In Pursuit Of The Illusive Grizzly


Backpacking Idaho
Sept. 1975

It was a crazy summer. I kept working for Gary and it was impossible
to finish work without a heavy beer buzz. Come fall, when Denny asked
me if I wanted to do some trout fishing out west, I was up for it.
Denny needed a change from the streams in the Black Hills. He was an
avid trout fisherman. The two of us made plans to go to Montana. As it
turned out, we ended up backpacking in Idaho, just over the Montana
borderline.

Sept. 7

Over the past year or so my journal entries had been sparse, the
outcome of settling down. Getting back into the wilderness had livened
up my creative juices, however. Escape, freedom, solitude, there are
many words to describe my need to get back into the wilderness, not the
least of which was the grizzly bear.

After Setting Up Camp
Sept. 9

My obsession with the grizzly bear had driven me to take excessive
chances. Equipped with a camera, I sauntered off the beaten path in
search of the illusive growler, and I found him, well, at least I
found a fresh pair of tracks. The chase was on after that. I stumbled
through chest high deep grass expecting to see the bear at any moment.
It was extremely exciting, but also very stupid. Eventually my head
cleared, and I stopped the madness. I asked myself, “What the hell
are you doing?”

The wilderness invited the fear of the unexpected. I guessed that was
why I liked it. Back in Deadwood, everything was so in its place. I
was C.S.’s boyfriend, Gary’s helper, or that kid with the beer in his
hand. “That person” was a far cry from the one experiencing the vast
and incomprehensible wilderness where Homo sapiens were mere visitors.
I preferred frequenting the bear as opposed to walking around with the
living-dead, the people whose lives were already “old ink.” I was very
aware that my ink was dying up fast too, that was why I was so grateful for
the bear.

Life had to be brought to life through passion and fear. The bear made
sense out of nonsense. The bear put substance into existence. But,
for that experience, I shouldn’t have to pay with my life. The fear
born out of sharing the wild with the bear should be enough. It should
be all that is required to make me aware of the “false security” that
suffocates life, suffocates the magic and mystery that is life. Dying
for that experience, I’m sure, would be counterproductive. Today, I
tracked a grizzly; tomorrow will not find me in hot pursuit of this or
any other bear. Fear is good, but it doesn’t have to kill you to make
you whole. Perhaps I will get lucky and see a bear in the future. If
that happens, it will not be a result of irrational behavior. It will
be the result of simple chance.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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3 Responses to In Pursuit Of The Illusive Grizzly

  1. Beyond your interesting life and excellent writing about the same, I think I really appreciate your blog because we have lived in parellel paths. Yours took you adventuring in the wilderness “where Homo sapiens were mere visitors.” I always contemplated doing so but instead found myself diving deeper and deeper into the urban wilderness, the man made.danger zone. I do love day hikes and scaling hard cliffs and wandering through the desert, and walking the Hudson, and always, always being near water, as long as there is a car and a hotel and a bed at the end. But my life is in concrete, in the man made canyons, with the predators of my own species around me to bring me to life “through passion and fear”. And yet I havwe always known that: “Dying for that experience, I’m sure, would be counterproductive.” As have you, I have come closer than was wise, but here we are…

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      And thank the stars (the Lord is in it all anyway) for the two of us being able to say to each other, “Yes, I know about that, having traveled a parallel path.” Thanks for sharing, and although it may not seem like it to you, the predators I have encountered are far less dangerous than the one’s you have encountered. Stay safe and wise!

  2. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    Fishing trout in Montana in Sept 1975… Sounds interesting!! 😀

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