About the only interesting thing in the Visitor Center that we haven't seen before is this video on the salmon run. We are on the west coast of Alaska, and this shows how they come in from the ocean and then permeate all the rivers and streams getting to their birthplaces to spawn. Pretty cool.
From the Center we went over to the river running through town to see the sights there. We were told that it was not uncommon to see eagles there, but we didn't. What we did see was a lot of these metal staircases that line the rivers here so people can go down them and fish from them or to step out into the water as you can see in pic #2. If you blow up pic #1 you can see a handful of the staircases lining the bank in the distance. A little fun fact: you see people in waders here in the water not just because the water is cold. It is actually the law that everyone is supposed to wear them anytime they go into the water to keep from fouling the rivers with our body oils. Different, huh?
So after an uneventful Thursday, we got moving a little earlier on Friday and rode back out to the Russian Falls area to give ourselves the best chance of seeing a bear or bears. We were told of 2 places that were best, with the first one being the Hidden Creek Campground in the Chugach Forest. We were told by more than one person that we had to drive down a dirt road and over a bridge, and that's where we would find the creek where the salmon would be running, and therefore be drawing the bears out. We drove back and forth, and back and forth again, but found no hint of a bridge! we stopped at pullout and saw this nice scenery, when we lucked out and talked to couple locals who said we were probably misunderstanding the term "bridge"...they meant this huge metal pipe in a culvert that let this tiny stream pass under the road. Here is Cathy trying to scout out even a single salmon...NOT! Truth be told, there was barely any water...haha.
So off we go to the Russian Falls, and what has now become an almost 5 mile round trip "forced march" to the area where the fish are jumping that we went to 2 days ago. haha We are nothing if not persistent! haha
A wounded bear sign was posted in the forest, saying he/she was sighted just the day before in this area. I took this guys picture cause he was packing a rifle to go fishing, and he wasn't alone in doing so. Aside from him we also saw some fish jumping again, but no bears...ugh!
So we rode back into the campground area for a final stop of the day, with no expectation of seeing any fish really, never mind a bear, when we went down one of those metal staircases we showed earlier in the blog, and "voila"!...we got bear!!!!! We were just about to leave when Cathy spotted him, and then spent about the next 45 minutes walking along the boardwalk following him down river as he tried to find something to eat.
Unfortunately, he was the wounded bear, and when we zoomed in on him you could see something was definitely wrong with his paw and he also had a fish hook and line in and around his leg. This lady and her husband were Stream Watch volunteers, policing the area while keeping us dumb tourists safe (haha), and they said they thought his paw or leg was broken. They also said that because he was thought to be about 2 years old they would not kill him or try to help him...this is a case of just let nature take its course, and if he survives...
They did say he was getting enough fish over the past 2 days while they were watching him, so that gave us some hope. In these 1st 2 pics you can see him over Ellen's and Cathy's left shoulder. When he was on the other side of the bank he was maybe 35-40 yards away from us.
But when he came into the water he crossed sometimes at least 1/2 way to us, so he really closed the gap. (That's where the Stream Watch volunteers came into play...haha). The volunteers told us that even with a hurt paw, if he chose to go after us he would get to us before we could back off the trail. Fortunately, he was more interested in the fish than us.
Watching the bear was truly a mixed blessing...we were totally psyched at first that we were seeing a grizzly so close in his natural habitat, but realizing he was hurt and on his own was sad. We're all saying a prayer to the bear gods that he makes it!
Here a few videos of him in action...you can see better that he is injured in these.
So we were glad to finally see a bear in Alaska with Ellen, wished he wasn't hurt and that he makes it to next year. We head out to Seward tomorrow to the eastern side of the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound. We will be back in an area of glaciers and oceans, so really looking forward to that...we have seen enough trees to last a lifetime! haha