Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day after -- the Four of July

69 degrees mostly sunny.  winds from the south 12-15 mph.
     Bear Lake is a refuge on the Fourth of July because Seward is the place to be on Independence Day and the town is rockin'.  On Bear Lake, other that a few more kayaks and canoes than usual, the day is quiet, down right mellow.  A bit of wind gives mew gulls some lift as they roam the southern end of the lake looking for lunch, and the ever-present eagles occasionally change perches or fly a spiral route to up hundreds of feet about the lake where the catch the thermals, cruising and soaring high above the rest of us.  Late afternoon I'm on the north porch looking east where toward mouth of a creek that drains in to the Lake from Tiehacker Mountain.   A young bear dashes from the brush straight into the lake up to it's neck.   In matter of seconds, it's back on the beach gripping a flapping salmon in its maw.   I got the binoculars up just in time to see it disappear into the brush again.
     By evening a few kayaks are on the water, coming out from the public access or the B&B located near the outlet.   Evening is good bear viewing and the water is often flat.   Sunny days on the lake usually mean wind.  A north wind blows until midday when we have an hour or so of calm followed by an afternoon of south wind that will hold steady until well after dinner.  By eight or nine in the evening winds die off and the lake turns to glass.  During these long summer evenings this a fine time to slip into something comfortable, like a lifejacket and a kayak seat and slip out across the water.   The salmon are jumping, the swallows are chasing bugs above lake, and the evening light accents the glaciers and lingering snow fields on Tiehacker and Mount Eva.  Last night, I watched a chocolate colored brown bear working his way south along the west shore of the lake.   I didn't spot the bear until our paths nearly crossed.  As is common,  it was walking in the shallows under the overhanging alders.  At first I could only see four brown furry legs wading along, sending the salmon scurrying.   Then the full body came into view.  I drifted in still in my kayak for several minutes following the bear's route with my eyes.  Sometimes he turned from the lake and moved out of sight uphill among the spruce and hemlock only to come back down to wading again, sometimes completely obscured by the overgrowth, and I was left to watching the alders rattle as it passed.  I wondered if he wanted to swim across the narrow part of the lake and I was in the way, or if he was heading downstream to the weir for this night of fishing.   Some questions don't get answered, but sometimes being in a place where such an a question can come up is more than enough.

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