Into the wild. The European wild.
I’ve decided to gather a bunch of pictures and posts here from my recent Europe trip (thanks for your help Andrew Logan!!). If you enjoy reading them, please smile, comment, and share.
I did 2300 miles on an R1200GS Adventure motorcycle (an exact twin of my own at home), and many more by foot.
The trip was inspirational in many ways – as a naturalized American heading back to my native continent it was filled with nostalgia of course. But I’ve been in the USA for 18 years now, so my perspective has also changed a little. I was back there with wide-eyed wonder at the history, the architecture, the cultures, the food. Everything Rick Steve’s talks about. But I also avoided the cities. I was here for the WILD. And I found it. More than anything, I was inspired to find pockets of wilderness that were healthy enough for bears and wolves to call home.
Germany has 700 wolves now! Germany’s wolf guru Ulrich Wotschikowsky told me so as we poured over a map of Europe in wide-eyed amazement at the beginning of my trip (his site in German here: http://woelfeindeutschland.de). My journey from Germany, home to the now famous story of Bruno the bear (who was the country’s first bear in 180 years) took me through Austria, and to one of my main destinations, Italy. Here there are bears among the jagged, knife-like peaks of the Dolomites in Italy’s Alps. And even more surprising, there are bears just over an hour from Rome! How they have made it is mind-boggling. It’s ironic as the Romans played a big role in wiping them out from Britain where I’m from, but here on their doorstep, Europe’s “grizzlies” squeaked through. There are only about 40 of them left, but they are there. I had tears in my eyes as I rounded a mountain road on my bike to a view of Italy’s bear mountains for the first time. Amazing they have been able to patiently live their lives in a thumbnail of wildness as we surround them with humans and all they bring.
I was excited to find bear sign (scat, hair, rub tree bites) in both these ecosystems of Italy – and for those of you who’ve seen me around a pile of bear poop, you know I’m not exaggerating when I talk of getting giddy. The Alps just about finished me off on a few occasions though – my knees took a hammering on those relentless vertical slopes.
Over to Croatia – and even more surprises – including a bear population in a national park on the coast! This country boats around 1000 brown bears and is a really important source – a drip feed for other areas of Europe. Still though, they are hard to find. But I scored. Read on to find out more.
I was also really moved to discover a bear sanctuary in a little Croatian town where one man created a home for orphaned bears, AND young people from all over the world who are helping out there, and perhaps even discovering themselves in the process. It was one of the most moving moments of the trip, hanging with young people from Israel, France, Portugal, Romania, Croatia, and Slovenia for a spontaneous afternoon of bear talk. Here’s more about them: https://kuterevo.wordpress.com/bears/
OK, but I’m rambling – this was supposed to be a short intro – I will let you discover the rest for yourselves as I post these blogs over the coming days. THANK YOU for tuning in – we’re all in this together right?
Bellingham, WA, USA
June 30th, 2015
I’m on my way to Europe for a few cool things. Giving a talk about bears, wolves and tigers at BMW Motorrad Days in Germany. Should be some good laughs among 40,000 fellow bikers. Then heading into bear country in Italy and perhaps Croatia. Wow! Tracking wildlife and seeking incredible stories to tell through film. Did you know there are European Grizzlies an hour from Rome!!!!
July 1st, 2015
Just arrived in sunny #Munich. Here to quench my thirst on my dual life of wildlife and wild rides. First stop #BMWMotorraddays in #Garmisch #Partenkirchen, Bavaria, (gorgeous pic of the area from the web below). BMW Motorrad USA BMW Motorrad BMW Motorrad UK Touratech-USA Touratech And bears? “Bruno” – Germany’s first wild #bear in a long time got a lot of press in 2006, although a sad ending, he perhaps paved the way for others. More on him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_JJ1
Will be looking for these on my journey through Germany, Italy and perhaps Croatia. I took this one in Alaska. Big bears there around 1500 pounds. Big bears here in Europe maybe 600. #bear #grizzly #wilderness #BMWMotorrad #BMWMotorradDays #BMW
Stop me if you want me to draw a grizzly bear paw bike tattoo for you too. The #BEARTREK emblem! Chris #bear #grizzly #wilderness #motorcycle #wolf #BMWMotorrad #BMWMotorradDays #BMW #R1200GS #bikersofinstagram #bikelife #instamoto #adventure #onassignment #wildlife #planet #ChrisMorganWildlife #ecology #conservation
July 3rd, 2015
First View of the Alps!