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.

LINGERING IN WRANGELL

This morning I decided to stay a couple of extra days in Wrangell.  It’s a friendly little place so it’s no chore to linger a while longer.  I also want to get a couple of stainless bits made up for the boat for an autopilot modification I want to try out.  The handy engineer guy here is very good, I don’t expect to get better elsewhere so it makes sense to get the job done here.

Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson
Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson

Today in have been trying my hand at fairing in the shaft strut using epoxy filler.  I am not the most skilful in this sector, the result so far looks very amateurish.  I am hoping that by tomorrow the filler will have set rock hard to allow me to sand it into a fairer hydrodynamic shape.

This afternoon I managed to get some fresh lemon from a lady selling organic produce.  Part of it is now floating around in a rum and coke – got to get vitamins somehow.

I went for a walk around town, literally around the outside of the town.  People kept stopping their trucks asking if I wanted a lift.  I have noticed that people don’t tend to walk to places in Alaska.  Some of the houses here have well-kept gardens, you don’t see much of that in Alaska, at least not the parts I have been to.

I am scheduling to launch Truce back into the water on Wednesday morning.  The plan is then to resume the voyage southward down the inside passage and stop off at Anan Creak to see bears catching and feeding on Salmon.  One of the guys here told me there are so many salmon running up the stream that both Brown and Black bears come to fish at the same place.

Anan Bears here I come.