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From my journal: “As I sit to write this, a grizzly bear has taken up residence as our neighbor, separated only by a shallow braided river and 300 yards of foot, or paw, distance. Govi, somewhat unconcerned after regularly seeing bears for two days now, is busy cooking over a fire. For its part, the griz hasn’t yet noticed us. Or perhaps it has, and could care less.”

The arrival of a grizzly at dinner should have come as no surprise. On our first scan of the place we would dub “valley of the bears,” I spotted a bear steadily marching down the middle of the wide green boulevard. Once past, we continued. Pausing at the next rise to see if the coast was clear, we found it wasn’t. A white-headed grizzly lolled along, a half-mile away. When it came across a snowmelt puddle amidst the green expanse, it took a cooling dip, shaking like a dog afterward.
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“Now, as shadows fall on our valley, the bruin has apparently had enough, because it has hunkered down for a nap. I wish we could. A greater nagging concern is our schedule. We have been behind from the start. We’re pushing hard, and tonight we’re cooked, again. Will we make up time tomorrow? With the crossing of the Brooks Range before us, it promises to be a slow and difficult morning. Will we launch on the Kukpowruk soon? Will there be ice portages? There are many unknowns, and they don’t even include the grizzly bear, snoozing away just a 3-iron shot from camp.”

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