October 12, 2018

Friday Funny 10-12/18 (Bearable Flashback)

We're voting for the fattest bear at Katmai National Park and Preserve. (Fortunately we don't qualify, either in weight, or species.)

From Katmai Natl Park & Preserve Facebook page

We visited Katmai, and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in 2012, so this is a Friday Flashback to that excursion. We were "acquainted" with bear 747 then, and it's good to see him doing so well. He was an alpha bear then, and apparently still is. -Bearcam at the Brooks Falls-

It's very difficult to get reservations for the park, they open online booking in January, and we know from experience, you'd better be ready to click the enter button on the day, at 12:01am in order to get in. We originally wanted a cabin, (just beds, and a quasi-bathroom), but discovered those were already spoken for, so we opted for the campground. It has a "bear deterrent" electric fence around it. 

I didn't understand why we couldn't set up camp in one of the inner circle sites, "do we have to be next to the fence, couldn't we let someone else be first for a curious/hungry bear?"

Bill finishing setting up our Trango 3 tent. [A favorite among those who climb Denali...]
He's wearing a Original Bug Shirt to protect from the mosquitoes. [It works! Get these on Amazon...]

I was inside the tent unrolling sleeping gear, and I heard Bill inviting someone into our campsite to get a better look. I poked my head out, and there was a bear sleeping just on the other side of the fence. Yikes! My first bear sighting, and too close!

Looking out on Naknek Lake.

The campground is equipped with a centralized building for food storage, cooking, and clean restrooms.  We opted not to bring any cooking supplies, (except a few handy snacks), and choose instead, to eat all of our meals in the lodge. The food is excellent, and has one of the best salad bars we've ever seen. After all, we were there to see bears, not spend time with cooking, and cleaning. No one is allowed to have ANY food, or drink, except water, outside of the designated cook building or the lodge. (For obvious reasons....)

Protected picnic area.
The hike to the trail, boardwalk and platform at Brooks Falls is about a mile, and the required bear briefing advises visitors how to act if/when encountering bears on the way. They advise you to slowly back up, and keep 50 yards between you and them. The bears here, are habituated to expect that from humans, and they don't even look at you when they pass by. The bears have more activities than fish, eat, and sleep, but I'll refrain from those photos. (snicker, snicker)

Boardwalk to fall's platform

Bear asleep under the deck

Asleep until another bear walked by.

We have so many bear pictures, it's hard to choose which ones to post.

Sitting by the fall's platform

Watching intently for a fish to jump

"This is MY fishing hole!"

I'm pretty sure that in the previous photo, the bear facing you is of 747. Most of the time he had the prime spot in the river, and all he had to do, was look at another bear to say, "get outta here", and the other bear would skedaddle.

The park ranger at the platform, said that these two bears had an uneasy truce most of the time. They had done DNA testing, and these two had the same mother, different fathers, born different years, and their hypothesis, was that somehow the bears recognized it.

This guy had been in a fight, and lived to tell the tale.

Emergency exit? What emergency would make me run out into a brown bear?

Look at this cute little bear, she's 3 years old, I love those fuzzy ears, and dark paws.

Cute little bear.

This is the bear with the gashed shoulder, it didn't hurt his fishing abilities.

Got one!

We visited the last week of June, first week of July, right before the major tourist season. The crowds hadn't arrived yet, so we didn't have competition for the prime viewing spots. We had time to talk to the rangers, and the staff, and enjoyed the local knowledge. Once everyone found out we were Alaskans, locals, the conversations were relaxed. We took a day out of bear watching to ride the bus to the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes", but that is a tale for another day.

Valley of hardened lava.

In case you got to vote, or want to know, whether 747 or 409 Beadnose won the competition, ..... drumroll please...  

The winner is 409 Beadnose! Read about it here.

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, either here in comments or on our Facebook Denali Rose Sailboat page.

October 5, 2018

Friday Funny 10-5/18 (Rocks in the Pass)

Don't HIT Me!

Yes, we are at it again, more rocks. I thought Whale Pass was a challenge, but I hadn't been through what is known locally as Rocky Pass, on the chart it is Keku Strait on Kupreanof Island.

Add caption

My son sent me the Google Earth photo, and said, "Doesn't seem like you can go through there."

I said, "Sure didn't seem like it from this end either."

There's a section in our Douglass/Hemingway Cruising Guide, Exploring Southeast Alaska, that a guest mariner contributed, it's called, "Rocky Pass Conquered!", by Linda Lewis, and Dave Parker. They tell about how busy they were with watching depth, current, tide, daymarks, rocks, kelp, and other traffic. It's only 23 miles long, but if you time any of the above wrong, it can be very tricky.

Going in....

The beginning was nice, large rocks with dozens of comorants, gulls, and otters. I was hoping for orcas too, but no luck.

I though 35ft of water under the keel was skinny, it gets worse.


The deeper we got into the pass, the narrower, shallower, and more congested with kelp it got.
You can hear the propeller slicing it up as it turns.

Next it was down to about 17ft under the keel, and later it gets shallower.

Can you see the small numbers marking the depths? They say, 4, 6, 9, and that's not fathoms, it's feet! Chart on left, forward-looking sonar on the right, they agree with depths.

We entered the pass as the tide was coming in, so depths were going up, and if we happened to shoal, (get stuck on the bottom), the tide would be increasing the depths, and float us off. Up till this point, I had been outside on the aft deck taking pictures, Bill reminded me that if we were to hit something, it would be a hard jolt, and I might fall off. I retreated to the inside of the cockpit, so now pictures were taken through the clear plastic windows, and they're not as clear.

Devil's Elbow, make a sharp starboard, (right), turn here, and hopefully no one is approaching from the other direction.

I'm not using zoom here, it really is this narrow.

The pass gets very narrow in an area that had to be dredged just to get 10ft of depth, (4ft at mean low water), and the markers are like going through a slalom course.

Turn left, turn right, avoid that rock!
I'm grateful that the electronic charts are up to date, and that the Coast Guard maintains the markers throughout this passage.

Another narrow turn.

We could see a commercial fishing vessel in front of us, and we followed at a respectful distance. It was interesting to watch him wind through, as he went through the twists, and turns.

See the boat ahead?

And then we're through the narrows, and it opens up to large bays.

The boat ahead picked one to anchor in for the night, and we moved onto the next one, and did the same thing.

Rocky Pass Conquered! The Wrangell Narrows will seem tame after this one.

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, either here in comments or on our Facebook Denali Rose Sailboat page.