Mark landed the Beaver perfectly on the small lake near the Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. As the six of us climbed out onto the plane’s floats, the scene was idyllic. Everything was perfectly still. The snow capped Alaskan mountains provided the backdrop to a lake surrounded by pines and dressed with large water lilies. For us, everything was new. While everyone was moderately tired, there was a tangible sense of wonder rippling through the group.
Drew arrived in a small boat with hip boots for everyone. We headed for shore, stepping out into the soggy marsh at the lake’s edge with a growing sense of anticipation. What was going to happen? When were we going to experience what we had come for?
We had missed the normal time to go exploring. Lunch was still an hour away. As Jen, our guide, introduced herself, the unasked question was finally in the open.
“Do you want to rest? Alternatively, we can take a quick trip and see if we can find some bears.”
The response was instant and uniform. “Let’s go.”
There was no hesitation. There were no concerns. The opening was here and we seized it with both hands! In an old story, a wisdom father responded to an opening in the same way. “Paul then went straight to the meeting place. He had the run of the place for three months, doing his best to make the things of the kingdom of God real and convincing to them.” (Acts 19.8)
In our case, we found perfect weather, wonderful sun, and bears and more bears!
Looking back on the trip, I wonder what it would have been like if we had rested or taken the easy way out. I have no idea what would have unfolded. I do have a series of intense memories that came from that first hour. I see bears out in golden grasses. I recall mothers and cubs, eating, fighting, and living. I see salmon running the rivers. It is an amazing scene. Each memory seems almost imaginary. Almost, but we were there.