Visiting the bears
Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
257Trip End Jan 31, 2012
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Where I stayed
Found my way to the local chuch hostel though hostel may not be quite the right word. The place was nice enough with its kitchen and dining room but it had no beds in the rooms. Only mattresses on the floor. While I might expect something like this in Japan its not something you would expect in the US. Also while I wasnt able to access the WIFI of the hostel, I was luckty enough to find a WIFI signal that was not password protected so was able to access interent while in the hostel room. A definate bonus.
After getting rid of my bags decided to try and arrange a tour to Anan Creek to visit the bears there. Out of all the bear viewing options I had for my time in Alsask this was my cheapest. Unfortunately the operator I had originally planned to go with did not have any tours going before I had to leave Wrangell
Decided to do a bit of shopping at the grocery store before heading down to Petroglypth beach. While I did not find many rocks with Petroglypths on them and the ones I did find were pretty faded, it was still a nice walk along the islands coastline. Even saw a couple of bold eagales flying overhead.
Headed back into town to visit the local museum which describes the history of the town and its native population before heading to Shakes Island to visit the chiefs lodge and totem poles located there as well as wandering around the harbour to Shakes Graveyard.
Wrangell - Day 2
Early start to visit the bears. Took a 1hr jet boat trip to Anan Creek. Saw some bald eagles, seals and a very large flock of ducks on the way. At the entrance we were basically told to leave all food behind and only take water. I left my backpack on the boat and silly me, also my camera case
The creek location itself is a nice enough area for a walk with lots of beers and bald eagle. Walking up to the observation deck involved passing a nice lagoon and fortunately (or maybe unfortunatley) no bears on the trail. Lots of salmon in the stream though. So many that the water appeared balck rather than the lear colour it was.
Got to the observation deck but no bears for the first couple of minutes. Finally saw a black bear under the falls pop out of a cave to get some fish. Appears that some bears a better fishermen than other and that those that cant fish tend to steal the leftovers. Appears that bears that can fish aim to maximise fat/protien collection and that this is done by eating the heads or catching females that have eggs. After eating the choice parts they discard the rest of the fish which either rots, gets picked up by other bears, eagles, seagulls or animals of fortune.
Observation deck was elevated off the ground and had a wooden, waist high fence around it. On a number of occasions the bears were less than a couple of meters away from the railing or directly under the obervation deck allowing you to be pretty close to the bears.
Observation deck also had a blind that took you closer to the river but found that when I went in it not much was happening
Also while I saw a number of bears catching fish, none of the fish were jumping through the air into the bears mouths as I know is the case in one of the National parks further north. Either its the wrong species of salmon to see this or maybe its some other reason. Anyways, the bears I saw basically swatted at the fish a few times and ended up catching one with their jaws. I assume the swatting was to stun a fish though it may have been for some other reason.
Also interesting to observe some of the bear behaviour. For example two bears were taking dead fish from rocks and then going into holes in the rocks and in one case, while two bears were by the river another, more dominant bear, appeared and one of the two bears took off. It first basically peeked at the new beer from behind a rock and then took off up the hill. Saw this happen a couple of times where the appearance of a new bear cause the bears around the place to hide in holes or take off.
Another interesting behaviour was that of a smaller female bear. Basically after catching a fish she would climb a tree near the observation deck to eat the fish. Guess by climbing the tree its harder for a bigger bear to come and steal her food. A nice side effect of this behaviour was that the tree wasnt to far from the observation deck and so you had a good view of her eating the fish up the tree.
After about 3hrs headed back to the boat and then back to town where I did some shopping and once again cooked dinner. Chatted with a guy at the hostel who was hitching up the coast from San Diego to Alaska and spending most of his nights sleeping in a hamock. Appears he manages real estate and so can take off when he likes since most of his work occurs over the phone.