There are times when I ask myself “why?” with all the beauty that abounds close to home, that I feel compelled to wander far afield. After all I have my own little piece of paradise, a small acreage in the foothills of the Rockies, just a stone’s throw from Kananaskis country.
With stunning mountain vistas and exciting weather systems constantly birthing from the eastern slopes and in the heart of the historic ranchlands – what more could you ask for? I have spent the winter renovating a 950 square foot farm house circa 1946. With only a few landscaping jobs left to do it represents a sense of accomplishment, but also of scaling down from the hectic pace of running a full time equestrian center. It is peaceful there. My two young horses Overtone and Anicca seem content here, well , now that they have concurred that a wire fence IS indeed a real fence.
I had thoughts of returning to Katmai even before I had left it last year. It certainly was not my intention to return so soon, but after enquiring about trips with photographer/guide Kent Fredriksson, if became clear that this would have to be the year. Kent has been camping in Katmai for 14 summers and this might be his last. He hopes his mission there, a photography book and story of the Katmai Bears, will be completed.
On my last trip Kent was our guide for one evening of photography and it was clear to me that to capture the wildlife at the best times and with the best light, it meant camping in the park. None of the comforts and 5-star meals on the Katmai Coastal Tours ship like last time. My backpack is now loaded with food for 10 days of camping – weight and USA border restrictions determines that it is mostly freeze dried and probably horrible. It is sustenance and nothing more.
I am a little frightened. I think it is better to be a bit on edge than complacent of the hazards of the wilderness. My first concern is the weather. There will be no security of vehicle or roof-top tent to keep me from the elements. I am not sure if I have the right gear, enough rain-proof clothing, a warm enough sleeping bag. And then there are the bears. Yes, they are the main reason for the trip, but they generate in me an awesome sense of fear coupled with an intense curiosity. I have fallen into the abyss of bear-addict like many before me. I am heading back to get my fix.