a. So I first took out the film camera to take a video of them eating. Then I shot some photos. As grizzly kids stay up to two years with their mom we believe, from their sizes and fish catching skills, that two were older cubs and one the mother. They all had funny different hair style. The biggest one had a kind of blondish head, one was completely black and one a mix. The smaller ones took off, wish a fish in their mouth, once they saw us. Only the biggest one looked at us and continued its hunting and and feeding on fish. Could not have been many. We had seen a bunch of salmon (all pinks and three sockeye)a bit further down in a pool which is too deep for the bears to get them. After I had my pictures we slowly moved backwards and walked away back down. That "encounter" gave us hope and we returned next day. Well, that next day we met two locals (indigenous) who do fish counting, but no bears. We walked all the way to the natural fallen tree barrier which is another 45 m
in upstream. There we found lots if carcasses of chum salmon, any many skeletons, heads without eyes and dug out holes where bears had looked for eggs in the ground as the eggs carry lots of nutrients and are their preferred winter storage food. We so loved that hike. 3 and 4 hours, so cool. Same with the other walks along rivers that we did. No bears, but partly really challenging, especially the one yesterday with it's bigger waterfalls and higher rocks/ almost cliffs. Did I mention that we're hiking all of this in our gum boots, our "XTraTuff". They are standard in Alaska. Everybody has them, especially fishermen/-women, but really everyone. They're made from neoprene and as such are really flexible. That makes them somehow more scratch resistant. So far they still keep the water out. They are brown on the outside and the women's have cool inside designs like octopus, salmon etc.
Yesterday along the river we saw tracks of wolves. The two people we had met the day before told us they often come out and check you out, especially if you imitate wolves sounds. We did not dare to as we were still hoping for bears. Last chance today/tomorrow. It's finally supposed to rain tomorrow, that means the remaining salmon are going to come and run up the rivers. That makes food for bears so they will come out. We'll see.
We just drove into a bay with active logging. They are crazy. There are people cutting down the trees and then the heli comes and flys them out (without any people on the ground to help). They operate a grabber from above from the heli. Once the heli has two or three trees in its two finger "hand" it flies them over a so called "float" and drops them. Makes for great pictures and very much reminded my of the calving glacier I witnessed. The "floats" is an area made up by floating trees which are tied together so any tree thrown into there will remain within these boundaries.
So far for now, we're continuing on to Klemtu and possibly to another bay. There is a hatchery there and they say there are lots of salmon waiting. We hope to get some more finally, we're running low.
Then yesterday we drove up in beautiful weather from the outside of Swindle Island to Princess Royal Island. We did not move today. This is our try to find white bears. Or bears at all. Only few salmon have been seen. Our problem is this beautiful summer. It has hardly rained here in BC. Everything is really dry, even the evergreen trees turn red and yellow. The bush and trees with leaves loose their leaves all ready due to them being dry. They went from green to brown and off to the floor. One spark would burn down whole BC. That means the rivers and creeks have now water. That means the salmon can't get up there - or can't even find their home creek as there is little fresh water mixing into the ocean water. Maybe sometimes not enough to guide the salmon the way. Here and there we see some jumping outside. Or even here in the river. But they are mostly already changed to spawning and dying state- so they don't taste good anymore- or are so rare out there you can't catch them. In the past three weeks Marcus was only able to catch two. Seems like the season is over. But we keep trying. We had a good tip a week ago, but he had to drive down to Port Hard to deliver crew. So we could not get to that spot and now it's probably too late. But, we'll pass by there anyways in a couple of days.
So far so good. It was great to NOT move Alita for a day. All I did was drive around in the Kajak and in the Dinghy. At night I was able to record some strange calls. No animal I know, so it sounded like little bears whining. I'll have to find out. A super echo amplified their cry. Stupid crows disturbed the silence a lot. When they talk - and they do most of the time- you can't hear anything else. That's called sound pollution.
ry similar to Patagonia/ Tierra del fuego.
We left there yesterday with the same procedure, hanging out in front of the narrow waiting to be able to get through in the other direction. This time I did not have to go in the Dinghy first.
We continued our path to the next hot springs once we entered the Inside Passage. And then we received a whale fireworks. How so? We saw a bunch of whales and all of a sudden, while our friends had already given up waiting for them and I was still sitting there knowing they'd come back, one started breaching, into my picture. And then the next one breached and the next one. They kept taking turns in breaching, for a couple of minutes. That was truly crazy. Very beautiful to see against the sunlight- difficult for photography. But just amazing. Our friends of course got their cameras out again and we shot side by side, hoping to get a good one. I haven't looked at the pictures yet, but I am sure I got something.
Continuing our way towards the springs we came across another bunch of whales, further away, and one also decided to breach a couple of times. Just so beautiful to watch. This morning as we just left in the sunrise the whales were still hanging out here in the bay, showing us their blow and tales in the morning light. A moment to treasure and never forget.
We're gonna continue the Inside Passage towards Vancouver Island now. Lots of miles every day.
Another highlight of course were the hot springs again. We soaked ourselves last night in the sunset, before we went over to the boat we were tied up to, Nomad. We were last tied up in a package in Elfin Cove. Early this morning all except Marcus got up in the crystal clear night, beautiful clear and cold starry night, we soaked again in candlelight. That was truly amazing. Upon our return to Alita, at 6.45, we took off and are now on the way again.
We arrived in SE Alaska, at the town Elfin Cove on Chichagof Island in fog and drizzle, rafting up with a sailing vessel.
Elfin Cove is a pretty little place on a little island with a walkway around. It has a small store which is cheaper than all the big stores we've been to in the last 2 months. Also a laundry (also cheaper), showers, post office, school, gift shop and most important: nice people. During summer season there are about 40 people, in the winter it's only 5. Lots of fishing vessels pull into the harbor in summer, get gas, laundry, food, shower etc. Also there are two big lodges for tourists who want to do fishing. Really nice place.
A couple of days and anchorages later we pulled into the harbour of Tennakee Springs. You can go to a natural hot spring pool which has a bath house built around it. The hours of the day are split between men and women. Luckily when Tina and I got there it was 5 min before women time. We met nice local ladies there. One talked the most, she is a musician. Beautiful voice. She sings and plays mostly string instruments. We even visited her in her house later. Very nice and local. Most of the houses are built over water on stilts and very old. And expensive. One house is on sale for 400.000$. Decent size, but not huge. In a town which counts 60 people, the only "street" is a path and really all there is is that spring. Ferry comes twice a week and a regular plane service exists between there and Juneau. A lovely little town though where I could have easily stayed a week. Peacefully calm. Great bay view in front of forest.
Now we're in Sitka, the biggest place in long. Already too big for my taste. And still small :-) "Downtown" with a couple of shops for all the cruiseship tourists is only a 10min walk. The supermarket here is smaller than Valdez, Seward or Kodiak! There is also a salmon hatchery, but it is small and by far not as cool as the other ones, especially Kitoi. And not a good location. No bear will come here. Not good for my photography...
Tomorrow our alaskan sailing friends are coming aboard for 8 days. Very much looking forward to that!!