Tuesday, September 10, 2013

denali highway continues...the heaven after my hell

 a small tribute to honda and a solid car that doesn't easily break when a grizzly is attempting to tear it apart...thanks honda!!
 that was on the highway.  these first few are from the drive up to the highway area.  matanuska valley.  it's always so pretty. i knew i was hitting the seasons right up on the denali as it was still early in this section.  it is funny you hit the fall colours in patches.
 the matanuska glacier.  it goes on forever it seems.  this area will be spectacular as well in a week or so.  fall is fast and furious.  it's beautiful but it doesn't last long.
 there is a matanuska campground and walking path.  i often stop here for walks and have camped here before as well.  the trail is a loop, easy.  great for the pups.  with dogs i just stop often.  good for me as well.  always great to stretch those legs.
 did speak to someone at the BLM today.  first i left a message with someone who listened to my story and was well aware of the bear situation at sourdough and said she would pass my note on to 3 different people and i would for sure get a call back, which i did.  the person i spoke to, sarah, was helpful, informative, honest and very much appreciated me calling.  it doesn't sound like the camp host had informed them of my incident, which i think is odd.  i really just don't think that host grasps what happened to me and also maybe doesn't understand what this is going to mean for this bear possibly.
 they are very aware of the bear there.  apparently these incidences only started to occur a few weeks ago.  the bear has slashed open a few tents but also got into the truck.  she said it looks like the trucks window was left open as there was no damage to the truck at all.  the bear did get a bag of sugar out of that deal so lesson learned...cars mean food.
 as we spoke she did say that they had obtained rubber bullets or bean bags.  everything requires more red tape it sounds like.  get approval for this and that.  they would have to have someone go stay out there for a week or two in order to really try to convince the bear to go away with the rubber bullets and such.  sounds like they were working on that.
 loved this shot above...not sure why, i just find it peaceful.
 as for closing the campground. she was saying it's not as easy as it sounds.  there is a boat launch access and many fishermen and hunters use the campground and so they would not be happy to have it closed.  i get that as well.  it was just good to talk to someone in the system as things are not always as easy a fix as one would think.
 i did find my anxiety level rising just telling the story again.  part of me is kinda of in denial that this was real i think.  i'm just going about my day like it never happened and telling the story is a reminder that is is real and did happen.  probably good for me though to repeat it.  mostly i just tell people to read the blog entry.  the basics are all there.  i wanted to write it last night as it was fresh in my mind.
 anyway, she found the details of my story helpful and said several times that she appreciated me calling them.  they will use this information in their decision making process.  she agreed that the bears lack of reaction to the noise was a bad sign.  i told her i didn't know again if it was the bigger or smaller bear but that others in the campground had taken photo's and the host said it was the smaller one.  they, at blm, were hoping this bear would move on.  he probably just got kicked out by his mom and is trying to find his way.  add to that it being this time of year when they are trying to fatten up...
 sheep mountain area.
 well, it does seem to be a bad sign for the bear.  perhaps they will try to deter it by having someone go out there with the rubber bullets or they may find once they are there that the bear has become too acclimated to humans and shoot it.  i hate  to feel responsible for a bear getting killed but i'd feel much worse if i didn't call and tell them the details and then heard of an even worse encounter with injuries or death.
 i walked the dogs today, but just a walk from my place out to cheney lake and then back through the bog.  it's probably at least 3 miles, but low bear risk.  it also didn't require a car ride and i think we were all happy to take a day off of being in the car.
 rio seems the same.  more sleepy, which happens after road trips anyway.   blossom spooked at least 3 times on the walk today, which she never does.  i bike came up from behind and blossom totally spooked, jumped.  i think she's for sure more nervous after her bear scare.  poor girl.  i had her chuck it and let her go for a nice romp in the water. normalcy...i figure that will help.
 this was a little church right before paxson.
 i took several photo's of swans that were out on these lakes right after my bear scare, i must have been shaking more than i know...all those early photo's i took were blurry and useless.  the swans looked pretty out there. i think there are a few that came out ok.
 this lake was the only pipeline sighting i noted along the richardson highway.  you can see it below.
 ate at the little restaurant/hotel at paxson.  wanted to blurt out to total strangers what had just happened to me, but they were not chatty at all.  seems so strange to have  had this bear thing happen and not be able to talk to anyone about it.  the host person had been useless.  she seemed to act like it was all  no big deal and even inferred it was all my own fault.  i did text a few friends when i got service.  i needed someone to be as shocked and scared as i was.
 i have always missed the great colour on this side and haven't hit the colour change at it's peak like i did this drive though so that was awesome.  i kept repeating to myself that it was ridiculously beautiful!!  the colours were just crazy amazing all along the drive.  the weather, well, less than ideal, but that is how it goes.  the fog was cool and i love a good fog.  the bear did get me up for an early start on the day.  thank you bear.  i may have woken later and lingered in camp without the assistance of the bear.  nothing like a bear attack to get you awake and ready to hit the road.
 my body feels better today.  driving can be achy.  walking was good just to get the muscles working again.
 the car has no damage by the way.  people have asked that question as well.  i do remember thinking i could hear a bit of a rattle in that passenger side window with all those bumps on the road.  was it new?  i'm not sure.  that road was pretty weathered after all the rain we've had.  lots of pot holes and such.  i had tossed the full spare on the roof. well, my nice neighbor had helped. i think that tire got heavier this year.
 i still have to get the thing off, it is easier to get off than put on though.  soon it will be time to change over all the tires.
 there are glaciers and mountain ranges out there but i didn't see the ceiling come up too much that day.
 the road wasn't too busy.  there are loads of hunters out there, most of them seemed to be parked and waiting for a bit better weather. i never saw any moose or caribou.  the bear was my only wildlife sighting of the day besides the swans.
 maclaren was raining when i got there, but i took the girls for a shortish walk.  i think i would have walked longer, but it was wet and a bit soon after my bear.  it will take me a few to get back to my old steam.  thanks quinton....i know i'll be back to my usual neurotic self soon enough.  still some jitters though.
 the colours are so vibrant...and we only have like 3 cones.  there was an interesting thing on npr about color sight in various species.  dogs have 2 cones so some colour variation but not as much as ours.  birds/bees and butterflies have like5-6 i think...and some mantis shrimp has 12.  not sure why a shrimp would need to see colour so vibrantly but it wouldn't see these anyway as it would die out of the water...so there i guess.
 loved this fog shot.
 all the pictures are gone through.  i even got stuff loaded on cd's in case my computer goes.  still have to load onto shutterfly...that takes a bit. i'm pretty far behind.  i better get cracking though, calendars and christmas cards are coming up fast.
 it seems like i have had too many life threatening moments...i don't consider myself any sort of risk taker or adventurer.  thought yesterday of cats and how they have 9 lives and wondered how many i get.  thought i may die when my pilot announced that we were to prepare for crash landing.  thought i'd die when the entire face of that glacier came down and  created a huge wave, thought i may die when we stupidly towed kayaks in crap weather across the bay on shuyak island, thought we'd die in that boat coming off of round island and again yesterday i thought i may die when that bear broke through the glass, but he didn't.
 it's not my time yet.  i'm pretty happy about that.  lots more hikes to do, more friends to make, more places to go, more pictures to take.
 glass can be a girls best friend...my happy honda before it got too dirty.
 more fog...

 was so hoping some animal would pop up out here.  would look so cool with all these fall colours.  too many hunters out there...the animals are hiding.  last year though i laughed as there were hunters all over and i came over a hill and there were several caribou crossing the road. i got pictures of them before they took off over another hill. all this land....they do have a more fair chance of escaping.  no game ranches here.  did see several trucks heading back with antlers in tow, so successful hunts for some.
 this weather didn't seem to make a hunters job any easier though.  not all that pleasant anyway.  it is nice to know that if i have any issues out there, i got lots of folks around who would be willing to lend a hand no doubt.  alaskans are good like that.  did tell an abbreviated bear story to a few folks out there when we were stopped at the same spot.  one old guy asked, "did you see the bear"...see him...i was in the car...all i saw was bear.  everyone does love a  bear story...it's better though when it has a happy ending.  mine was a tale with a happy ending.  it may not be for the bear though. not sure i'll ever know what happens and i doubt i'll call to check up on it.
 i told my story, now i'll let the blm do what they do.  at least they have the facts.
 this is the view from maclaren summit.  you can usually see a wee bit further.  still pretty sweet spot up there.  i love hiking up there.  one of these days i'll hike back a few hours and see what happens.  today wasn't that day.
 i stopped and fed the dogs at another pull out.  as i was getting ready i noticed some hunters with binoc's up on the hill near me, they were within yelling distance. i asked if they could see any bears nearby...they said no.  i was a bit bear shy all day.  seems a normal reaction.
 from yellows to reds.  this is fireweed at it's peak of colour.
 the reds and purples are great...

 these are while i was out on the summit walk.
 i had the macro out, just kept tucking it in to make sure it stayed fairly dry.
 caribou moss...it's really a lichen of some sort.
 another lichen.
 just giving the oranges and yellows some photo love.

 i usually see more berry pickers out there. did see many on the drive up outside of glennallen.  people are everyone storing up for the winter.  berries and fish...happy foods.  now it's time for hunters to get the big game.  many alaskans still live like they did in the old days.  at least some level of a  subsistence life.
 there is one plump blueberry looking ready to be plucked.
back to work for a few nights tomorrow.  i had that one day vacation and a schedule change to accomadate my trip to kaktovik which i opted out of.  now i'm thinking that may have been a good idea.  better to not risk any more bear encounters.  at least those bears should have some food around.  they usually are feeding on whale carcass...

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