The last three weeks have been INSANE. I got engaged, then the very next day my parents showed up for a three week Alaskan adventure and I worked about three days each week before hurrying off to join them somewhere new and wonderful and say a whole lot of, "Isn't this place amazing?"
In these last three weeks I've done and seen many things. Rafted in Talkeetna and spotted the highest mountain in North America-Miss Denali herself, visited Denali National Park where I viewed (from the safety of a bus) my first Grizzly bears, went to Homer, AK where I touched the Time Bandit, entered the famous Salty Dawg, went halibut fishing, saw 20+ bald eagles chilling on the beach, took my "save the date" photo on the beaches of Homer, camped near the teal blue Kenai River, hiked along the Russian River, went salmon fishing with my folks, and STOOD 25 YARDS OR LESS AWAY FROM A MOTHER GRIZZLY BEAR AND HER TWO CUBS.
You see, as if all this awesome wasn't enough, two nights before my folks left we jumped in the car after work and headed to the Russian River to try our hands at catching sockeye salmon. Last year Adam and I visited this same river, you'll remember, it's the time I showed you this awesome picture of me and the sexiest waders of all time.
Last year I didn't see a single bear all summer. I hiked, I fished, I walked in the wild woods where the bears live and I didn't encounter, even from my car any bears. This was lovely. I told people I wanted to be the first Alaskan to never see a bear, ever. This would be an ok title for me to have thankyouverymuch.
But this summer is apparently the summer of the bear.
Last year on the Russian we didn't see any bears as we fished. This year after fishing for a couple hours we made a group decision to start making our way back to our car. As we were walking towards the trail my mom starts frantically pointing down river. We scramble towards her and see a mother Grizzly and her two cubs at least 200 yards down stream, slowly moving along the opposite bank making their way up river.
The group of people around us are all out of the river at this point, waiting out mom and cubs eventual movement, staying calm, keeping quiet. We wait there for a while and finally decide that since Ma is on the other side of the river and we need to get down river, we'll start walking and just bypass them.
Twenty steps into this plan I'm starting to think this isn't such a great idea anymore.
This is the amount of space we have between ourselves, and Mama bear.
THAT IS A LITTLE TOO CLOSE FOR ME TO BE NEAR A GRIZZLY BEAR AND HER CUBS!
But at that point we have to keep walking. There is a little walkway and a fence rail on our side, and quite a few trees, bushes and general greenery so we're not exactly full on moving targets.
For the most part the family was unaware as we quietly made our way past them. And oh-boy are they amazing. Huge, powerful, and the babies were so playful. Her babies were the size of great danes mixed with rottweilers plus the Sandlot dog, and her? Her head was, so enormous I don't even have words.
When we were directly across the river from them Mama Bear stood up on her hind legs, looked across the river, and began sniffing the air. And you know what? All those times I've read about bear attacks in Alaska and said, "Well of course they were attacked, they RAN. You never run from a bear. Stand your ground."
HA. HA. MOTHER FUCKING HA.
The minute she looked across that measly river at the four of us I wanted to run. Run and run and never stop running. I actually grabbed Adam in front of me and whisper squealed, "MOVE!" If he hadn't been there to keep me from moving forward who knows, I might have took off running. It goes against everything in your nature to NOT run from this,
Yes, clearly these are less scary than the real thing because they're strange Photoshoped bears that are missing their feet, but use your imagination people. Bears. Close to you. Looking at you. Try not to pee yourself.
So, we lived. We didn't run. She didn't charge. The bears in this area are used to people, and she'd already walked by tons of them on her way up stream and thought nothing of them. Basically it was a big o'l lesson in remembering to keep my cool around these big beasts.
Because as I realized on Sunday, they're not just far far away at the salmon river.
They're also less than 5 minutes from my front door.
Is it winter yet? I want them to go back to sleep already.