Angel’s hooves stay planted, but I feel the question in his back, the offer to spin and gallop. I hold firm in my seat, knees forward, signaling to my horse that we should not move. He trusts me and squares his stance.

Ahead of me, framed by Angel’s ears, I see a bear crossing the path a few dozen feet away. The bear is fast as it lumbers, chuffing, footfalls impossibly silent, its cinnamon bulk parting the fescue and buffalo grass. Here in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains the scattered human population shares space with some formidable wild inhabitants.