THE LOST GRIZZLIES: A Search for Survivors in the Wilderness of Colorado by Rick Bass

THE LOST GRIZZLIES: A Search for Survivors in the Wilderness of Colorado

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Does the grizzly still have a toehold in southern Colorado? In this season's second look at Ursus horribilis (after David Petersen's Ghost Grizzlies, p. 760), Bass ventures from his northern Montana home to investigate and returns with this utterly readable song of praise for the big bear and the great wild lands that may harbor it. Doug Peacock, noted grizzly aficionado, invites Bass (In the Loyal Mountains, p. 570, etc.) to the San Juan Mountains to chase after rumors of bear sightings: Could a few renegade bands, even a cluster of adapted individuals, still survive in a wilderness where they hadn't been confirmed for a couple of decades? Bass hopes so: ""There is a place in our hearts for them . . . it is possible they still exist, if only to fill that space of longing."" Peacock and Bass find a footprint, then some dung-encrusted hair fibers; they even--perhaps--catch a glimpse. Just as importantly, this is a chance for Bass to ruminate on the loss of untouched land, ""the shrinking wild habitat of the soul."" Throughout, there is sparkling stuff on the sacredness of the land, on premonitions that may swarm upon one when entering a landscape, on the value of humility when griz is the object of desire. Yet strangely, for all its deliberateness, there is a muffled tone to the writing, as if there were more batting than ink in the pen, and--for an enthralling account--there are too many instances of tired thinking (""Do we really need another ski resort, another road?""), insipidness (""Hard stars glittered by the millions, each one possessing the brightness of soul of a person who lived before us""), and place-name-dropping (""I remember a fried chicken I had in Costa Rica""). Irksome, at times, but beautifully rendered and captivating.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin