We all have dreams. Publishing a book, going to Paris… getting to see a bear up close in the wild. And sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we get to live out those dreams.
I won the bucket list lottery in Homer, Alaska.
I’ve seen bears in Denali National Park before. I’ve seen them pretty close from inside the bus and have stumbled upon a few in closer quarters while hiking. But I’ve always been a few hundred yards away.
Sidebar: A few hundred yards is as close as you should ever be to a bear. Even that distance can spook the bear, and then there’s bluff charges and the potential for pain and (very rarely) death. Bears are, in fact, wild animals that could eat your face and should be respected and treated as such.
But I’ve heard so many stories about hikers rounding a bend and there being a giant bear up ahead, and I’ve always felt a little left out. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours hiking in bear country and I’ve never had an “Oops, sorry Mr. Bear, I didn’t mean to scare you” experience. Probably because I follow the rules and do everything the park rangers say you should, but still, if everyone else gets to be sleeping in their hammock and wake up to a bear strolling by, why can’t I?
When the husband and I went to Homer, I said I wanted to see a black bear. My husband said, “No.” But after much debating, we ended up taking a boat out to Kachemak Bay State Park. The park is really neat, not only because it can only be reached by boat or by seaplane, but also because it has a glacier you can hike to.
We were hiking around, talking nice and loud to keep away the bears because the husband is a killjoy. I came around a bend, and there, right in the middle of the path not fifty feet ahead, was a black bear.
Time slowed as the bear turned to look at me, jumped like I’d just told him his friends had ditched him with a $1,000 bar bill, and ran into the trees.
I don’t have a picture of the bear because he was gone before I could shout “Take a picture” at the husband. But it happened. I got to see a bear up close in the wild!
I feel a little bad for startling the poor guy, but it was pretty awesome to see his beautiful face without binoculars.
Also, my husband got to hold a baby iceberg.
Accomplishing our goals a few miles in the woods at a time.