Three reports have been recently received of bear activity along the TEHCC section. On June 13th, hikers were disturbed by a bear at Low Gap on Unaka Mountain who would not leave their campsite. Next day (June 14th), a juvenile bear was encountered around Cherry Gap Shelter, who again did not want to leave. The leader used bear spray in an attempt to negatively reinforce the bear, which returned that evening to take a pack. The pack did not contain food, which was properly hung. On June 15th, a third report was made for three miles south of the Mountaineer Falls Shelter. Along the trail it was apparent there was a lot of bear activity. Necessary precautions to limit risk of encountering a bear were taken including hanging bear bags 50 feet or more from the campsite.
ATC and USFS have been notified or provided information on all of these incidents. Warning signs were posted on Monday at trailheads and in the shelter at Cherry Gap. Camping at Low Gap or Cherry Gap Shelter is presently not recommended.