Sunday, August 4, 2013

Alaska 2013, Day 61, Wrangell Day 2

Thursday Aug 1, 2013


We had a 9 AM trip to Anan (pronounced "Ann-Ann"). The forestry service puts out 60 permits per day for Anan from July 1 to end of August.  The outfitters share 45 daily permits through a lottery in February.  This alots the whole summer. The remaining 15 daily permits are realeased 3 days prior.  I have been trying to get a  permit through a couple outfitters since April and was not having  any luck.  Cheryl tried 2 more and one said no problem.  When I  talked with them today they said they booked us expecting to get the 3 day prior releases because they have been so successfull getting them. Evidently the other outfitters only book for the permits they have on hand from the Feb lottery. Anan is on another island just off the far side of Wrangell island.  They use large jet boats to get  over there and it takes a little over an hour at 40 mph.

They  stopped on the way over for an eagle nest by the airport and a couple of groups of seals hauled out.

Just before we landed we stopped and had lunch since you can't bring food of any kind onto shore.  There is a 1/2 mile walk; boardwalk with steps. We walked back with a USFS guide and our guide.  Our guide carried a pump shotgun loaded with slugs (later found out their company insurance requires they carry a gun eventhough the USFS guides don't have any).  Anan has a large pink run, that is what brings the bears. The run here is large because there is a "salt chuck", a brackish pond estuary where the pinks can rest before running up the  creek.  Because the fish can rest up and run strong they go further upstream and are more successful at reproducing.  There were signs of  bears right from the point we got on shore.  They have been digging roots and clay all along the boardwalk, there are game trails all through the grass, there is scat everywhere. The guides were sure to move slow and noisly around blind corners.  We saw 2 brown bears at the edge of the salt chuck and another further up stream.  I heard that they only get black bears here, I was not expecting brown bears.  At the end of the trail  is an observation platform, with a railing and gate, above the falls and a photography blind down at the base of the  falls.  The falls are short but in a tight gorge.  There were no bears at the falls when we first got there.  We saw another black bear at the bend way up stream (turns out it was a  black brown bear!). The guides told us just to wait and be patient.  After about 10 minutes a black bear came out of  a hole in the gorge right beneath us and went into the falls and caught a fish.  He proceded to do this like every 15 minutes the whole time we were there. Then we saw a black bear with a cub and another black bear just above the falls on the other  side.  The cub was up a tree. The guide told us the mom sent  the cub up the tree while she chased the other black bear away. The black bear and cub came across the stream to fish right under us.  The caught fish then climbed a tree right at the deck to eat it.  They repeated this about 3 times.  While they were up in the tree bear after bear came down to the near shore  out of the woods or from up stream.  One big one was fishing and saw the mom and cub and ran right up next to the railing  by us (boars fear sows with cubs).  We had a couple bears walk up and around the deck,  right against the railing. 2 bears were fishing just below the falls at one point while the earlier bear was in the  falls.  From the blind you could watch them about 10' to 30' away but the lighting in the gorge wasn't good enough for photos, even with bright sun today. We got some great pictures, the bear cub, bears in trees, bears real close. There were bears on the boardwalk a couple times. Emmy says she counted 18 bears today. We got to the deck maybe around 11 and left at 2.  We didn't see any bears walking out.  We ran into a chop on the water coming home so it took like an hour and a half to get back, it was after 4 when we finally hit the dock.



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