Anan Creek Bear Watching
After a quick lunch, we met up with 18 other residents who were lucky enough to get the chance to go to Anan Creek. A friend had told us about this months ago as a not-to-be-missed experience in Alaska.
Anan Creek is a very special place where, for centuries, the local people fished and camped. The bears are here looking for food as well. There has been an abundance of salmon for all of these years and people would hunt for the coming winter and dry the fish. The name “Anan” means “place to sit” in the native tongue. Between early June and mid-August, the activity is at its peak and the Forest Service limits visits to 60 people per day. Our Concierge applied for the permits in early March as soon as they were released and we made the cut!
From the tender, we took a bus to the float plane “port” where we received a briefing, which included bear etiquette. No one was allowed to take a backpack, food, or anything that remotely had an odor since bears have such keen noses. Properly alerted, we waited for our names to be called and met our pilots. We were in a six-seat Havilland Beaver and our pilot Brentwood was the epitome of an Alaskan bush pilot, short, grizzled, and of a certain age. But with twinkling eyes and a good sense of humor.
It took about 35 minutes to reach our destination and along the way, we had some great views of both water and land.
We were up very quickly and flew between 1000 & 1600 feet
Our destination on the left
The trailhead where we would begin our walk
Obviously, there was no landing area out there and so our plane pulled up to a small floating dock where we disembarked and jumped on a small boat for the trip to shore. Those in the larger planes had to go from plane to boat.
Once on land, we met our guide, Bob, who pointed out the facilities and gave us an overview of our trip. Anan Creek was on the opposite side of the landing area, so we would walk in a circle to the other side for about half a mile. There were wooden walkways and some steps but we took our time, stopping occasionally for pictures or just to admire the view. We were deep in the forest.
The view from above the landing area
The beginning of the walk – Anan Creek is off to the right
The welcoming committee of one
The rail on one of the bridges that had been chewed by a bear
Along the way, Bob pointed out areas of vegetation that had been trampled by the bears as they headed for the creek and the salmon. Although he said that he had not encountered any bears on the trail lately, he nevertheless carried bear spray and a rifle. I stayed close to Bob.
First bear sighting!