62°12'15.3"N 13°41'09.8"E Mid-west Sweden 
 
Sun setting over the Sonfjällets national park, wind blowing gently in my face, mountain below my feet like a platform lifting me to the stars. The Celestron wildlife scope gazing out in the direction of a dream come true. 
 
The day I saw a bear. 
I am an adventurer. I look for the story in everyday and have had the great and the ugly experiences, though both equally as memorable. 
 
It’s the natural world that captivates me, I take every opportunity to immerse myself in the nature; I have always been an outdoor child, my mother’s washing machine and carpet would attest! Even when I was very young something about the trees was welcoming. I joined scouting aged 8. I was involved for 13 years, growing from a cub to becoming a cub leader, all the while learning skills and sharing stories, but most of all meeting people and friends. 
 
Joining scouting was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life, the list of adventures I have had is massive and the skills I learnt to make them possible is even longer. I have been lucky enough to do a few international camps and expeditions; the first time I went to Sweden, the country where this photo is taken, was in 2011 for the 21st World Scout Jamboree. An international camp of more than 40,000 people from 180 countries! This was a massive camp, by far the biggest event I have ever been to. But even in all the noise and hustle and bustle of 40,000 excited scouts there were still moments of great peace, sharing food and stories with people from the other side of the world. I think stories are incredibly important, even a small, insignificant detail in our minds is a massive new concept for someone else and stories, like those shared around those fires in Sweden are the lineage of that learning and sharing, making the world ever closer and more colourful. 
 
I fell in love with Sweden in that three weeks, it is difficult to know a place when the whole world comes to visit but we had time at a quieter campsite nearby where we could experience Swedish camping. I knew I would be back, but not for a little while. The next big adventure was my explorer belt challenge, a ten-day expedition in Madagascar in 2013. 
 
We were in Madagascar for almost a month, but 10 days of that we were doing an expedition; small teams of four English and two Malagasy scouts going town to town, meeting mayors and scout leaders, teaching school children basic hygiene and how to wash hands using tipi taps and bartering for our food at the local markets. It was not without its struggles, I learnt a lot about the world, going into a town and being a minority race, in some cases the first white person these people had seen, was very eye opening. Seeing the inquisitive eyes of young children who you can see are wondering “what” you are, but then so happy they drag you undeterred into their games, I felt truly included in the world, their world, a world I did not know. 
 
As well as the expedition we also did some conservation work, planting trees in a nature reserve to help preserve the rainforest from the constant deforestation. Here we saw lemurs, endemic to Madagascar and at massive risk from deforestation, a population of serious conservation concern. 
 
2014 I started university, studying Wildlife Conservation. The nature has always been my first love and joy and I had chosen to spend my education learning about it and learning how to protect it. I have gained experience in surveying animals, it is one of my favourite hobbies to go out and find tracks or signs of mammals that have been moving in the night. Mammals are a particular fascination of mine, a lot of my research and work is around mammal behaviour and I really like the predators. So I decided in the summer of my 3rd year at university to go to Sweden to experience wild Sweden and hopefully see bears! This was my first “solo” adventure; before I had always gone with groups or at least some people I knew but this time I was flying alone and meeting people en-route, which in itself was a big change for me. 
 
Sweden was a two-week trip, within hours of arriving at the lodge we stayed in I had seen reindeer and beavers, it really was wild, peaceful and beautiful. 
It was day 10 when we ascended to a high spot overlooking a valley it was there, standing there, atop the mountain looking out over some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen, watching and waiting for something to move, surveying, having planned, after researching and waiting, we saw what we came to see, the legendary brown bear Ursus arctos. 
 
My blog account for the day reads: 
 
“There she was, hidden behind a bush slightly; then she stepped out and looked right across the valley… straight at me! I could see it all, the long snout covered in blue berry juice, the round soft fur covering her ears highlighted by the sun like mini halos, her twinkling dark eyes…" 
 
“It was magical, to be in connected with such a fine beast, a true predatory queen and a survivor from the forest.” 
 
This is the world I love; it is a beautiful world filled with beautiful creatures. I strive to protect this world. 
 
What does this photo mean to me? It’s the time I went beyond my comfort zone to strive and reach for the connection with nature I wanted… and I made it. 
 
This is my work, this is my life, I love it! 
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