Joe has been asking people as we travel if they have seen a grizzly along the road. Probably 50% of the people have seen one. Joe said that is his only disappointment on our Alaska trip even though we did the bear adventure. He just wants to see that big grizzly walking alongside the road. Well he finally got his wish. About twenty miles from the Canadian border on our way to Haines we finally saw that grizzly. We slowed down to get a picture and of course the bear turned around and headed into the woods. We got a nice picture of its back-end but at least we saw one. Little did we know that a few days later Joe would have a much to close encounter with a grizzly. But first I have to blog a little about a few other things on our way to Haines.
After we crossed the Canadian border back into the Yukon we came across “the worst” road we have been on (really this was it). We drove about one hundred miles of gravel, pot holes, frost heavies, and pilot cars that you had to follow for ten miles through construction and mud. This was the worst road because when we got to the campground our mini had shifted on the back and we had to raise it and center it again. Not a fun job! Worst road!
Our reward for the terrible road was finding a beautiful Yukon Government Campground outside of Destruction Bay. The Yukon has the best provincial/government campgrounds. They are cheap – $12.00 a night, free fire wood, spacious sites in woods and they are almost always close to a lake or creek or river. The down side is there are only pit toilets, no electricity, and no water. The Yukon parks tell you to boil their water for 5 minutes before you use it. We usually stay in a dry park for one to three days. By the third day we need a good shower.
Congdon Creek Campground was no exception. This was a beautiful park on Kluene Lake. There were two loops, one on the lake and one in the woods. We were in the first loop but not right on the lake. Our site sat off by itself next to the gate for the tenting area which was closed because of bear activity. There was no tenting in this park allowed. This was the first park we stayed in that did not allow tents because of bears yet there were no “be aware of bear in area” postings in the park. I guess that is what gave us a false sense of security. We are always a little concerned when we walled, me more than Joe. Of course, because we were next to the closed off tent area this is where Joe wanted to walk. I convinced him that we would check out the rest of the campground before we walked into the tent area which was very heavily wooded. We did our walking around the park and down on the beach of the lake and left the tenting area until another time. The next morning around ten we took Lily for a walk around the first loop and then the second loop. We got back around 11 and I went inside to do a little cleaning while Joe and Lily stayed outside to get a fire going. All of a sudden Lily is barking and Joe is yelling for me to get Lily there was a bear. I grab Lily, threw her inside and followed Joe to the end of our site. There were two grizzly bears at the end of our loop. Joe was so excited he could hardly talk. He said he heard this loud huffing sound, turned around and saw something coming out of the tent area. By the time it got about 30 feet away from Joe he realized it was a huge grizzly running at full speed down the loop. Lily’s barking or Joe standing there didn’t make any difference to the bear. The big bear was chasing another bear. Later Joe talked to the campground controller and he said they had to close the park down a few weeks at the end of June because of a mating pair. He thought it probably was the same pair. He also told Joe that a mating grizzly is almost as bad as a mother bear with her cubs. You don’t want to be around them. Joe was lucky that the bear had only one thing on its mind. Only one other person saw the bear and neither he nor Joe got pictures. It all happened so fast but Joe finally got his wish. Now he says “but I didn’t get any pictures”. We did get great pictures of its footprints which was pretty neat. What he did get was a new respect for bears. He keeps saying he can’t believe how fast a bear can run. It won’t stop us from walking in the woods but we are just more aware of making noise and not taking Lily.
After leaving this park we stayed at two more government campgrounds, one that said bears frequent the area. No more bear sightings but great parks to stay in. At Dezacleash Lake our site was feet away from the shore of the lake and Million Dollar Falls we sat at the edge of a roaring river which was great sleeping at night. There was also a beautiful falls with a very nice boardwalk to view the falls. Love the Yukon government parks but hate the Yukon roads.
After we passed Destruction Bay the roads were new and great to drive. The scenery again was spectacular and we passed by many lakes where trumpeter swans migrate. We were lucky enough to see a number of pairs. We also drove through an Eagle Preserve outside of Haines but with all the eagle pictures Joe has we decided not to stop but just enjoyed the beauty.
We crossed back over the US border outside of Haines and will catch the ferry to Juneau on Friday to visit with our niece Sheila and her husband Marc for the weekend. We are so looking forward to seeing them and their new home.
Stay safe! Happy Birthday to our twins, Zach and Amanda on the 27th of July and our special little grandson, Alex on the 29th of July. Hugs, kisses and love to all!