April 26th 2014
I told the E(who I was going to go biking with): “well I don’t really think we will run into any bears”, just because I really didn’t think so. We met up with another friend of mine in Denali and drove out to Teklanika. Right now before the tourist season they have the road open to mile 30 for personal cars, which is Teklanika. When me and W went biking last year we went from Savage river to Teklanika, so I hadn’t been biking pass that point before.
We biked less than 0.5 miles until my friend said “it’s an animal, an animal, there” And I was thinking where, where is the animal, searching for a moose or something in the bushes. But further down in the river valley was a bear.
I felt calm though, because this bear was so far down below that I didn’t feel that he/she was a threat. I half serious asked my friend so, what is the probability of actually running into a second bear, now when we already seen one, that must be pretty low right (and I knew right as I said this that, that is not how the statistical probability works..), She turned to me and said…eeh no i don’t think so.
We continued biking, across the river, continuing up, up, and up. Bear and wolf tracks on the side of the road. We talked about everything between the earth and heaven. Lynx-snowshoe hare cycles, musk-ox giving birth, reindeer calves, boys, long-term relationships with life, the park, and boys.
I was tired, but continued biking because I knew that we would have some kind of “reward” in the end. Our goal was only 9 miles in, but it was uphill and it was enough, for at least me to get really tired. We decided to leave the bikes and hike the rest of the way to Sable pass. After each corner another stunning view was visible,
just like the whole bike ride had been so far. We were definitely not the only ones biking, a lot of people had the same idea.
So finally we reached Sable pass, and it turned out that the more awesome view was even further away. We hiked a bit further until we could see Denali again, before we turned back to our bikes again.
On the way back we ran into the bear technician, he told my friend that the bear is now closer to the road and he is sleeping, so we should keep our eyes open. GREAT, is exactly what I was thinking, a sleeping bear close to the road.
The rest of the way back was so easy, and that is when I actually really realized that we had been going uphill the WHOLE way to Sable pass. As we approached the bridge, right before the final uphill towards Teklanika, my friend said, ok are you guys ready, and I was like haha…yup ready to encounter the sleeping bear. We got to the bridge and I saw this other biker halfway across the bridge taking pictures. I looked out on the river bed, and thought to myself “what is that big thing, is that a Musk-ox?”, until I loudly said Oh my God it is the bear. I just don’t know why but it made me so scared.
My blood was rushing and I could feel my heartbeat and my legs felt shaky. Now thinking back about it I think it is because I haven’t had that many bear encounters, so I haven’t had a chance to study the bears. This bear though was huge, and we all thought it was the same bear as we had seen earlier, until another pair of bikers came and I heard them in the background “Oh wow there is another bear”. Well there goes my little theory about probability statistics. This bear did not seem interested in anything else other than the stream bed, and he kept walking up and down, digging. He didn’t run per see, but bears are so big, especially this one, and it didn’t take long until he/she had moved from one side to another. My friends felt more calm, but said that if I didn’t feel comfortable we could wait a while longer and study him to see what he is doing. By that time lots of spectators of course gathered, on the other side, and also on “our” side. I am always so surprised how close people get. How close can you get? Sure, I love taking pictures of bears, but I rather be further away, and protected while I do that.
After a while we decided to bike, the bear had moved aways a bit from the bridge, but was still pretty close to the other side. As we biked uphill we passed several spectators, watching and admiring the bear. And all that I could think about how badly I wanted to get away, I couldn’t even get myself to shift gears because I felt worried that the bear was going to hear it an run for me. Which obviously probably would never happen, especially considering the amount of people in that area at that point. But it really made me think about my fear. Where exactly does it come from and why am I so afraid of things like this?
“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear. Thus a feeling of utter unworthiness can be a source of courage” – Eric Hoffer
I am a:
I currently live in Fairbanks, Alaska, and have lived here since August 2009. In this blog I will share my photographs from my life here, and of course stories about life in general in Alaska. So if you are as enthusiastic about an active outdoor life and love nature and photography as much as I do, you will probably like it.
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