Near Telluride, Co. If you have ever lived in a large metro area like New York City you understand the concept of anonymity. You walk down 42nd Street encountering thousands of people and you don’t know anyone. You are like an ant in an anthill.
In some ways anonymity inspires courage. You find strength in your independence and ability to manage life on your own. Perhaps this conceived courage is due to familiarity. I started visiting NYC at a young age and always feel energized when I visit.
I now find myself traipsing through remote areas that house bear and mountain lions, but I can’t say I feel courageous. There is always a tug in the back of my mind that goes over the possible scene if I encounter a wild animal – like a bear. Will I throw my arms up in the air and yell to put off the bear, will I run like hell, or will I curl up in a ball and be submissive? Most of the time we are best off to back off as quietly as possible because the bear doesn’t really want to have anything to do with us since we are not prey. With mountain lions, it’s a different story. Read The Beast in the Garden if you want a really great book about mountain lions and humans.
At both the Strawberry River in Utah and earlier this week at a tributary of the Dolores in Colorado I found myself in spots where bear and mountain lions roam freely. I did feel anonymous in the sense that I am certainly not recognizable by the environment in which I found myself, but I didn’t feel anonymous in the sense of lacking individuality. I felt courageous that I had put aside my fears and hiked into the wilderness on my hunt for brook trout.
I didn’t grow up out in the woods so perhaps I would have been more courageous if I had, but I’m grateful to be so comfortable in cities and am working hard at achieving this same level of comfort in the mountains.