Posted: Tuesday, October 03, 2006

After returning from the slope on Friday Sept. 29th I picked up my new pick-up in Anchorage and drove home. Not new (1999) but 11 years older then my old one. While driving through the Cooper Landing area I spotted a brown bear and cubs along the river but when I turned around so my son Travis could also see them they were gone. I’m not sure whether there was two cubs with the sow or three as I was concentrating more on keeping my truck on the road then I was looking for game.

On the evening of October 1, my family and I were invited to the home of Pastor George Rakos who has a cabin in Sterling at the Kenai Keys. We were spiritually fed at George’s church in Funny River that morning and then fed a great meal at his home that evening.

Following the meal we all piled into two of George’s boats and headed up river to look for bears. The river smelled a little foul as the shoreline was littered with dead salmon and the water was still churning with yet more salmon coming into the Kenai River to spawn. We spotted several silvers jumping and saw a lot of spawned out fish barely alive and doing a very weak and slow version of swimming compared to swift and powerful method you used when they first arrived at the mouth of the river.

One particular fish was fluttering along on top of the water almost like he was showing off or at the very least putting on a show. The old spawned out humpy was gross to look at and traveling so slow I think even I could have beat him at swimming. Perhaps if he could talk this is what he would have been saying. “Hey look at me I’m still alive, I’m like that rabbit on TV that just keeps going and going and going!” “Almost all the salmon I came up here with are already dead but not me!” “Even the bears can’t catch me, aren’t I something?”

The wind was cold on the river that night and it made it very difficult to control our boats as we drifted through the area above the Kenai Keys looking for bears. We spotted several grizzlies along the river feeding on fish just as it was getting dark. Most of the bears we saw were very timid and did not allow us to get very close to them for a good look but one thing was certain, there are a lot of bears feeding on the river this time of the year. In some places the grass is all knocked down and some very distinct trails are worn right into the ground.

One bear was feeding in the river below us and as we drifted towards him he grunted and splashed and then dashed up the steep bank into the brush. He snapped his teeth at us a few times from the top of the bank letting us know he did not appreciate having his dinner interrupted. I ‘m quite sure that I could not win the race up the steep bank with this bear. For now I will concentrate on racing only spawned out salmon instead of bears.

On several spots along the river the sea gulls were congregated eating salmon waste and squawking their approval. They were raising such a racket it sounded like 10 women all screaming bingo at the same time mixed in with a whole bunch of oooh’s and aaaah’s. Several eagles were also in the area and I thought it would be interesting to know what they were thinking. As they flew over the huge flock of noisy sea gulls perhaps they were also thinking; “I think some fresh fowl would be nice instead of salmon every day.” “I think I will eat the noisy one, no how about I eat the white one.” “No I think I will eat sea gull number 100, one two, three, four, hey hold still I’m trying to count you birds.” In any event the birds seemed to be enjoying life and happy to have a steady diet of rotting salmon.

By the time we got off the river everyone was pretty well chilled through from the brisk sharp wind that we endured the whole evening. Often times here in Alaska we have several forms of cheap entertainment available right in front of us and never take advantage of it. If your looking for another place to go look for bears Hidden Lake is also a great spot to go look. Take along the binoculars and glass the mountains to your right as you head up the lake. Any off colored black or brown should be checked out more closely. I have spotted a lot of bears on that side of the lake especially in the fall.

Well I better get out and finish digging the rest of my potatoes as I still have over 200 plants to dig yet and as black as the plants are I’m sure they are done growing for this year. If I get them dug and in the wheelbarrow I’m sure my wife Taby can come home from work during her lunch break and get them all put in crates and stored for winter. Them old milk crates make an excellent place to store your potatoes as long as you put them in a cool dark place like on an the back wall of your garage and cover them with a blanket. I could be at the Duck Inn telling stories before she gets home if I hurry..Did I ever tell you about the huge spud I once grew in North Dakota? Well four of us rolled it up a 3x12 right in the back of my 3/4 ton pickup.See you next week!

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