Saturday, September 02, 2017

In these uncertain times...

I'm surrounding myself with nature, the mountains and flowers and fields here in Montana, where I am spending time for a while:

I don't know if you can tell but we are hiking along the top of a ridge with pretty much down on either side of the trail, which adds to the beauty surrounding us from below and above and around.

Danger surrounds you out here a little too because it is a harsher place, you could fall off the trail on either side as it gets steeper, and either side gets rockier.  Animals too, the dogs got in a fight with a young male moose recently, they were playing but the moose wasn't, and they finally got that and ran away when the moose charged them, but they weren't freaked, and ran back to me, 100 yards away, laughing at their encounter, and the adrenaline rush.  

They mostly fail at catching wildlife, the moose was the only time they encountered something up close since we got here, they usually try but fail to catch something, anything, but they are noisy because they wear bear bells on their collars, small brass Christmas bells to warn wildlife that they are coming.  And if if we somehow come across something too dumb to hear or understand the bells, they don't have the reflexes or speed to catch anything anyway.

I have a bear bell too, on my pack where I also have bear spray, which is a big can of mace essentially, but like 5 times larger and 100 times more potent.  I wear it in a kind of sling under my arm, so I can get to it quickly, you have about 2 seconds when a bear starts charging, and even though I have the dogs, they can only slow him down for about a half second...unless they take off which might happen too.  But I think/hope they will be protective and give me that extra half second, even though I'd probably choke anyway, snagging the spray on something as I try to pull it from its sling or maybe I would simply stare at the bear dumbfounded, as a seven foot tall, eight hundred pound grizzly charges at me for invading her space.  

I am more terrified of that than anything.  Just the other day a trail closed to people, because an elk had died on the trail, and there was "feeding activity." 

We have only seen one, as we drove up to a trail head, feeding in the fields on one side of the small road.  He was there off and on for a couple of weeks, a young male, and we saw him feeding in the garden of a house along the narrow road too.  We stopped once at the house, when we didn't see the bear but did see a person, and told him about the bear, and he was pretty much unfazed, saying something about yea he's back, and thanked us and we drove away.  

His underreaction made me think that I may be overreacting a little on the bear front.  Also, as is sometimes the case in life, the other day I bent over to pick one of the dogs up to put him in the back of the truck after our hike, and managed to dislodge the safety catch on the bear spray, and spray him and me, and my armpit.  So we sneezed our faces off, and cried from the spray in our eyes, and my armpit hurt for the rest of the day.  In other words, I only harmed myself with my preventative measure. 

Besides, like the dogs with the moose, I do know the beneficial effects of meeting and controlling danger in nature, and in life.  For me it has become as necessary as breathing, and sometimes is the only thing that allows me to learn to breathe, especially when I have to go to some city for a few days to deal with some matters, like a court hearing about discrimination against my people.

And I've doubled down on some of the more dangerous aspects at times, like when I go downhill mountain biking, which is a sport that requires about eight hundred dollars of protective gear:

But it is fun and cathartic, demanding precise focus and control, and in my uncertain times, and like the dogs, I have an atavistic need for the experience: 
Still shot with data from my GoPro bike mounted camera

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