I really wanted to read this book, my second on the subject, but was really disappointed in the style of Rick Bass, who seemed to just meander around in the woods with a group of misfits--a former medic from Vietnam turned mountain man who was unable to interact normally around people, etc., etc. Then, out of the blue, wandering around as he does, babbling about how nature is disappearing, he has an "encounter" with what he thinks is a grizzly.
Going backcountry with grizzly expert Doug Peacock and biologist Dennis Sizemore, Bass makes three trips into The San Juan Mountains to search for tracks, claw marks and scat. The Lost Grizzlies is as much about Rick and his erstwhile collection of buddies, including the singular Peacock character, as it is about the actual search. Bass believes there are bears. Finally, on a solo hike at a high elevation, comes the encounter that we have waited for and Bass believes and makes us believe, too. Bass is sure he saw a grizzly.
But then: think about the books where you want to try. I didnt spend as much time reading this as Rick Bass did writing it. (If Id happened to leapfrog this book in front of the other, I would have read Barry Lopez via Rick Bass too.
Bass goes gaga for Peacock the first however many hundred pages, and they all just look like dumbasses in the woods, with their land ethic that mostly amounts to "let's get drunk and stomp through the woods looking for bear shit," and "we should be here, but no one else should, because they'll ruin this land in ways that we won't." I don't get the love for Peacock here (he seems to be an Abbey disciple that somehow comes off as maybe even more of an ass...), nor do I care for the junk show shenanigans, but I do get the idea of wanting wild places to stay distant, aloof, untouched.
Lire Bass, pour moi, c'est une question d'humeur et d'attentes. Sur son terrain, Bass sait parler de magie et de mystère plus poétiquement, avec un il presque naïf et émerveillé qui contre-balance sa conscience du constat terrifiant de la nature écrasée par anthropocentrisme, l'existence du tout au service de l'homme... Loin d'être absents de ce tome, magie et mystère viennent s'y tisser progressivement pour apparaître plus clairement dans la troisième et dernière partie. À travers la première partie surtout, on se joint à l'équipée sauvage et rocambolesque de trois hommes dans les San Juan Mountains du Colorado, à la recherche des mythiques grizzlis. La deuxième partie est un peu moins drôle mais annonce la troisième, où la magie prend une place plus importante. Bass oscille entre doute et rêve, on voit encore une fois la dualité de sa réflexion (comme cette histoire de plein de bois pour l'hiver dans Winter), sa certitude que la magie de la montagne existe bel et bien et à travers elle, les insaisissables grizzlis, au cur du mystère, et son esprit plus scientifique qui lui refuse presque de croire entièrement à ce qu'il entrevoit. Et on apprécie sa réflexion sur le changement des mentalités, l'importance non pas de trouver une ligne complètement nouvelle mais de ne rien oublier, de reconstruire sur le savoir qui est déjà là, sur l'interconnexion, cette fois de l'homme et son environnement naturel, pas de décontextualisation, réciprocité.
For a nonfiction book about searching for bears in the wilderness, the author certainly does spend a lot of time talking about the people he's with and what life with them is like. Well the authors didn't get out of their car, but they did dump some beer cans out of the door onto the guys land. The author makes a huge point of saying how much the guys respected nature, but then they go and dump some beer cans on the ground right at the start of their trip. I just couldn't get into the authors writing style and found myself disliking all of the characters.
Its kind of a book about discovery and people with different ideas but one common goal, to see a grizzly bear. Each describes a trip that he takes out to the San Juan Mountains in Colorado to determine if there are still Grizzly Bears in the area. His descriptions of the other people are fair, but I think he does tend to over-characterize them a bit. And I do think he did a favor for the bears of San Juan Mountains; he makes them mysterious which in turn makes them more special and could even help their cause as people fall in love with their story.
He was apparently one of Edward Abbey's closest friends, which maybe matters to the story and maybe doesn't at all, but what does matter is that Peacock himself is essential to this particular grizzly narrative, because he is essential to Bass' development as a grizzly-reverer and champion of the San Juans.
Bass's prose mirrors the winding pursuit to answer definitively the question of the grizzly bears existence in the San Juan Mountains. A common theme in the book appears in another way when he mentions man's ability to locate gas and oil, an incredible feat in its own right, but the exact conditions right for harvesting Chanterelle mushrooms eludes us.
He serves on the board of both the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies and continues to live with his family on a ranch in Montana, actively engaged in saving the American wilderness.