"I knew I wasn’t safe" – watch heart-stopping encounter between solo runner, mama bear and cubs

Black bear standing in grass
The California trail runner says she tried every trick in the book, except bear spray, to deter the defensive bear (Image credit: Getty)

Make some noise is common advice from wildlife experts when it comes to bear encounters in the wild, but it's easier said than done. One runner, however, managed to remember the basics when she came within in inches of running into a bear family on a California trail recently.

In a video of the terrifying encounter posted to Youtube, runner Laura Gold is seen rounding a corner on a narrow path to discover a mama bear with two cubs. At first, the bears are seen moving away from Gold, but within seconds the mama bear changes direction and charges towards Gold, who was running alone.

"I was about 5 inches from hitting momma bear after turning a tight blind corner. To prevent myself from hitting her, I stopped as fast as I could and almost slid down the mountain doing so. I had already seen the cubs, so I knew I wasn’t safe," writes Gold on her Instagram account.

In the video, which you can watch below, Gold can be heard muttering that there's nowhere for her to escape to before roaring at the bear at the top of her lungs several times then using her whistle to try to deter the protective mama.

"I used every trick in the book (except bear spray) and nothing worked. Momma bear continued to move towards me until another hiker came from behind me and helped scare them away," says Gold.

Bear safety

California is home to between 25,000 and 35,000 black bears, which range in color from blonde to black. Though black bears aren't generally aggressive towards humans, they are known to act defensively when around their young and when they feel threatened.

All hikers recreating in bear country are reminded to keep their distance, observe wildlife from afar using binoculars, and carry bear spray on the trail. Learn more in our article on what to do if you meet a bear.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.