One fall morning a few years ago near Misty Fjords National Monument in southern Alaska, a 51-year-old electrician from Michigan named Adrian Knopps laid down on a wet, grassy strip of land next to a fallen tree. With the exception of one 2-hour respite, this was the first time in seven days and nights that Knopps had been off his feet. It was also the furthest away he'd been from that tree in five days.
As Adrian Knopps lay down starving and exhausted—with thoughts of his wife and his two children fading in and out of his mind—he knew he might never again get up.
A week earlier, Adrian Knopps and his friend Garret Hagan, a 24-year-old native Alaskan, set out on a week-long hunting trip in an enclosed, seafaring fishing boat. A day later, they arrived at the mouth of a river in the Misty Fjords National Monument. That Sunday afternoon, the pristine forest greeted them with bright sun and 60-degree temperatures. It was a postcard moment with clear blue skies hanging above snow-capped mountains and lush forests stitched together by glacier-fed streams, all running down to meet the crisp saltwaters of the North Pacific.
After anchoring the boat in the harbor, Hagan and Knopps climbed into a small flat-bottomed skiff designed for river travel. It wasn't long before Hagan sacked their first bear just a mile down river. Both avid hunters, Hagan and Knopps ...