May 27, 2018 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

A Beary Good Day in the Tetons

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

I arrived at the Gros Ventre Campground in Kelly, Wyoming, just outside Jackson Hole, on Thursday, apparently bringing the unsettled weather with me.

Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather
Grand Teton N.P. Unsettled Weather

Storm clouds, a bit of sun, rain, hail … just can’t seem to escape this kind of weather this year. Does combine at times to produce some dramatic shots though. The above image is the scene as I exit the Gros Ventre Campground on what turned out to be a very rare, exciting day in the Grand Teton National Park.

Bear #399
Bear #399

Bear #399

Bear #399
Bear #399

( For a little background of Bear #399, arguably the most famous bear in the world, click here.)

On Saturday of the Memorial Day Weekend, I had originally planned to just stay home and avoid the holiday crowds, but at 5:30 in the morning when I caught a glimpse of a little bit of sun through the storm clouds at sunrise, I decided I would venture out, hoping the holiday crowds might be sleeping in..

Bear #399
Bear #399

I drove about thirty miles north on the main road to an area referred to as Pilgrim Flats and couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied a very healthy looking grizzly with two large cubs grazing in the flats not more than hundred yards off the side of the road.

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

And more amazing yet, early morning golden light and no rain!

Bear #399 and Cubs
Bear #399 and Cubs

I was able to position myself with the sun to my back and couldn’t believe that the bears seemed very content to do their thing and were oblivious to myself and some other early morning photographers who were able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

When Mom stopped grazing and called the cubs in to nurse, I just couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have abandoned my plan to stay home on this holiday weekend.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Don’t think I would want to ever see those claws up close and personal.

Bear #399 Nursing Cubs
Bear #399 Nursing Cubs

Very healthy two year old cubs and obviously, a very experienced mother.

Bear #399
Bear #399

After spending the better part of two hours with these guys, and with crowds gathering, I departed Pilgrim Flats and continued up the highway to see what else I might run into.

A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs
A Second Encounter with Bear #399 and Cubs

On my return south on the highway, about two miles north of where I originally encountered these bears, I saw them coming out of the woods heading down to a small pond and pulled over to see if I could get any different type of shots. But by this time traffic was getting very heavy and my stopping started a huge ” bear jam ” on the highway. Just incredible how quickly the road backed up and people stopped in the middle of the road, on both sides, people darting in and out of traffic, just chaotic, and not my cup of tea. So, I left #399 and her cubs to the holiday crowds and hurried home to get my shots on the computer to see if I captured anything worthwhile in my early morning encounter with this star of the bear world.

An Obsessed Mountain Bluebird

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

While I have had other birds, at other campgrounds, be attracted to their reflection in the motorhome’s mirrors, I have never run into one as obsessed as this female Mountain Bluebird.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

She shows up at sunrise and returns all throughout the day to try and discourage this interloper she sees in the mirror, trying to intrude on her territory.

Female Mountain Bluebird
Female Mountain Bluebird

Other times I have observed this kind of behavior, it has always been a male bird and I have never seen one so aggressively fight off this perceived intruder. She was making such a mess of the mirror that I finally had to go and wrap a plastic bag over the mirror, whereupon she turned her attention to the other other mirror, that she had previously ignored. Now both mirrors are wrapped in plastic, but she still shows up several times a day to check on the intruders she knows must be there but that she can no longer see.

Next post, another bear encounter at the same location, but a different bear!

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September 16, 2015 Hyder, Alaska

Searching For Salmon
Searching For Salmon

A Couple Days at Fish Creek

I arrived at Fish Creek just after first light this morning and was shocked at the number of people already there. The parking lots were all but full and there must have been forty or more folks braving the cool, drizzly weather. The word of yesterday’s visit  to the area by a mother grizzly and her two cubs, a visit that I missed, must gotten out quickly. But by nine AM, with no bears showing up, everyone left and I had the place to myself, no bears plus rainy weather sent all the sensible people home.

As usual, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Searching For Salmon
Searching For Salmon

But finally, the same bear I had seen here before came wading into the scene and I was rewarded for my patience.

The One That Got Away
The One That Got Away

He began chasing salmon as soon as he arrived, mostly with no luck.

In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit

Upstream, downstream, going after one fish, but suddenly distracted by another, changing directions, didn’t really seem to have a very good game plan for actually catching a live fish.

In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
In Hot Pursuit
End of the Chase
End of the Chase

But finally he managed to corral one and tore into his first catch of the day.

End of the Chase
End of the Chase
The Catch
The Catch

He seemed kind of proud of this catch!

Leaving the Area
Leaving the Area

After half an hour of mostly coming up empty in his pursuit of live salmon, he moved downstream …

Dead Ones Are Easier to Catch
Dead Ones Are Easier to Catch

… and discovered this rather large, deceased chum salmon. Guess he figured out that a dead salmon is easier to catch than those live ones.

Salmon Feast
Salmon Feast

He hauled it out of the water and worked on devouring the whole thing over the next ten minutes or so.

Heading Downstream
Heading Downstream

Then he headed downstream and out of sight.

Camera Shy Bruiser
Camera Shy Bruiser

I waited around for another two or three hours in the rain, hoping for some more action, but, except for this huge bear that briefly stuck his head out of the bushes, then rapidly disappeared, my wet wait was in vain, and I packed it in around two o’clock and headed back to Meziadin Campground to begin getting ready to depart tomorrow morning.

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September 15, Stewart, B.C.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Another Trip in to Fish Creek and Salmon Glacier

Up and out very early and made the 35 mile drive in to Stewart/Hyder while it was still dark. My game plan was to try and get up the Salmon Glacier Road in time to catch some early morning light, and hopefully some blue skies.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

As the Prius climbed up the road, I could see some pretty heavy cloud cover moving in and it looked like I wasn’t going to get my early morning shots.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

I did manage to snap a few shots before the blue sky disappeared completely …

Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier
Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier

… but it didn’t take long before the clouds were only allowing shafts of sunlight through. No sense in wasting the long trip up here so, since the cloudy conditions were conducive to shooting a couple of the small  waterfalls up here, I turned my camera around to concentrate on the uphill side of the road and slowly headed back down the mountain.

Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

You’ll have to forgive my fixation with this type of waterfall shot …

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

… but i just have this thing about a single rock fixed in the center of a waterfall.

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
A Little Autumn color
A Little Autumn color

A little local color and then on down to …

Fish Creek Bear Observation Site

Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck
Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck

A view of the platform above Fish Creek on this gloomy day. I wandered along the platform for about two hours patiently waiting in the drizzle and rain for a bear to show up. There were only a few other hardy ( foolhardy? ) souls here today who risked getting wet for an opportunity to see some bears in action.

Chum Salmon Spawning
Chum Salmon Spawning

There are still quite a few, a little worse for wear, chum salmon spawning in Fish Creek. One of the rangers here told me that this season has seen the best chum salmon run in nine years. The female fish ( on her side in the image above ) is fanning out a spot in the gravel, with her tail, where she will deposit her eggs. The male, the darker fish behind her, will then fertilize the eggs.

A Sign That Bears Are Around
A Sign That Bears Are Around

Salmon remains on the bank of the stream indicate that there are still bears in the area that are coming in here to feed.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

And finally, on my third trip in here, this handsome fellow comes wading down the stream to try his luck!

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Kind of a thrill to be this close to one of these beautiful animals. This guy is almost directly below me, only about 20 feet from where I am standing on the deck above.

I just happened to stumble on this blogger’s post on Fish Creek and was a little surprised to see what she was lucky enough to run into when visiting the site, click: here to check it out.

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September 10, 2015 Dawson City, Yukon

Moose on the Move
Moose on the Move

Wednesday, September 9

Now it’s a day after my TPMS was scheduled to be delivered and still no package and the folks in the office are giving me scary stories about 3 and 4 weeks to get stuff shipped up here. UPS’s package shipping tracking says my package is still on schedule for delivery yesterday ! Guess that tells me what their tracking system is worth.

And under the category of piling it on, today I received a fraud email from Chase and it appears my credit card # has been stolen and is being used online, so they have put a freeze on my primary credit card, the one I use to pay for campgrounds and gasoline. I do carry a second card, used only in emergencies, and I guess this now qualifies as such, if I want to get back to the US.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Dempster Highway Foliage
Dempster Highway Foliage

To get my mind off all this other unpleasant stuff, I decided to take a short road trip and check out the first few miles of the Dempster Highway. I only ventured in about 35 miles but was pleasantly surprised by how good the gravel road was, quite wide and not all that rough, of course I have no idea what it is like farther in. The aspens and birches were glowing along this first stretch of the highway.

Dempster Highway Moose
Dempster Highway Moose

The only wildlife I found were this cow moose, a few ptarmigan, and one pine marten that dashed across the road in front of me.

A Close Encounter of the Scary Kind

Grizzly
Surprise!

Just a few miles down Route 2 from the intersection with the Dempster Highway there is a roadside pulloff with a few informational signs about the area and I stopped there to stretch my legs and read those signs. I hopped back into the Prius, closed the door and glanced over my left shoulder at a rather large grizzly no more than 20 feet from the car!

The bear was silently grazing at the top of a short embankment on the edge of the pull off. While I was reading the signs, it must have been just out of sight down the short embankment. How an animal this big can be so quiet is downright scary. I never saw nor heard anything until I was safely in the car, but this guy was no more than 20 feet from me … and I was completely unaware of it’s presence!

Thursday, September 10

I have decided to give up on my TPMS ever actually arriving here in Dawson City and called UPS Canada and had them send it back to shipper. Later that afternoon I got a message from the campground office to call UPS Canada.  UPS Canada wanted me to give them a new street address for delivery, then after paying them an additional $56, they could get the package out to the Canadian Postal System for delivery, with no guaranteed delivery date. She also informed me that the reason the package had sat in limbo for almost two weeks was because they needed this street address because the package couldn’t be delivered to a PO Box. This after just telling me that the Canadian Postal Service was the entity that would be doing the final delivery of the package .. and I am to belive that the Canadian Postal Service doesn’t deliver to PO Boxes! The folks in the campground office assured ne that all their package deliveries come to their PO Box.

I informed the UPS Canada person that earlier that day I had told UPS that I could wait no longer and to return the package to the shipper and I had been assured that that would be done. She told me that while there had been a “request” to return the package to the shipper, there was no order to actually do so. She then claimed she would now do a  return order. So I called my credit card company and got the purchase of my TPMS reversed. I guess I am finally ready to depart Dawson City, unfortunately not with a new TPMS installed, but irregardless, it will be nice to finally get back on the road.

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