I spent 10 days in South Central Alaska floating a river last summer. I was with three other friends in two rafts floating down a 50 mile stretch of river, fishing (trout and salmon), hunting (mainly for grouse) and taking it all in. The bears were a big part of the experience. On the river banks where we would pull over there were always tracks, some the size of dinners plates. Each day, more or less, we would see a few or them, large brown bears, Grizzly. It was usually from a distance and they look like large moving boulders across the tundra. On one occasion we came up on a single male along a river bend. We were both startled, but he quickly turned and disappeared into the woods. I was rowing and my friend up front got the closest look, maybe 20 feet away.  

The nights we took precautions, but knew that anything we did would matter little if an aggressive bear wanted to get into a tent. But as the days went on we became less concerned and grew more comfortable with the surroundings and the dangers always present. I think during long periods of time outside in nature, the mind and spirit slow down to become part of the natural order. And as the days passed, I felt less like the enemy or prey of a bear and more like a fellow creature in the wild. I think the more a bear senses you belong here, the less likely he is to view you as a threat. In any case for those 10 days we lived in a harmony with the bears, rivers, mountains and trees. I felt I had found balance with the wilds, which maybe can be applied in many places.





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