Monday, October 28, 2013

"More Than Anything I Would Like To See A Bear."

Two summer's ago, on Solstice Eve, hiking in the Olympic Mountains with friends, we came upon a black bear. That same morning as we were just leaving the campground, a rogue female elk from a pack that had been hanging out our whole stay on the gravel bar in by the river charged a campsite next to us, damaging cars and tearing up the tent of our neighbors from the night before.

As we hiked out, adjusting the straps of our packs, joking about the rangers rushing to the scene with flashing lights, carrying what we took to be tranquilizer guns, we had no idea that the mare was truly considered dangerous, that the ranger's ended up shooting her and sending her brain and tissue samples to a lab, to figure out what had caused her to go mad.

We hiked up the valley, following the river, diverging from it into the woods, the dark, deep old growth forest, the likes of which exists almost nowhere else on Earth. The likes of which once stretched for hundreds of miles, from the tip of the Olympic Peninsula, down to meet their sisters on what is now the Oregon Coast, and on to their grandmothers, the California Redwoods...

To read the rest of this post head over to Terralectualism, where Mary is running a guest post series on Animal Encounters and their spiritual implications.


  1. I'm so happy you guys were able to alert them about the bear and made loud noises so he didn't hurt anyone! This summer my boyfriend and I were 5 ft from a black bear, as we were camping in Banff National Park in Canada and he ransacked our campsite! You can check out the story on my blog here if interested:

    It was blessing to have such an intimate encounter with such a beautiful and amazing creature! It felt like a spiritual connection and a message being sent our way! Never in my life would I have ever imagined seeing a bear so close in real life! I will forever treasure the memories of the day we saw that beautiful bear! :)

  2. Oh Milla, I do love your writing! You are so great at recounting the magic, mystery, and beauty of your everyday! You suck me into your storytelling the way Craig Childs (one of my favs) does with his stories about the American southwest deserts - he definitely helps me create connections to my more primal energies, and my mind is able to conjure up stunning dreamlike imagery from his storytelling. This story of your does the same thing for me. You really are able to convey so much with your writing....have you ever thought of publishing a book?


  3. (After leaving this comment on Mary's page, I realized it needed a few corrections, so here it is again in its final form :o)

    Milla, I am in awe. The words you choose, their subtle echoes and their pace, everything is perfectly tuned to the events and feelings you are describing – to the way they unfolded, filled the air and your minds and your bodies at the same time.

    “We all know that feeling: the hair on the back of your neck moving in the invisible breeze, your skin rising up against your clothes, the inexplicable sense of a something, something that the sensible, adult you tries to wave aside, while the primordial, animal you just wants to take off and run.”

    You know, when I visited Vancouver Island for a few days with my friend Pierre, we went for a hike in the forest around Mystic Beach. Pierre was hoping to see a bear, but I could feel their absence around us and I knew the one spot they would avoid in this forest during the day was the vicinity of this path.

    We eventually left, late in the evening after watching the sunset on another beach that was closer to the road, and drove back to Victoria, our minds filled with the quiet, whispering, friendly presence of the forest, and the deep breathing of the sea.

    Then suddenly we saw him crossing the road in the headlights, jumping into the ferns and bushes and disappearing into the night. It lasted for three seconds, but the bear remained “there” with us in the car: we had been introduced to his presence, he had manifested himself to us.

    Living in Quebec, Canada, I have other chances of coming across a Black Bear I guess, but for my friend, who lives in Paris, it was truly his one occasion. So then we knew that we had left at just the right moment, in time to come across this particular bear, whose silhouette is still imprinted in our retinas, a year later.

    For just as you say, Milla, “the spiritual, emotional meanings of our brushes against the wild already exist within us. That when we are spoken to, in this, a language older than words, we still understand it, even if we can no longer speak it.”

    Emmanuelle xx

  4. Oh, I have told this story a thousand times, but never with these beautiful words <3 Hali

  5. "sing your way through the thickets" :) xx