and apparently as large as an elephant. Thinking that there might be something in the bushes that he wanted he turned aside, breaking one side of his bridle in doing so. Held by one rein around and around swung his terrified animal, and the grizzly kings of the forest, together and satisfied that neither was hurt, moved off at their leisure, apparently indifferent to the presence of the man with the broken bridle.”