BEAR ENOUGH

A wonderful day of bear encounters of the best kind.  I have been pumped up all day, exciting stuff.

This morning I followed the forestry workers to the trailhead leading to Anan falls.  I checked in, handed over my permit and received the safety briefing.  Then I headed up the trail, I was a bit nervous, my friends at Rayme’s Bar in Wrangell had filled my head with Anan bear encounter stories.  About 200 meters along the trail I came across a steaming mound of bear shit.  Mmmm, recent, must be close by.  With heightened awareness I continued on, singing, to frighten off any bears.

Truce at Anan Bay Photo Ray Penson jpg
Truce at Anan Bay Photo Ray Penson

I reached to lookout position about a kilometre further without seeing any bears on the trail.  The falls lead from a seawater lagoon; hundreds of salmon can be seen below the falls waiting to attempt the climb.  The salmon are far larger than I expected.  At the falls I watched a big brown bear catch a large salmon, take it to a small cave to devour it, starting at the head and working towards the tail.  The same bear came back later and repeated the trick.

The bears come and go at the falls and just seem to appear from nowhere and melt back into the forest.  They have an amazing ability to move up, down and across the most difficult terrain, proper 4WD creatures.  Later in the morning a mother appeared with two cubs, this was a most fascinating show.  The mother bear caught a salmon and shared it with the cubs, lots of interaction.  It was almost like being in a zoo, but this was the wild.  Very happy to have witnessed this spectacle.  Worth the $16 dollars permit fee.

Having got carried away with watching bears I completely forgot about the incoming tide and the pig.  With five metre plus tides at the moment tying up the dinghy to the shore is an art.  I arrived to find the pig happily floating, some distance out.  I waded out, up to my neck in Alaskan water and retrieved it.  The water was quite cool and a hot cup of tea was needed to restore circulation.

Later, as I was heading down Seaward Passage I saw something swimming in the water, first I thought it was a deer, then a moose – but it was a Brown Bear.  This guy was swimming across a channel over half a mile wide!   I did a quick circle around him and took a video.  Then I moved on as he was obviously quite frightened by the boat and swimming away at a great rate.  I feel so lucky to have encountered a swimming Grizzly.

This evening I am anchored in Vixen harbour.  Quite a narrow shallow entrance to traverse then opens up into a nice sheltered anchorage.  It’s been a long and interesting day.  I will sleep well this evening.

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