The float plane landed on remote Anan Bay with some surprising words from the pilot: He'd be back for us in four hours. WHAT? We were supposed to go into the woods, the woods with grizzly bears and black bears, alone? I mean, what if we saw one? Forgetting that was exactly the reason we were on this northern shore of the Cleveland Peninsula, somewhere south of Wrangell and north of Ketchikan. In fact, bear watching was our primary purpose for being in Southeast Alaska at all last August, but still, what if we saw one? "Make noise, sing, look big, and I'll see you at 1," he answered.
With that, he swung the nose of the plane south and piloted his three-seater down the watery runway toward Ketchikan and other adventurers eager to be dropped into their own Alaskan stories. We had four hours to write ours, and all that separated us from our story was a bear trail, one well-liked and well-used bear trail.
The trail to the
Walking with bears awakens some internal, but dormant thread; one that backstitches patterns of today with yesterday's weavings. Anan is old, ancient in fact. Maybe it's this long passage of time that gives it the palpable energy felt by present day visitors. Wondering if the rustling in the high grass behind you is the wind or something wilder than yourself demands a presence of mind that is sometimes dulled in today’s plugged in world. Yet, despite nerves being on full alert, walking with bears is also peaceful, restorative, and at times, comical. I think it's because bears are all of these things and more . They are playful yet fierce; courageous, but shy; stalwart, yet yielding. In four hours, the bears at Anan gave me a story. They also gave me this: be more than one thing in any given moment, be dimensional, and know balance when those dimensions appear to oppose.
I'm still learning, so sorry about the layout of the pictures, but here is some of my story: