Twenty-two-year-old Lucas Meurlet knows how lucky he is to still be alive.
On Monday August 21, the young man from Nantes “saw his life flash before his eyes” on a hillside in Catalonia’s Aran Valley, very close to the France’s border with Spain.
Meurlet was hiking in the Spanish Pyreeness with his father and brother when he decided to attempt a climb up to a ridge at nearly 2,500 metres above sea level.
As his family members watched him climb up, they noticed the 22 year old unwittingly approaching a bear and its three cubs. They shouted out to alert him but by then it was too late.
Meurlet came face to face with the mother bear, clearly threatened by the encroachment into her territory and the threat she perceived to her cubs.
Horrified he began to run away, but the animal chased after him.
“I started to feel my legs failing me,” he told France Bleu, describing how he thought that was ‘it’.
With escape seeming impossible, Lucas found courage at an impasse and decided to confront the beast.
“I spread my arms and tried to intimidate her,” he recalled.
“She charged at me twice, the third time she opened her mouth wide.
“Suddenly, I found it in me to show the bear that I wanted to keep my life.
“I screamed at her with all my strength. And the bear actually took a step back and left.”
Still in a state of shock, the hiker takes refuge behind some bushes. Lucas’s father meanwhile called the Spanish emergency services.
Three helicopters arrived at the scene very quickly, airlifting the three men to safety at the shelter of Eylie Sentein in Ariege.