“The mountains have always been here, and in them, the bears.”

The title is from The Lost Grizzlies by Rick Bass

WP D7K_6892-EditThis shot was taken from 1300 to 1500 yards distant. I could have used a longer glass but wasn’t prepared to even spot anything this far away (I have 71 year old eyes). Fortunately, they were silhouetted nicely on the ridge. This is a mother grizzly and her 3 cubs in their second season.

“Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness to heaven; one may never get there”.
– Aldo Leopold (in “A Sand County Almanac”, 1948)

WP D7K_7201-Edit-2

This one was about 200 yards away down in a river bed. You can see the characteristic hump on its back and the sun shining through the lighter hairs which gives the Grizzly its name.

Nikky
Nikky

Nikky was much closer. Between 5 and 10 yards!! This wasn’t in Denali; it was one of the hiking trails around Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau a few days before. We were standing on a narrow wooden bridge over a creek with the guide pointing out some spawning salmon below. Nikky came out of the bushes right where the bridge rejoined the path, looked at us as if she wanted to pass, then turned and sauntered up the trail. She frequents this area and is well known. In past seasons she has been accompanied by a couple of cubs. Fortunately, because of the close encounter, she was alone this time. She had been captured at some point and wore a radio collar around her neck.

“When all the dangerous cliffs are fenced off, all the trees that might fall on people are cut down, all of the insects that bite have been poisoned … and all of the grizzlies are dead because they are occasionally dangerous, the wilderness will not be made safe. Rather, the safety will have destroyed the wilderness.” 
– R. Yorke Edwards (Canadian environmentalist) 

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