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. (more…)