How many grizzlies are enough?

By: Douglas H. Chadwick

On a midsummer tundra day in Alaska, I hiked to a hillside overlooking a cascade. The waters thrummed and thundered, somersaulted and sprayed rainbow mist. Throngs of arm-length salmon leaped the opposite direction, fighting to reach spawning grounds closer to the mountains. Amid that tumult, nearly sixty grizzly bears muscled along parting the currents like boulders, plunged open-mouthed into eddies, swiped at flying fish, mock-wrestled in the shallows, and napped on the shores next to watchful bald eagles and gulls. The place was as alive as it is possible to be, and it made me feel the same way.

I dropped down to the base of a rock ledge for a fresh view. Shortly after noon, a bear suddenly appeared around the corner. It was coming my direction fast – too fast for me to do anything but press back against the stone and keep still. Closer, closer. I stopped breathing. I felt the fur of the grizzly’s shoulder brush my chest, and …

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