Published: 11:55 EDT, 1 September 2020 | Updated: 12:45 EDT, 1 September 2020
A woman’s close encounter with a black bear that walked curiously up to her group while they were out on a hike has been caught on video.
Julie Tupey, 25, was told to get up slowly and walk away as the bear got closer at the top of the Stairway to Heaven trail in New Jersey at the height of coronavirus lockdown in June.
Her friend Joe Kun, 25, a real estate agent from Monmouth County, New Jersey filmed the footage and told his friends to back away.
Mr Kun said: ‘It was early on in the summer in the middle of June when New Jersey was still under rather strict lockdown because of the coronavirus.
‘There wasn’t much to do at the time so we decided to go hiking at a very popular trail called Stairway to Heaven in Vernon NJ which has a viewpoint at the top of the trail.
Julie Tupey, 25, was told to get up slowly and walk away as the bear got closer at the top of the Stairway to Heaven trail in New Jersey at the height of coronavirus lockdown in June
‘As usual there were all the notices posted at the beginning of the trail and we ironically even joked about what we would do if we saw a bear.’
In north Jersey, it is not uncommon to see bears in the wilderness but they do not usually approach humans.
Mr Kun said: ‘Once we got to the top of the trail around 3pm there were quite a few other hikers up there so we went off to the rightmost area of the clearing close to the woods to sit and have lunch.
‘A few minutes after we sat down, the bear emerged from the woods at the end of the rock formation.
‘We froze, the bear looked at us, and quickly continued across the rocks down in hill back into the woods below us.
‘I tried to take a few pictures then but my phone was buried somewhere in my bag.
‘My friends were actually making fun of me that my first reaction was to look for my phone and take pictures but its something that doesn’t happen often so I wanted to record the moment.
‘We were all shocked and as we talked about it and continued on with our lunch I could hear that the bear was still closeby, walking through the leaves underneath the rock formation we were sitting on.
‘Then after about five minutes or so we could see the bear walking back up the trajectory it had originally made which is when I started recording the video.’
The tension rose when the bear moved closer to Ms Tupey, who was sitting on a rock.
Mr Kun added: ‘As the bear had already passed us once we expected it to simply go back into the woods where it originally came from.
‘Once the bear made it to our spot on the rocks and started coming towards us I realized that it wasn’t afraid and wasn’t going to stop, so we needed to get up and go.
‘Even after we got up and left the bear kept walking up the rock formation to where we were sitting at this point the video ends and even further past that to where there were other hikers.
The tension rose when the bear moved closer to Ms Tupey (pictured), who was sitting on a rock
The group sat down away from other hikers in order to enjoy their lunch. They were soon disrupted by a bear that emerged from under the cover of trees
‘My friends and I went down the trail, so I guess the bear did eventually go back into the woods.
‘We didn’t report the bear to any rangers or authorities because it didn’t exhibit any aggressive behaviours. We were in nature, after all, the bear had every right to be there.’
Mr Kun stayed calm and collected throughout the video even at one point telling his friends to slow down. He revealed: ‘I have seen bears before but never this close.
‘People who know me consider to be pretty level headed so I guess the reaction is something that isn’t out of the ordinary.
‘I was able to stay calm and react in the way I did because I could tell that the bear was not aggressive or coming after us in particular.
‘It was just exploring its surroundings curiously, but what made it so amazing was the fact that it almost didn’t even seem to care or even notice we were there.
‘I wasn’t scared at all. I was excitedly recording while trying to make sure all my friends stayed safe.
‘My friends, on the other hand, didn’t seem to really appreciate me deciding to record at the moment and were scolding me a bit.
‘As we moved away we were warning the other campers who at first didn’t seem to believe us or think we were joking.
‘Once they realized how serious we were they got a bit anxious and moved out quickly too.
‘Once we all got back to the main trail, of course, there were some people whom all of a sudden felt courageous and wanted to try and go back to see the bear for themselves!
Her friend Joe Kun (pictured), 25, a real estate agent from Monmouth County, New Jersey filmed the footage and told his friends to back away
‘At that point, we had seen enough ourselves so we headed back down the trail warning people about the bear sighting along the way and hiked back down the trail to the car.’
Ms Tupey has been applauded for remaining so calm by internet users after the video of her slowly walking away from a black bear on a hiking trail surfaced.
Whilst one other social media user had a more humorous approach to the video and said: ‘This is the reason why I don’t hike. In fact, this is the reason why I don’t exercise at all. Bears.’
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World news – US – New Jersey hiker has a scarily close encounter with a bear