‘If the bear runs at you, remember he isn’t really running at you. He is running at the fish’, our guide Lance told our group as we sat quietly next to the creek where a grizzly was fishing. One hulking old bear had recently dug himself a snooze home and was busy sleeping off his feed further up the creek. We had just come from the beach where we had watched two young males sparring and duelling like boxers. Magic magic magic. It felt both surreal and very real to have a little window into the world of these coastal bears, watching, listening and learning. I have always loved BBC Natural History Unit films but this was high definition and more, definitely Top 5 moment of the entire journey.
Last week Justine and I were lucky enough to stay two days at the Hallo Bay Bear Camp in Katmai National Park, enjoying the company (our first in two weeks), delicious food, time and space to relax and recharge and some incredible hours watching brown bears fishing, playing and sleeping. We learned how to behave around this ‘ unspoilt ‘ population of Katmai bears, unique in their temperament and behaviour around humans as they have never been hunted or associated people with food. And hence the bears go about their beary business with no more than a casual glance at the small groups of tourists, photographers or film crews that perch unobtrusively stage right or left to watch. A huge thank you to the staff at Hallo Bay Bear Camp for the warm welcome and support.
A few days before Hallo Bay I had an encounter with a brown bear while I was washing in a small river. I giggled as tiny trout nibbled my toes and was just rinsing soap off when I looked up to see a shape coming up the river towards me. It wasn’t Justine but a brown bear. Absolutely the most exciting wash of my life.
The headwinds continue to make flee slow progress, keeping us on shore more days than we would like. Right now we are waiting out some bad weather on Hogg Island in Blue Fox Bay with a lovely high – spirited couple who run a rustic, eccentric lodge out here. We arrived yesterday and the only ones home were the dogs. Happily, Colleen and Jerry arrived home thirty minutes later, just returning from one of their resupply trips in Kodiak 80 miles away. We are less than 100 miles from our finish in Homer though the weather isn’t looking good for the feisty crossings to the Barren Islands and on to the Cook Inlet. So for now we are enjoying sleeping, eating, taking steam baths and sea dips with the odd mojito fuelled story time. All of it is delicious for mind and body and the surrounds of spruce trees and islands gentle on the eye and soul. This is a special place with special people and I am savouring the space to reflect on the journey almost over. Mad and brilliant all at once.
At the moment we are hoping to get a turn in the weather to allow us our final few days paddling up to our finish with enough time to get Justine sorted and for her flight home. Weather, if you are listening, sort yourself out. Please.
Until next time
P.s Krissy is holding up well after we replaced one of the damaged clips at Hallo Bay