In this episode, Larre tells about a youthful encounter with two bear cubs and their mother. Click the Play button to hear the story.

heading ashore to Uganik Island

heading ashore to Uganik Island

Larre's story reminded me of another pair of teens who had a near-encounter with a bear on their first trip to the Alaska wilderness, with Larre as their trusty guide. Our good friends Cherie and Pat, with their daughters Holly and Bryna, spent a week aboard the Best Friends for some fishing and exploring around the islands off Kodiak, Alaska. One afternoon we decided to have a picnic, so Larre began shuttling us to shore in the dinghy. First to go were the two adventurous teens.

Uganik Bay

Uganik Bay

Upon arrival, the three explored a bit to scope out the beach and surroundings. Up over a little rise was a hidden inlet with a family of ducks that scooted into the shadows. Friends that have seen the photo of that spot have thought it was taken in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. Think of your favorite blue and green place. That's what this was.

hidden inlet, Uganik Island

hidden inlet, Uganik Island

Further down the beach they spotted tracks in the sand. Big tracks. Larre was thrilled. Kodiak brown bears are the largest of the brown bear species, easily weighing well over 1,000 pounds. Based on the tracks, Larre estimated it was medium size, about 700 pounds.

Take a look at the closeup photo of a paw print. The smallest spots at the top are made by the claws, which extend that far out from the toes.

After he gave them some background on the size and ferocity of brown bears, Larre nonchalantly said, "You girls wait here while I go back to the boat."

Kodiak brown bear tracks on the beach

Kodiak brown bear tracks on the beach

Kodiak brown bear tracks

Kodiak brown bear tracks

Kodiak brown bear foot print

Kodiak brown bear foot print

Back aboard, Larre excitedly told us about the tracks. Cherie took it calmly, but asked, "Are the girls okay?" 

"Oh, sure," Larre shrugged. "I told them if they make noise the bears will stay away." I thought I might be saying goodbye to a long and happy friendship.

Kodiak_brown_bear_tracks

We all made it to shore and, of course, the girls were fine. Anticlimactic, yes, but you wouldn't want it to be otherwise, would you? We got photos of the girls with the prints, then had our cookout on the beach.

Later, the girls did admit to a bit of apprehension while waiting alone on the beach. It was just the right amount of seasoning for a true adventure.

Alive and well

Alive and well

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