We do not regret having driven back up to Princess Royal Island. No, we have not seen white bears. But: we have done wonderful hikes up rivers. We had to climb over rocks and trees, crawl underneath trees, wade through the rivers over very slippery rocks and through deep mud where once I had a hard time getting my boot back out, balance on fallen for a while until we could jump back down, walk through thick bush while eating the bear's berries, walk or climb up little waterfalls, do some rock climbing up and down, very much enjoying every step we take. In our second river, once we had gotten past the rock climbing we found a nice sandy riverbed, flat enough (due to the drought) to be able to cross back and forth as we needed it, around that one corner behind the bush I saw a big dark rock. Oh no, it was moving. And ate fish. We were lucky. We found three decent size grizzly bears eating fish about 50m (50yards) ahead of us. Of course I only had little battery left on my camer
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.