Bears in Lafayette


From 1860-1864, William Brewer traveled extensively in California. He was part of the government survey team that was making sense of the newest state of the Union.

His journal is well-written and a fascinating look at California during those years. Mt. Diablo was a major player in the survey. A benchmark on the northern peak anchors all of the benchmarks in the Central part of the state. Benchmarks are bronze markets, usually set in stone, marking position and elevation.
Brewer made some amazing notes while camping in the Concord/Pleasant Hill area. He noted that it was quite dangerous to travel at night, even for a few miles, because grizzly attacks were quite common.
Grizzly bears? I know they are on the flag, but Bay Area foothills?
It does make some sort of historical sense, the trail that I ride on my recumbent trike often follows Grizzly Creek. I hadn’t really made the connect before, but today it became shockingly clear.
I was on one of the trail’s major bridges, and listening to the sound of fast running water in the creek from the recent rains.
The bubbling and gurgling of the creek was soon drowned out by the bubbling and gurgling of throats being slashed open. What? From nature to unnatural, a horrible shift.
Screams of pure terror, high pitched, incessant wailing from dozens upon dozens individuals. This was even more distressful because there was a youthful feminine quality to the screams.
Something had crawled out of the creek and was now cutting a wide swath with claw and talon, and bleeding flesh in its wake.
I was torn between flight and fight. Every inch of me wanted to pedal as fast as I could in the opposite direction. Another part wanted to travel to the sound, find a rock or staff in order to beat off the attack.
All this occurred in milliseconds, faster than I could control my muscles or logical thought.
I was next to Grizzly Creek (the last grizzly in California was way up north in the Sierras in 1908). I was also two blocks from the local junior high during lunchtime.
Very vocal students at Stanley Junior High, but probably none were being attacked.
Could have fooled me, at least for a millisecond.