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
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
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
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.