Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Afraid of Bears

The Deadliest Catch ended. But it will repeat in five minutes.

For the last hour, I have half paid attention to this show about a group of people "surviving" in the Alaskan wilderness. I would not mind seeing Alaska one day.

When I was young, my impression of Alaska had everything to do with what I learned in school. It's cold, there's snow, and Eskimos live there. In igloos. Julie of the Wolves is one of my favorite books. But there is more to Alaska. Like grass. Trees. Flowers. Running streams. None of these were mentioned when I was in grade school or even in high school.

While getting my undergrad degree, I enrolled in an anthropology course. One of the assignments was to watch a film (movie) called 'Never Cry Wolf.' Still one of my favorites. This guy, based on a real guy, goes to Alaska and lives among wolves to prove they are not the reason the caribou population is shrinking. For much of the movie, there are green things growing. Of course, it does snow before the movie ends. His interaction with the wolves is incredible, but the best part is when he decides to run naked with the caribou. Does he prove that wolves are not killing off the caribou? You will have to watch it to find out. Oh, and bring a sudoku puzzle or your laptop to work on if you have little tolerance for movies lacking in dialogue.

The documentary on the guy who wanted to live with the Alaskan grizzlies... this was disturbing to watch, especially since I knew the outcome ahead of time. But I could not stop watching. The documentary actually aired in separate episodes. As subsequent episodes meant the end was near, I felt more and more creeped out.

A good friend of mine, Jenn, just got back from a backpacking trip. She emailed me a couple of awesome pics. The subject of the email read "You will be relieved to know that I did not get eaten by a bear!" Ha, ha! We had discussed this before she left.

When I am hiking on a local mountain trail, I keep my eyes open for bears and snakes. I have seen snakes in the wild before, but I have never seen a bear. Part of me is very curious and would not mind seeing a bear. My personal reality checker admits that if I ever actually saw a bear... my heart rate would take off like a spooked colt, and I know I could not look him in the face.

Jenn has seen a bear. No, bears. Bear cubs. She did not have to tell me that you don't ever want to get between a cub and Mama Bear. I knew. There were two cute bear cubs, she said. She and her dad scanned the area and found their mother. Between them and the cubs. And then they got the quiet heck out of Dodge.

I told Jenn that if I ever ran into a bear while hiking, my dog would be the first one gone. He is the best lab I've ever seen, but he is also a big chicken. (Smile) I love him. Before Jenn heard my whole anecdote, she was going to tell me why a dog is not going to save me from a bear. (Laugh)

The last time I walked a trail, I looked in the direction of nearly every sound I heard. Glanced at every movement captured in the nets of my peripheral vision. Once, I think maybe I came close to spotting a bear-- but then my heart started playing ping pong in my chest, and I walked, almost ran, the other way. My dog isn't the only big chicken.

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