Loc: Alaska Beach Highway
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 32,5 km
Start: 08:05 End: 16:50
Karel forecasted us for today up to 20 knots wind from SE, but thankfully in the early morning for crossing the 7,5 km wide security cove into NE direction, it was still low winds. We found a pink-ish spot on the rocks, which turned out to be a very rotten stinky huge old walrus. I climbed out for some pics, but with my scarf in front of my nose…yucky! It was kind of “melting” slowly away, really disgusting to see and to smell…who knows how long this poor guy is already sitting there dead?
One of the next beaches was dotted with four black spots, another bear-mom with three of the cutest small tiny cubs! We sprinted towards her to get closer for pictures, but another bear, quite large in size, was strolling also towards her on the beach. If it was the dad who is unfortunately always a potential threat for the cubs, or a cub from last year, no idea. At least mom preferred to climb up the grassy cliffs, trailing her babies before we could come close enough for sweat pics. What a pity!
The family-idyll disturber bear finally turned back to the other corner where he came from, and spotted us coming…despite the offshore wind, he finally got scared as he could not put us somewhere. He also galloped uphill, where another larger bear was sitting like waiting for him…his brother? SIX bears on one beach! How lucky are we! We landed our kayaks on the now bear-free beach, and took at least a few pictures of the tiny paw-prints close to mum’s…how cute! Small bears are looking just like little puppies…
We scooped water on a rocky beach, always such a basic human need and so easy to fulfill here in such a super-delicious way. Crystal clear, cold delicious water…a delicacy itself.
Another beach, some more dark spots, two on one side, one on the other corner close to us. They were all feeding on some carcass. We chased up the first large bear, it amazingly didn’t take him long to hurry away from his feats when he saw us approaching. We were guessing he would hold on to it like a hungry dog, defeating his find? Despite the two other bears still feeding about 300 m down the beach on that other carcass, I felt safe enough to land. I am usually the one to get out and to check on the beach finds first, before Fylkir also lands – or not, depending on how interesting he finds my found. This was another huge stinky walrus, not as long dead as the other one. The second dead walrus of the day! I got closer to the carcass when I suddenly got excited and called out loud to Fylkir: “Tusks! Tusks!” We were always dreaming to find a walrus tusk…
Fylkir got so distracted that a small wave grabbed his kayak which he was just about to drag up the beach. The wave turned his kayak sideways, unfortunately, perpendicular to my parked one, and with an ugly noise, his bow side rammed into my parked stern. A solid hole in his bow was the result. Bad luck!
The tusks of this dead walrus turned out to be both broken off half and sitting still so solidly in the now bone-dry meat and in the jar that it was impossible for us to get them out somehow with our very limited tools of a knife only. So no tusk find on this one…
But we had to attend the hole in Fylkir’s bow before we could launch again, and unloaded both of our bow compartments. Me for digging for my repair bag, Fylkir to get access to the hole. Still watching the bears 300 m down the coast feeding, we decided on a quick fix for now with duct tape, after I cleaned the spot with acetone. This looked solid enough for the next few hours before we would call it a day to land. How long would those other two bears still be feeding on that other carcass?
We had just patched the hole, when one of the bears decided to check us out, as he couldn’t get any scent of us. He slowly walked downwind towards us, and we both started to pack a bit quicker to get away from the beach before the bear arrived. But I also knew that one short “BOOOH!” towards the curiously approaching fellow would be enough to chase him away…which I finally did when I saw I didn’t get ready packed in time. Off he went! Fylkir was already half in the water, shitting in his pants as he admitted later, still having the vision of bears rather running finally up to us and attacking than getting scared and shying away. They don’t do that if they are not getting surprised, pushed in a corner or feeling unexpectedly disturbed! He relieved saw the bear galloping uphill, and landed again to have a final check together if we would not be able somehow to retrieve the broken tusks…but no chance.
When we paddled past the last remaining bear on this beach still feeding on another dead walrus, he also galloped uphill when we were about 200 m away. Beach free for another landing and check-up on the bear food! This walrus was half in the water with this tide level and looked and smelled as yucky as the other ones. How can bears feel this is still food…?
Even if we would have planned to camp here, this is not a good place to stay. Too much bear and walrus carcass traffic…we paddled on, up to Chagvan Bay crossing, which showed not to be any problem on the rising tide. We went out again briefly for a look, and found a huge highway of quad-bike tracks…civilization, welcome back! we assumed the tracks come directly from Platinum at Goodnews Bay, but later found on the sat images some probably mining place along a river up to the mountains, with a clear dirt track.
We found a small hut, just on the intersection of the beach highway with the mountain track. we found another carcass, but this time it was a bear, head and teeth still intact, minus the claws. Was it (likely shot) dead because of harvesting those? At least we learned by looking at this jaw and comparing it to the walrus jaw with the broken off tusks that all the other bone jaws only we found on the beach where we stayed three days were not bears, but walrus. They must have been more interesting to hunt…
We decided not to stay here on this highway intersection, but to paddle on for a bit to find a more remote spot to camp. But when we landed again through some nasty side wash dumper, we saw the highway tracks were not finished here. And later, two ATV’s drove by but both without stopping but looking, as we were already inside our tent. No problem, we are happy to have our rest after another eventful day!