Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Smith Inlet, Part 2

The scenery changed as we moved farther up the inlet. Smith transitioned into a beautiful fjordlike channel with deep forested side valleys that drew the eye to ever higher peaks looming in the distance. The sunnier the day became, the more impressive r the scenery appeared - I can be such a fickle, weather-influenced tourist.

It was a surprise to round a bend near the head of the inlet and come upon the floating Great Bear Lodge. (Do explore their photo gallery for some terrific wildlife shots). 

We anchored in a small niche around the point from the lodge, feeling quite alone in this beautiful wilderness. Positioning the anchor in 110 feet of water, equidistant between shore and a series of shoaling mudbanks, was an interesting activity, and avoiding the several crab pots sharing the niche only added to the challenge. No problem, we rode comfortably through a series of tide changes without coming close to shore, shoals or crab pots. Masses of seals spent hours loafing and vocalizing on those nearby mudbanks when the shoals were exposed at low tide. At times the neighborhood grew quite noisy. 

The salmon run was just beginning to run up the Nekite River and we hoped the presence of fish would draw the grizzlies. I cautioned myself not to expect too much as we set out upriver in the skiff on a rising tide. Initially we saw little wildlife, primarily birds. Kingfishers made a few dive-bombing runs at us, crowds of Canadian geese fed in the marshy flats, and families of merganzers paddled furiously into side channels when we passed. 

After motoring along slowly for 90 minutes, we finally saw some grizzlies, the first and only of the summer for us. A large grizzly sow with two cubs appeared at a gravel bar along the bank. Mom fished for salmon while the cubs splashed in the water alongside, observing her technique or maybe just playing. The sow was very wary, so we kept our distance and wished for longer camera lenses. As the water rose with the tide, it covered the gravel bar and the bear wandered off into the brush. Our bear watching was over all too soon, but our timing was good and we were lucky. 

We returned to the big boat in time to watch a commercial crabber pull his pots, and reset them again in a ring around our anchor niche. Those fishermen worked hard for very little return.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I enjoy reading your comments, so please leave a friendly message. Comments are moderated so it may take a while for your note to appear.