The evening comes, well, not really... we were a bit ahead of schedule... it was 3:00pm and we were pulling out the spotting scopes. We glassed for hours, as a matter of fact, we glassed for about 3.5 hours without seeing anything. However, around this time, I started to hear movement to the left on the mountain across from us. I couldn't see that side from where I was, but the sound, it just sounded like it was an animal, a fairly big one too... I kept to my position and then I heard more, and then curiosity got the best of me. I abandoned my post, stood up and moved around the outlook to the left to see if I could put eyes on what I thought I was hearing. My eyes were immediately drawn to a huge dark spot amongst the manzanita... there was no question, I knew exactly what it was, I had scoped every inch of the mountain... I knew all the other dark spots, grey spots and brown spots... every crevice, every opening, I could draw that basin from memory alone... but this, I hadn't seen before and my heart got to pounding. I crept around a little more to see if I could locate Keith, and when I did, I said... fairly quietly, "BEAR! Big Bear, right across from us!"
Big, I'd say so... I'd also say that he was the biggest living bear in California, that I got to see with my own eyes. I'm sure there's bigger bears, but this guy, he's definitely the biggest to me. We sat there watching him for about an hour so... he ended up feeding down towards us and at one point in time, he was around 125-150 yards from us, then the wind shifted a bit and he decided to push away, but definitely in no hurry. During all of this, I'd like to think of Keith and I as if we were two children, perhaps seeing a bunch of Christmas presents around the tree early in the morning before your parents are awake... I'm not sure how many times we told ourselves how amazing this was, how awesome it was, to be there, just the two of us and this massive, gorgeous creature doing something he's done a thousand times, and we got to live it. It was exciting, I felt honored and thankful. He moved back up the mountain, in the same direction he came down... we decided to get a head start on dinner, at that moment, I had seen everything I needed to see. Oh yeah, I felt like the bear needed a name, on his chest is the perfect, absolutely perfect, I couldn't draw it better... anyway, a perfect white patch that is in the shape of a "V"... We'll refer to him from here on out as, Mr. V.
Back at camp, it was getting dark... I popped a melatonin, I wanted to get a good night's sleep, so I could be ready to wake up early for some more scouting. Anyway, Keith and I are both big fans of music, and I know it's not typical to play tunes while you're in the backcountry, but we put some music on softly and sat out there in the open under the stars discussing music, life and some religion too. I was fading pretty quick from the melatonin, but that night made me really appreciate the friendship's I have and especially the friendship I have with Keith, and I was happy he was willing to hike in there with me. I enjoy sharing the outdoors with good friends and family, it just makes the experience so much better, in my opinion.
Morning comes, and I am back on the outlook, slightly before Keith... warmed up some coffee and got my breakfast together and then punched the clock and went back to work. Never saw a single deer in the basin, but after an hour so... we heard more movement from the same direction as the night before and sure enough, there he was again... Mr. V, not alone this time though... there was a much darker bear, slightly smaller than him, but she was cruising near him, but not like they were together, just like there was two bears in the same area. Through the glass, this second bear looked like an old female to me. Grey in the face and a super saggy belly. She seemed like she was in a hurry and Mr. V was doing his thing, but still moving in her direction. They didn't stick around for long this time, but it definitely made me feel better to see the same bear we saw the night before... I now had a lot more hope. Saturday is the general season opener for deer and bear, I never thought my initial plan, would be a bear hunt on the opening of deer season... but, I want that experience. I found what I was searching for...
Shortly after both bears disappeared, we decided to hike out. With the goal to find an easier route in, which we did, though it is still not ideal, I have one other route in mind and we will give it a go Saturday morning. Counting down the days...
"I'm most comfortable here, amongst the things forgotten. Observing a world where I mean nothing, and I try not to... Yet, there I am. To be, only what I was meant to be."
Keith showed me this picture after we got home, the words below just seemed fitting:
I couldn't live a life, without the wild.