Friday, June 8, 2012 From mountain to sea: brown bear tracks and surf

I have seen black bear, moose, and mountain goats on Mt Marathon, but never brown bear. Today while snowshoeing along the Bench Trail to the Bowl, I thought I was following someone else's snowshoe tracks. I happened to stop and look more closely. Yikes! A perfect, huge brown bear track with all five claws poking holes in the snow. More behind, more ahead. Another set of tracks roughly paralleled these, perhaps a cub. I couldn't tell how fresh they were, but the tracks headed straight for an alder thicket and snow-free area where we would have to pass to get to the Bowl.

Ignorance is certainly bliss, sometimes. If I hadn't seen the tracks, there was a good chance that we would have never seen a bear, and we would have enjoyed our lunch in the snowy Bowl. But knowing that a brown bear had been here, and could still be around, made the decision to turn around easy.

We enjoyed lunch in a different spot today, and will have many opportunities to return this summer to dine in the Bowl. It was a thrill and an honor to see those giant tracks in the snow, evidence of a mighty and mysterious wild spirit, going about its business on a beautiful day.

After descending the mountain, we headed to Fourth of July Beach on the east side of the bay. The south wind blew 18-20 mph with gusts to 25, accompanied by roiling green surf. The waves slammed into the battered boat basin breakwater, sending spumes of saltwater high into the air. Then the waves ricocheted off the breakwater into the oncoming waves, creating turmoil of intersecting white-capped waves that subsequently crashed onto the beach. What an impressive sight! 

Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Events Reporter

PS A brown bear was observed from town with binoculars about noon, racing from near the Race Trail all the way across the mountain where it disappeared into the alders right where we were headed. Hikers about halfway up the Race Trail may have scared it off. I found the tracks not more than 30 minutes later. Fresh! And no cub.

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