Rachel Smith, the teen reported missing after leaving her home in Old Forge is safe. She was in a tree hiding from a bear protecting her cubs.

The 19-year-old told police she was running on a trail in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness area when she came across a mama bear and her cubs, according to WKTV.

Photo Credit - NYSP
Photo Credit - NYSP

Rather than trying to run, Smith says she climbed a tree and waiting hours until the bears left. Unfortunately Smith didn't have her phone and her Garmin battery had died. When she finally climbed down, she got lost in the dark, according to WKTV.

Smith found her way to the road in the morning, got a ride home and called police.

Thankfully Smith is home safe and she's got one hell of a story to tell.

The DEC has tips on what to do when you encounter a bear.


  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.
  • Don't

  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.
  • Further Action
  • If a bear approaches you: Raise your arms and speak in a loud, calm voice while backing away.
  • If a bear charges you: Stand your ground. If you have bear spray (leaves DEC website), dispense directly at the bear.
  • If a bear follows you: Stand your ground. Intimidate by making yourself look bigger by waving arms, clapping, shouting, or banging sticks. Prepare to fight or use bear spray.
  • If a bear makes contact with you: Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, or fists).

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