After a fantastic morning of viewing bears , we eagerly hop back into the kayaks at 5 pm and paddle over to the outhaul lines where we are met by Ranger Jane. We bring her some homemade chocolate chip cookies and she is thrilled. After securing them in the food locker, she assures us that she would save some for the other three Rangers.
Getting the all clear to proceed, we quickly walk the shoreline to the designated viewing area. We join five other visitors and take a seat on the log overlooking the meadow and salmon stream while patiently waiting for the bears to appear. It is almost an hour before the first brown bear is spotted. This large male spends his time munching on the sedge grass. Like clockwork, the bears begin appearing one after another. Someone must have rang the dinner bell. A mom and cub work their down to the beach where mom wades out into the stream fishing for salmon. The little cub follows close behind although he is reluctant to venture into the deeper water over his head. We can hear him cry out to mom for some reassurance as he begins to tire in the swift current. Mom pays no attention and continues fishing. The cub is much relieved when they are back on firm footing. She never did catch a salmon although they are jumping all around.
Ranger Jane tells us that this mom had two cubs three days ago. A ranger watched as the two cubs were fighting on the beach at low tide over a clam. The other cub grabbed the clam and swallowed it whole. The ranger witnessed the cub chocking to death yet could do nothing about it. They have to let nature take its course. Everyone was in tears over this sad turn of events. At high tide they brought the cub’s body ashore. After taking hair and DNA samples, they buried the little bear on a nearby island. They will retrieve the skull in about a year.
During the course of the evening, we see a total of seven brown bears as they fed in the meadow and check the stream for salmon. With our attention distracted by a large male fishing on the beach, we lose track of the mom and cub. All of a sudden, they appeared within 30 feet of us as they walk back downstream for another fishing attempt. We were all startled by how close they came but everyone remained still and quiet. Mom didn’t even acknowledge our presence but the baby bear stopped inquisitively just in front of us. He wasn’t sure what to make of these strange two legged creatures. Thankfully, he didn’t come over to investigate. He was soon rolling in the grass at moms side as she scooped up handfuls of the green sedge with her sharp claws. What an amazing experience!
The Bears of Pack Creek will be a highlight of our Alaska Summer.