Look out for the Grizzly!

A couple of years ago my adult children and I headed off on a great adventure in Alaska.  We flew to Anchorage, rented a car, and drove to Denali National Park. Once we arrived, we took a bus twelve miles into the park where we hoped to see wildlife and gorgeous mountains. Because Denali is so tall, it is often hidden in the clouds. A visitor has about a 30% chance of actually seeing it on any given day.

Fortunately, we had some luck. At one point the clouds broke, and Denali shone in the light! We were able to view the tallest mountain in North America. The full bus tour lasts twelve hours. That’s a long day on a glorified school bus, but we were rewarded again when a couple of grizzly bears came wandering down the gravel road.

Here we learned from our guide that grizzlies can vary in size and appearance based on where they live. These grizzlies were smaller and blonder than their relatives due to genetics and diet. These two seemed perfectly content to walk near the bus so we could get some photos.

Later in our trip, we visited Haines where we could make our Grizzly bear comparison up close. We toured an animal refuge run by Steve Kroschel (https://kroschelfilms.com).  He was a very interesting and passionate character, and he introduced us to a lot of critters, including a wolverine, porcupine, caribou, moose, and a big grizzly bear named Kitty.

All along the tour, I was enthusiastically following Steve with my camera.  We were having a great time learning about the animals and interacting with them. As we neared the “grand finale,” Steve motioned for me to come to the fence. There I saw a hole in the fence through which my camera lens would fit perfectly.  He said, “When Kitty finishes her berry pie, she will come this way to go back to her private den. For about ten seconds, she will be running straight toward you.”

Grizzly bear running through the dandelions.

So when the pie was gone my daughter called, “Here, Kitty!” Just as promised, I had ten seconds to get a photo of Kitty running through the dandelions. It was thrilling! We had a marvelous and memorable trip to Alaska.