Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hallo Bay, Alaska I

The midsummer night came and went in about four hours, and the day broke with flawless blue skies and alpenglow already coloring the highest glacial peaks. Even with coffee though, I was moving a little slow.

Sunrise coincided with low tide, and Hallo Bay’s tidal flats extended hundreds of yards offshore. It took more than a hour to load up the zodiac, motor to shore, carry everything across the flats and over a barrier island, across a cold meltwater stream and up another steep cutbank before finally, finally seeing some bears.
I walked up the river bank and immediately spotted two large, dark brown bears feeding on the sedge grass.

The meadows are flat and manicured, and aside from the predator population it could all be a Scottish golf course.

I sidled in, doing my best if still unconvincing bear walk. Head off to the side, ambling slowly in, just minding my own business, checking out the grass. A large sow barely gives me a second look. She just kept on eating, stopping time to time to admire the scene or take another enormous dump.

It wasn’t until another, adolescent male ambled up and started taking bluff charges at me that I tried to remember where I put the pepper spray.