The forecast was for rain today, so everyone was advised to bring raingear for the trip to Anan. The ride over in the speed boat was flat calm. We stopped along the way to view seals hauled out on a low rock, waterfalls, landslides and even a bear swimming across the shallow channel! Upon arrival, we started on our mile walk around an estuary surrounded by an old growth rain forest. Every surface was thick with moss and draped in lichens. The high-pitched whistle of eagles and the hollow caw of ravens could be heard all around. Green ferns with shiny licorice black stems, bright orange “chicken-of-the-woods” fungus, colorful berries and sulfur-yellow mushrooms delighted our eyes.
The stream was choked with pink salmon awaiting their turn to fight their way upstream to spawn. Before reaching the platform, we met a black bear just a few feet off to the side to the trail, but our guide simply guided us past.
The unenclosed platform is simply a wooden structure with a 4-foot railing around it. Black bears are all around along the riverbanks and appearing and disappearing into the rocks and greenery. Each bear employs its own fishing technique, and each has staked out its own fishing spot. It is soon clear that some have a better fishing location than others as well as a more effective fishing technique. Each bear is intent on fishing and has little tolerance for trespassers on its claim. Some jump into the water with their entire body, others swipe the water with their huge, clawed paws, others employ the snorkeling method and still others simply bite the fish as they swim by. It is fascinating to watch the different techniques and predict the pecking order as one bear approaches another, it’s not always brawn that wins.
Bears are amazingly agile creatures, especially considering their great size! Climbing up boulder faces and felled logs, walking on slippery rocks and jumping up to perches or down to landings. Some are obviously well fed as indicated by their rotund bodies but also by their choosy appetite. While some bears eat the entire fish, other choose just the belly, skin and head, ignoring what we would consider the best parts! Others catch a fish and simply release the fish they just caught. This is befuddling until its understood that they prefer the egg filled females and rejected the males.
Gulls, ravens, and eagles are all part of the mix. Everyone gathers here for the feast and there is plenty to be had. One platform is built along the creeks edge under a camouflage blind. This vantage is much closer and provides intimate views of the animals. Two adolescent bears across the stream were challenging each other swiping and growling at each other as siblings will.
After approximately two and a half hours, it was time to exit the platform. The walk back was calm and peaceful, and everyone felt very fortunate to have experienced raw, wild nature in a rain forest.
P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. firstname.lastname@example.org