We got a really wonderful opportunity today. The bay next to Aaltanhash is called Khutze Inlet and the Khutze conservatory is located here. This inlet is known for its grizzly bear population and there are Guardian Watchmen who stay out there all summer and keep watch over the inlet to make sure people follow the regulations put in place to protect the bears.
We made our way up the inlet and were met by two of the Guardian Watchmen. They had both grown up in the nearby community of Klemtu. They were wonderful guides who gave us a lot of information not only about the bears but also about their First Nations culture.
In the Pacific Northwest there are two kinds of bears: black bears and brown bears. This river outlet is home to mostly brown bears. Brown bears are typically larger than black bears with round ears and a hump near their shoulders. To cope with a winter in which there is not much food around, bears go into hibernation for around 6 months. During this hibernation they don’t eat, drink, or go to the bathroom. They rely on the fat stores that they built up all summer. Mothers give birth while they are hibernating and do not wake up when this happens. The cubs live in the den with their mother and all of them survive from the mothers hard work in the summer months. In the spring the family emerges to begin enjoying the abundance of warmer weather.
We saw a mom with two cubs on our adventure up the river. The cubs wrestled with each other and ate fish that mama bear brought back to shore for them. Eagles swooped down from the treetops along the water and we soaked up the epic beauty of the river mouth till the afternoon. We made it to Alexander Inlet just in time to watch the sunset and head to bed dreaming sweet dreams of the peace that we are all settling into being on this adventure.
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