I'd come to Yellowstone for just the sense of awe I was beginning to feel, what Thoreau called "the tonic of wilderness." That tonic was already starting to cure my New York City-induced nature deficit disorder, blotting from my consciousness screeching F trains, drop-dead deadlines and fickle WiFi connections. But Jason wasn't impressed. "Too much prey around here," he said. "Let's find some predators."
We left the bright valley and drove into Lamar's darker side, a splinter canyon of thick forest.
… But after several hours of hiking, I'd forgotten about bears and sprays. I'd even forgotten about the two bottles of beer that Jason had concealed among rocks in the icy stream at the trailhead, promising those cold ones as our reward if we came back alive. I'd forgotten all this in my wonder at what was around me, the day hikers far behind us, nothing but wild open country spread out ahead. As we forded a river beneath a jagged granite escarpment and dropped into a meadow of wildflowers, I mulled something environmentalist Aldo Leopold once said: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."