Day 5 – Bears have replaced breakfast. Having anchored at Kwinamass, we went to the estuary early in our inflatable boat. A bear was grazing sedges on the left bank. It walked out on a big fallen tree, then entered the water and swam across the river mouth. For over an hour we watched it ripping up sedges. With the help of bug spray, we withstood legions of biting sandflies as we watched and listened to it eat. At our closest, we were within 100 feet of the bear. All the while, a heavy mist fell; fortunately I had a plastic sleeve for my camera.
After the bear moved off we went further upstream, taking in emerald meadows lined with lillies and fireweed and other flowers, the mist-shrouded slopes, huge fallen trees grounded midstream, and the sightings of a River Otter, a Spotted Sandpiper, and an eagle or three. The few swallows were not nearly the legions we would have liked to drop a damper on the bugs.
Then we went ashore, where we found a day-bedding area apparently used by a bear and her cubs. Barrie could read the sign like code, but it didn’t take an expert to be astonished at the sheer volume of poop ringing the bedding area.
Feeling a bit pooped ourselves, we headed back to the boat.
In the afternoon skipper Randy Burke brought us around to the Khutzeymateen Inlet itself, our destination. We got excellent looks at several bears and cubs along the shore. We also found a pair of eagles that had either killed or scavenged a small Harbor Seal pup.
We anchored alongside the floating home of Greg Palmer, who takes people to see the bears of the Khutzeymateen. He’d set traps for spot prawns, and we gorged mightily on big shrimp from the world’s most sustainable shrimp fishery—no nets, no by-kill, just the shrimp you want, trapped live.