Lewis Griswold

Lewis Griswold: Reporter startles bear on trail -- and vice versa

On the last day of a six-day backpacking trip to the high country in Kings Canyon National Park, I came face to face with a mama bear.

But she got away before I could get the interview.

About two weeks ago, our party of three hiked the popular Rae Lakes Loop trail, but on this stretch my hiking partners were way ahead of me.

The trail was mostly downhill. Following a meander through ferns by Bubbs Creek, the trail made a sharp right turn before heading uphill as as it entered a clearing.

That's when I looked up to see a bear on the trail about 30 feet in front of me. As the bear turned its head to look at me, I gasped and stopped dead in my tracks.

The bear quickly turned away and walked into the brush, its brown fur undulating as it walked.

I craned my neck and spotted a bear cub hugging a tree. Yikes! I've stumbled across a mama bear and her cub!

The interview would have to wait for another time.

I immediately backtracked, then saw that the trail veered away from the bear and her cub. I walked rapidly past the danger zone and got out of there.

After a minute, I turned to see if the bear was behind me -- thankfully, the trail was empty -- but so much adrenaline was flowing that I caught up with my fellow hikers in no time.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are well-known for opportunities to view bears in the wild, parks spokeswoman Dana Dierkes said. Bear-human interactions causing problems have fallen off in the backcountry due to the use of bearproof canisters and food storage lockers, she said.

CROSSROADS: Crossroads Community Church, meeting at the Visalia Convention Center for the past nine years, held its last service there and is now meeting at the 1,300-seat Fox Theater in downtown Visalia.

Outreach minister Nick Anthony said the move worked out well because Crossroads is also renting part of the Franey building next to the Fox, for offices, Bible study and youth ministry.

Crossroads Community Church offers Sunday service from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Crossroads works with the Visalia Rescue Mission, Love Inc., and FoodLink as part of its "Find, Serve and Love" mission.

TULARE HOSPITAL: Delaminating concrete in the Tulare Regional Medical Center hospital tower project has been repaired, the district reports.

Two weeks ago, a contractor finished pouring new concrete to repair the problem on the third and fourth floors of the five-story tower. Last year, too much air got trapped as concrete was poured, causing it to crumble.

Tests are needed to be sure the fix worked, but hospital officials are optimistic. A new timeline is expected this week from Harris Construction.

BANK JOB: Barbra Hood of Visalia has a new job as vice president and senior business development officer at Suncrest Bank in Visalia.

Previously, she held a similar position at Visalia Community Bank, recently acquired by Central Valley Community Bank based in Fresno.

Hood is well-known in downtown Visalia. She was 2011 Visalia Woman of the Year, 2005 Volunteer of the Year at the Visalia Chamber of Commerce in 2005, and served as Mardi Gras Queen for The Creative Center.