Mountain Sides

Allen O’Bannon heads into Atigun Gorge in the Brooks Range of Alaska, where unexpected animal encounters add an edge to the feeling of being in the wilderness.

I was nervous.

We were in thick willows, pushing aside branches and clambering over twisted limbs, trying to make our way upriver. Our visibility was limited to about 5 feet in front of us. Everything else was a tangle of low trees with no open path, and we’d just seen fresh grizzly bear tracks on a sandbar.

Molly Absolon writes every other week. Contact her via columnists@

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