Denali National Park Residency

I’m very pleased to have been selected as the Denali National Park Artist in Residence for August 2013.

More than a mountain

Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America’s tallest peak, 20,320′ Mount McKinley. Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await.

Also, perhaps some bear wrangling:

“If You Encounter A Bear
Do not run. Bears can run faster than 30 mph (50 km/h), even faster than Olympic sprinters. Running is likely to elicit a predatory chase response from an otherwise non-aggressive bear. If the bear is unaware of you, detour away from it. Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue itsownactivitiesundisturbed. If the bear is aware of you but has not acted aggressively, back away slowly while keeping an eye on the bear, talk in a calm, firm voice while slowly waving your arms above your head. These actions will help the bear confirm that you are a human and not a prey animal. Grizzly bears do not normally prey on humans. A bear that stands up on its hind legs is not acting aggressively, but is curious and is trying to identify you. Help it out by following the above guidelines. Scientific evidence clearly indicates that when given the opportunity most bears will avoid humans.

• If A Bear Approaches or Charges You
Do not run: do not drop your pack. A pack can help protect your body in case of an attack. Dropping a pack may encourage the bear to approach humans for food in the future. Most charges are bluffs, sometimes coming to within 10 feet (3 meters) of a person before stopping or veering off. Stand still until the bear stops and has moved away, then slowly back off. Due to the small size of the trees in the sub-arctic, climbing a tree may not provide protection.

• If A Grizzly Bear Attacks
The grizzly’s ferocious reputation arises largely from the fact that a female grizzly will aggressively defend her young. Most attacks are defensive; therefore, if a grizzly bear does actually make contact with you, drop to the ground and play dead. However, do not play dead before contact is imminent, as it may elicit a curious approach from the bear. Leave your pack on and put your arms around the back of your head and neck for protection. The majority of charges are from female grizzlies protecting their young. By playing dead you will neutralize the threat that you represent to the bear’s cubs. However, if the attack is prolonged, fight back vigorously because the bear may be preying on you.

At what point does one decide?

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