Sunday, July 10, 2011
The long walk
The bear was obviously not going to change direction, we had been watching him feed our way for the last half hour tearing clumps of grass up by the roots and rolling every rock along the meadows edge in search of succulent grubs, ants , and any other high protein treat he could find. My friend is one of those individuals who has no fear of anything that moves on this great planet of ours.He also has no love for grizzlies, I am not sure if he was just born with this dislike of the bruins or if some encounter left him jaded. Whatever the reason, this bear has no idea of the wrath that is about to burst forth from this hidden patch of gnarly windswept limber pine. At thirty yards the bear suddenly stops, every hair on his back bristles and he rises to his full height in a bid to see the threat he has just winded. My friend is staring straight at the huge bruin, his eyes bulging and a very serious expression locked on his adversary. The bear slams back to earth with five hundred pounds of angry flesh, grunting his disgust at having intruders invade his most sacred meadow this far back in the wilderness. I am worried for a moment that this may well be my last encounter with a grizz, he slowly moves forward oblivious of the fact that i as a human should not be trifled with, my friend is literally shaking with anticipation as the bear moves forward. At ten yards the bear crosses an imaginary threshold, a place where bears are never allowed to go, my friend utters a low guttural growl and on my command launches from the stand of timber. With lightning quick reflexes he charges straight at the surprised bear, I always assume the bruins are quite surprised to be attacked on their own turf by this fierce little warrior. I have seen huge bears turn and run simply at the sight of my friend bearing down on them. this bear is no exception, he takes two hurried steps backward and kicks it in high gear, dust and torn grasses from his huge paws and long claws fill the suns rays along the ground as he beats a hasty retreat off to safer ground. My friend stops the assault in a fury of growls and high pitched whining. His hackles are at full height and the grin on his face , complete with one exposed tooth over his left lip. He makes two complete circles of the meadow, stopping to mark his territory everywhere the bear had the gall to step as it fed. After the customary marking of new territory, I call him back and am answered by a look of absolute disgust that would have made him the envy of any married woman on the planet, he returns to my side with a quiet arrogance and a bounce in his step. I pet his ears and he leans closer for more attention, as if to say I deserve this, I think to myself, would I charge a fierce grizzly to ward off a possible threat to my friend, probably not, yet he has done it many times and only asks for my friendship in return. Ditch the bear dog went to the happy hunting grounds yesterday afternoon, he was my friend and faithful companion for eleven years, we walked hundreds of miles together in the high lands and have spent many days in places where others have likely not walked in quite some time. When the wind is just right, and the forest speaks to me I will hear a quiet whine, and see a black and white friend checking the trail ahead for bear sign. Thanks little warrior for all the trails we shared, ill see you on the long walk someday. Until then rest easy in the shade of a high mountain pine my friend, ill keep my eyes peeled, stay to the shadows, and remember to check the wind.. you taught me that.