Only the biggest, strongest male grizzly bears will wade into the red salmon river today. The icy water splashes over the chest of one of the oldest warrior grizzlies in the valley. His piercing eyes stare into the white foam dancing along the river's current. He carefully places one massive paw above the waterline, stoically waiting for his next slippery salmon to appear.
The other grizzlies keep their distance as they know this old-timer has fought more battles than most. No one knows where he came from or how he collected all those scars, but his stride is long and purposeful and his huge head bobs and sways back and forth as he moves. Only the lazy circles of a golden eagle far above him give away his secret as the legends tell us that only king grizzlies travel with that royal companion. A sockeye salmon springs out from the froth and as razor sharp claws smash into its flesh, a perfectly-timed bite along its back ends the wriggling salmon's journey.
The old grizzly glances up and down the river, and all the other grizzlies wait and watch as the huge brown beast saunters into the willows to feed. The other bears relax as it is now once again safe to hunt along the water's edge.
One bear stands and sniffs the air wondering if he could find the courage to follow a grizzly like that into the dark. He dreams of what he could learn and see if he dared trail a grand grizzly into the wilderness. He pauses and steadies himself as he takes one last look up and down the shoreline at frightened bears nervously waiting for their salmon to appear.
The young bear decides he can no longer live in fear and boldly shoulders his way into the cool moist brush. The tall willows happily lean over inviting him to take his next step into a new world.