Bike Ben's Blog

Rafting

Paddling With the Current

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Standing on her hind legs, arms in the air and looking unhappy, a mamma grizzly bear reacts aggressively to my presence in her space, just 30 or 40 m away. Her young cub stands behind her. Exactly what you don’t want to happen, has happened. I have startled a grizzly bear with a cub by coming over a ridge and finding her upwind of me. My immediate reaction is to panic. I know that you are not supposed to run from these creatures, but my instinct is too strong, I take a few steps backwards and away before turning and running to inform the others in my party that there is a bear and cub. Not wanting to hang around, I head directly for higher ground where I can see if she is coming. Sure enough, a few seconds later the mother and cub appear on the ridge opposite, by now both are on their hind legs with arms raised. We yell as we have been doing periodically to scare them away and she drops to all fours and runs in the other direction. My heart beat slows and we continue cautiously on our way.
Meanwhile, all up and down the beautiful Tatshenshini River, bears, wolves and moose roam freely in this enormous wilderness area, not familiar with human intruders since the first nation people left the area some time ago. Attempts have been made at mining the area but finally after a lot of action from environmental activists, the plans were canned and the entire area was turned into a park covering areas of the Yukon, British Columbia and the Yukon. This enormous wilderness is only visited by rafters and a few hardy fishermen and hunters, but it is the wildlife the rule the ranges here. Historically it was an important trade route for first nations people trading commodities between the coast and the interior.
The landscape here is as if it were in reverse, the rolling, wooded hillsides of the upper reaches of the river give-way to ever growing mountains with glaciers flowing down their valleys while the snowy peaks rise high above the clouds. Floating icebergs and cracking glaciers beyond create a polar feeling as the Alsek River nears the sea. A truly spectacular part of the world which must looked after for future generations.