Close bear encounter
I was about to cross a bridge over a small creek yesterday when a small bear came out of the bushes and crossed the path about 20 feet away. (I was safe -- there were two hikers ON the bridge in front of me so they would be eaten first.) The bear continued into the meadow and up a ridge.
This was not my closest encounter with a bear in the wild but it was the closest in which I felt safe.
About 10 years ago I was deep in the back country, merrily going down a trail when a previously unseen bear growled at me from the trees maybe 5 feet to the left side. I was momentarily terrified but my thoughts quickly went from (1) stop suddenly and be mauled, or (2) run suddenly and be mauled or (3) just keep moving exactly the way I already was -- AWAY from the bear and not looking back. I chose (3) and hoped for the best. It worked. He growled again a few seconds later but didn't pursue me.