Forest Bathing International Magazine, Issue 1 - Page 28

I. I found out when I arrived to go bear tracking with Preston that it was his birthday. Excited, I proclaimed right then that “I was going to find him a birthday bear!”

We drove the coastal highway stopping at likely spots to investigate for fresh sign. Eventually we pulled off and walked down

a paved forest road to a bridge over the outlet of a wide wetland meadow. They say good things happen at the edges and we were at

the edge of river and wetland, a meadow

and a forest, the sun and the shade.

Standing on the bridge we examined the tall wetland grasses and noticed a wide trail punctuated by deep marks in the mud where

a heavy animal had passed. Was it an elk or

a bear? We found our way out into the wet meadow to get a closer look at the trail.

The tracks were deep and fresh and most certainly bear. All the digits and pads registered clearly and the tracks were ringed with the marks of thick fur as it swept the edges moving in and out of the deep mud.

It looked big and we concluded from the tracks it was a male, maybe 400 pounds or more. We decided to follow him.

The second toe from the outside (toe four in tracking terms) on his left front foot was held aloft, and often did not register in the tracks as if some current pain or old injury kept the toe in this guarded position. I empathized with the damaged toe, since I was still in recovery from an enduring and painful injury to my left foot…I was also limping along.

We backtracked briefly to examine his meanderings through the wet meadow and then followed the trail forward. He took us under the bridge and down along the river outlet that drained the meadow. On this side of the access road an alder forest grows with deep standing water, and the woodland is thick with skunk cabbage plants. The bear took us right through them.

Forest Dream

by Caitlin C. Williams

Forest Dream

by Caitlin C. Williams