Brutus the BearMidnight found me standing on a steep riverbank with a great friend, gazing into the endless sky above. A bat fluttered in the darkness and we both jumped, nearly dropping our cameras in the inky water. Our embarrassed laughter quickly turned to awed silence as pale green and purple streaks painted the heavens. For hours we lost ourselves in the auroras rolling and spinning amongst the stars. Dawn slowly crept from behind the mountains, breaking the night’s spell. The early summer sun broke the horizon and bathed us in light. I hurriedly packed up my tripod, sipped cold coffee, and headed off down the dusty dirt road to my very first day of work at VisionHawk.


I soon realized that the spectacular happens on a daily basis when you work with Casey Anderson. I’ll never forget that exquisite night with the northern lights, but it quickly became just one of many amazing experiences that marked the beginning of my journey with VisionHawk.


The deep darkness just before dawn seems to be a constant companion when you’re courting the extraordinary, and only a few weeks later I found myself once again shivering in the quiet chill that precedes sunrise. Just one in a long line of 4-wheel-drive trucks bumping and bouncing across a meadow, I was about to meet Casey’s ursine charge, Brutus the Bear. Tall grasses thudded against my truck’s belly and my headlights were swallowed by the vastness of the landscape. By the time we reached our destination, delicate shades of pink and orange tickled the clouds. Groups of sweater-clad people piled out of the trucks and scattered across the hillside to prepare for the day. Finally, just as the sun climbed above the trees and the baby blue sky erupted in brilliant color, out stepped 900 pounds of excited grizzly bear.


Now, I’ve seen grizzlies before. I’ve watched them frolic and forage in Yellowstone. I’ve stood in awe of them as they wandered across Denali’s rolling foothills. But nothing compared to that July morning with Brutus. In a whirlwind of chocolaty fur, he galloped across the hillside time and again, only pausing to flatten the poor little pine trees in his path. As our cameras rolled, the mighty titan finally wore himself out and settled down in a patch of daisies only a few feet away from me. His trusting gaze and smiling lips pulled me in. It was easy to imagine Brutus as the tiny, defenseless cub Casey rescued so many years ago. But all it took was one glance at his four-inch claws effortlessly digging great heaps of sod from the earth to remind me that grizzlies were never meant to live among humans.


Unbelievably, as the sun rose higher and a squall moved through the valley, Brutus slowly climbed to the top of the ridge and a rainbow appeared. With the great bear drenched in brilliant hues and everyone around me laughing in delight, I knew I’d found my place.

~ Annie ~
Creative/Development Producer for VisionHawk