02.09.2018

Busy chasing nature

Our alaskan sailing friends have left us in Petersburg leaving great memories of an amazing time together behind. We left Sitka on a beautiful day, heading for Baranof Springs. Once we got there it rained, which was a blessing. Why? Cool water drops from above made the hot open air springs more bearable. The location of the springs is just stunning. From the harbor you walk on a mostly prepared wooden pathway until you turn left into a kind of moderate rainforest. Not far into the woods you can already smell a bit of sulphur and you don't know if you have an eye problem or why you can't see clearly anymore. It's the steam that turns the scene into a fairytale forest with natural pools. There we were, on top of the Baranof waterfall in a place where very cold water just rushes by in high speed while you sit in a natural hot pool on rocks inside it, relaxing into the day. Boy we enjoyed it. We got so hot that Marcus and I climbed down to the river and plunged into a little side pool of the river where we were sure not to get sucked out and down the waterfall. 


Once we left Baranof we crossed the strait to the next island across. In the middle of the crossing of the channels we came across some whales hanging out. Needless to say we turned the motor off and just watched on this beautiful morning scene with amazing light through still dark rain clouds scattered of the the blue sky that was just opening up. 

 

When the whales got too close we took off and continued our morning journey to Security Bay. When I dropped the anchor I looked over the flat to the land (as I always do) and was sure to have seen a bear. Back at the cockpit I looked through the binoculars only to see that there are at least two bears. So we quickly packed our stuff, jumped into the Dinghy and off we went - Marcus, Fran and I. Little did we know that we would be seeing not only one or two bears, but a couple. Mom and kid and more grown ups and half grown ups. We spent I think about 3 hours just sitting in the Dinghy and watching, getting as close as we safely could. When the tide was going out we had to move. Marcus and I went on land, Marcus for fishing and I was looking around to see if I could find a bear with a fish. Then I saw one coming on the other side of the now creek. And he was going for fish. The nice thing about them going for fish is that they are not after anything (or anyone) else. They are focussed, but still afraid. Maybe even more afraid that someone could steal their fish. When the guy moved closer into the water where I was on land of course I backed off. I got some amazing shots, I guess my best bears ever, because it was in nature and not raining. When the water moved out even more we had to move out as well. I drove back to Alita to get Charly, the drone, to take some footage. Which I did. One bear was scare and ran away, the other one was still busy fishing. I did not expect them to be afraid of a drone flying high above them in some distance. Flying back from where the bears were to where we are I saw how many fish were already in the process of beaching themselves, dieing, or already taken apart by bears. While Marcus was still fishing I kept on watching the bears. There was the one who took my heart, he was limping holding his left front paw up. Seeing that big heavy bear jumping on three feet made me feel so sorry for him. He still jumped into the water trying to get fish. He was kind of slow and did not even take the fish right in front of his face. But he ended up with two for eating. I still wonder what was wrong with his paw and hope it heals. Then I watched another one fishing. As he was back out in the grass eating a third one came, walked across the water, did not catch anything and then decided to go to the other one and take his fish. So the one who caught the fish before left his fish, got back into the water and picked another fish out. Interesting to watch. Usually we see only one bear, they al hang out alone. Which seems sad to me as well. And then that scene where one lazy one takes away the fish of the other, just because he can. Lucky enough there are enough fish for all of them to get fat for the winter break. The next morning I flew the drone again and so an incredibly amount of dead (and alive) salmon in that creek. And bears. Only two in the morning. 

Here: limping bear and dead salmon



The morning when we left Security Bay we not only saw Otters (hadn't seen them in a while) but also feeding whales again. What a treat!


Every since that experience we're hoping to see more of that because sadly we had to leave that scene in the morning. We have been looking in so many bays but didn't find anything like this anymore. Until today. We finally found a coastline / bay / creek /flats layout that is bear friendly and photographer friendly. And there are salmon. We drove up to the creek with the Dinghy and sure enough I saw a bear eating fish behind a fallen tree. We hid away on the side in some distance and watched him (through my super zoom film camera). Right where he was was a pool in the creek, perfect for catching fish. Even better when the tide goes out more, so we're hoping for tomorrow morning as today it was already late and the light not so good. But, so unexpectedly, I was able to film a bear chasing and catching fish and some cubs coming and eating the fish as well and climbing up and down a tree (in the distance). Funny of course, that we only drove to land to check out the possibilities for tomorrow. I did not even bring my photo camera, just grabbed my phone and film camera. We'll see what tomorrow brings. 



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