This morning (July 21), a jet boat carrying the two of us, ten other passengers, and three crew whooshed over the jade waters south and east of the town of Wrangell (at the northern tip of Wrangell Island) to the Anan Wildlife Observatory, 30 miles southeast of Wrangell–an amazing place indeed! Anan Creek, which supports one of the largest pink salmon runs in Southeast Alaska, roars and rushes over rocks down to Anan Lagoon, which empties into the sea at Anan Bay, and in the summer, the creek is thickly carpeted with salmon returning upstream to spawn.
The Forest Service has constructed an observatory at the top of the rapids so that the fishing bears and their cubs can be watched from above, and the many bald eagles, crows, and seagulls that feed on any salmon remains left by the bears (both black and brown varieties) can be viewed easily as well. A beautiful half-mile gravel and boardwalk trail begins from the mouth of Anan Lagoon and leads, through the rainforest along the shores of the lagoon and creek, where numerous waterbirds, eagles, and harbor seals can be seen, to the observatory platform. From the platform, steep stairs lead down into a covered “viewing blind” from which the bears can be watched from just a few feet above the stream without being disturbed.
The jet boat trip to Anan took an hour; we stopped along the way to observe plump harbor seals piled on some rocks and to get a close look at some (now very pale) reddish paintings on some rocks above a shore–their origins and possible meanings are unknown. As we walked along the trail to the observation platform, our guides told us about the flora and fauna in the area, pointed out bear tracks and scat piles and trails up and down the hillsides, and related stories about past encounters with bears (they carried bear spray and firearms “just in case”) and about the bears themselves.
We had somewhat less than four hours during which to view and photograph the wildlife, and everyone had a marvelous time, on the platform and in the blind!
From time to time, black bears wandered up the banks and crossed the trail just outside the observatory gate. It was wonderful to be that close AND safe!
The tour was expensive, but Walt and I enjoyed it VERY much! I hope that you like the pictures, and that you will look back at the posts from the last several days to see updated pictures.