Running Bear (Part 1)
There is, of course, a story behind this photo!
In 2010 I went to Alaska on a bear "shooting" trip. The only guns I carried were my camera and a number of lenses. I was part of a group of friends that included a bear expert to a secluded, "secret" place, to mingle with and photograph bears.
WHOA! Mingle with??? Ahem, well, more about that later.
We set off from Calgary on a BIG Jet and ended up in Alaska. From the airport there, the next morning, we took a small plane (gulp) to a secluded spot - a village with a permanent population of 50 people. Here's a shot of our plane landing....
I'm not sure which was older - the plane or the guy waiting for us. riding in this plane was an adventure. The pilot was so tall that he flew with his door slightly ajar so he could fit into the pilot's seat (knee hanging out the door!). The plane, open door and all, was very noisy and we had to wear ear plugs.
I know you are thinking to yourself "Pshaw! how could he take photograph of the plane he was flying in - landing?" The answer, of course, is a secret! After all, this is ALL about photography, where secrecy abounds!!
Once on the ground, our baggage was picked up and loaded onto a boat to be taken to a nearby cove and unloaded onto the beach (it's true, honest!). We scoped out the town. Three seconds later, we'd seen it all! It's an old place with one main street - a gravel road wide enough for two ATVs to pass each other. That was the mode of transport, quads! Of course, if you didn't own a quad, you either biked or walked.
There was a public hot spring (no clothes allowed) with times posted when females were allowed in and when males were allowed in. No, the times never overlapped. Gender equality is a thing in the future for this place!
We hiked up a long pathway through a forest. The path was a couple of feet wide, muddy and overgrown with gnarled tree roots waiting to trip you up and send you and your gear sprawling into a mud bath. I think the walk was about twenty Kilometers (many, many miles to those of you who are still imperial). As it turned out, the walk was only (only!) two kilometers, all of it uphill! Well, I'm not used to hiking!
We finally got to our palatial quarters for the next eight days. A three room cabinet, ha! Freudian slip! I meant to say cabin! No running water and no electricity - (no, the toilet was NOT one of those rooms!). Primitive, pioneering, roughing it, trail blazing. All words that utterly fail to describe our new home. We retrieved our baggage from where it had been dropped off at the beach then hauled it up to the cabin.
There were two bedrooms at the back (room for 5 of us to sleep) and one larger main room at the front of the cabin where our expert, his girlfriend and young daughter slept. The main room, as well as being a bedroom, was also the living room, kitchen and dining room. So, where the hey is the toilet? Well, you walk down the path - there - and as you turn the corner, you will see the toilets.
YES!!!!! A double banger!! Just what we needed to set the right tone for our trip!
The Intrepid Explorers!
Now, to be fair, the view was astonishing. The bathroom window opened out to the beach and the ocean in front of us! We could watch ships and wildlife stroll by! OH! Was that the flash of binoculars????
Now, you've all heard the question - "Does a bear s*it in the woods?". The answer is, well, yes! and, so do the photographers!!!!
We ate dinner that evening. Salmon (yech!, eww or other words expressing disgust!). I settled for two fried eggs! There was a lot of chocolate being consumed as well. (I soon found out that that was because we were going to need the energy!).
The next morning we set out to go see the bears. Wash? Clean teeth? No running water? Well, (ha ha) There was a fresh water stream (up stream from the palatial loo) and we had to go and fill buckets with enough water for us to ablute in.
We rode a boat for a long time to arrive at the 'Bears' Den'. Then we walked for another very, very long time. Up the estuary.... mud flats, water holes, spiky grass, slime, rocks and many other impediments! Finally we saw some grizzly bears! Yes, bears, plural. Lots of them in fact! They were not too concerned about us. Reno (the expert) -
explained to us how to behave when in the vicinity of bears. Interestingly he said that the Alaska Grizzlies were more curious than aggressive. This is due to the fact that their foraging area for food is very small. They are fish eaters and hang around the estuaries feeding on the multitude of salmon to be found there. The grizzlies in Alberta are opportunity eaters but mainly berry eaters and have to forage over many square miles to get enough food. Because of this, they are more aggressive than curious.
We were instructed to keep fairly close to each other so as not to appear too threatening and that we could make as much noise as we wanted but NOT to talk. There was an awful lot of whispering going on!
To Be Continued........
it sound like a great adventure, I can hardly wait to read the next blog!
This promises to be a very interesting story ... Adventure Holiday indeed!
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