Wrangell, Alaska

07/23/07 - 07/24/07

The two days I spent in Wrangell were amazing. The weather is still dreary with lots of fog and mist. But it didn't put a damper on our activities.

It started with the ferry ride from Prince of Wales Island. We saw several humpback whales and one of them breeched right next to the ferry. After we arrived, we drove to the campground that was about five miles from town. The road was along the waterfront and it seemed like almost every tree or rock near the water had an eagle in it.

On the second day, we took a trip to the Anan Wildlife Observatory. This is an amazing place run by the National Forest Service. They built a viewing platform over Anan Creek. When the salmon run up the stream to spawn, bears and eagles come to feed. We hired a tour company to take us there. It was a thirty minute jet boat ride from Wrangell. We then had to hike twenty minutes to the platform. It's pretty intimidating when you're seeing bear scat every few steps on the path. Once you get to the platform, the scene is unbelievable. There are bears and/or eagles just about any direction you look. The platform is 30-40 feet above the creek. The bears have been habituated to the humans being there, so they pretty much ignore them. They come to the river and fish for the salmon swimming upstream. There were probably a dozen or so black bears feeding when we arrived. They all had their favorite spots and techniques. You could see the pecking order in the interactions of the bears. There's also a photography blind that you could sign up to spend a half hour in. This blind is 10 feet above the creek. While we were in the blind, a mother bear brought her two cubs down to the creek to feed. She was right below the blind, so we were only 10 feet from them. It was fun watching the cubs play while see fished. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a brown bear (i.e. grizzly bear) showed up. Suddenly, there was not a black bear to be seen. We watched the brown bear catch and eat three salmon. We got to spend a little over three hours at the platform. It was an experience I'll never forget.

The first six photos are from the ferry ride. The next five were taken along the waterfront between our campground and town. The remaining photos were taken during the Anan Creek trip, with the last two from the boat ride back to Wrangell.

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Steve Winker