The long-awaited (by my children) National Geographic cover story on the Spirit Bear of British Columbia finally hits the stands this month--and it's a thing of beauty. I provided the words for the two main features on the bear and its lair, but Paul Nicklen's photos are the real glory of the issue. I've had the good fortune to work with Paul on two NG features now (check out his work, with my words, on Svalbard in NG a couple years ago), and it's always a thrill to open up that early proof and see what he's come up with. Paul and I got lucky with this piece--when we first went up to the Great Bear Rainforest two years ago, an abundant pink salmon spawning season lured the bears down to the rivermouths. Our bear guides, Marven Robinson and Doug Neasloss, knew where to lead us and proved to be wonderful companions on the trail. (You can reach Marven through King Pacific Lodge, and Doug at his website, dougneasloss.com.) National Geographic cover stories aren't often controversial, but this one is kicking up a bit of dust in Canada, where the Northern Gateway pipeline, a proposed pipeline that would bring oil tankers into the heart of the Spirit Bear's homeland, is the object of heated debate.