Our final morning at Baird Canyon was fairly uneventful. We got some last minute footage, packed up our (very, very dusty, dirty) belongings, and loaded everything back onto the boat. On our way out, we slowed up along Abercrombie Rapids to observe a grizzly bear foraging along the river bank from a safe distance. It was a bear we’d seen in that area the day before. When it caught sight of us, it ran into the bushes, but then quickly came out again to watch our boat float by. It’s a strange feeling to be observed so consciously and deliberately by a large predator, being watched as intently as we were watching it. It’s a stark reminder of how vulnerable and fragile we are as humans without our tools and technologies (even just our trusty boat) to keep us safe and distanced from the things in this world that we would otherwise have very little power over. Apparently in the 4 days since we’d left, Miles Glacier had calved a lot, and there was a ton more ice floating in the river as we rounded the bend towards Millennium Bridge. The bridge was our first sign of civilization, despite the fact that it is now cut off from the rest of the city due to the other bridge before it being washed out. Cordova fascinates me that way. This town is totally at the mercy of the elements. Although there is a ton of money being made by the fisheries — deckhands can make $40,000, and captains can be making up to six figures, in a single summer — there is very little money going to public services, such as road maintenance. It all goes into short-term interests, rather than long term community sustainability. And because Cordova is geographically positioned in such an unstable place, with melting glaciers, a river that quickly changes course, mountains, the ocean, and active fault lines, AND has no road access to any other place in Alaska, the town is incredibly vulnerable. Up until a few years ago, the Copper River Highway went all the way out to Millennium Bridge and a Forest Service park that offered up-close views of Child’s Glacier and a more distant view of Miles Glacier. Today of course, it has been cut off by the collapsed bridge at mile 36, so the park is abandoned. It’s eerie — sleek modern boardwalks, interpretive signs, picnic tables, restrooms, and bear-proof trash cans, but the only people who visit are the few locals who can get there by boat. It’s all just locked up and sitting there, getting grown over by the landscape. We spent a couple hours at that park before heading back to town. The crew wanted to go flyfishing for a while (I suppose it was their bonus for making the long trip out there!), so we hung out on the beach, walked the trails, fended off mosquitoes, and of course, took photos of the glacier. As much as I enjoyed and valued my time at Baird Canyon, it felt SO good to get back to my own bed and a hot shower and the mosquito-less bliss of my home away from home. We took it easy the next day, focusing on asset management, editing, and laundry (those socks have been through two washes now, and are still not quite back to normal!). Oddly though, I felt almost immediately claustrophobic being back in the house, after having spent so much time outside. So I went on walks and runs down the road and wandered about taking photos of the local eagles, and the hummingbirds that visit the new feeder we have hanging out on the porch. So, long story short, we made it back safe and sound. The rest of my time time here is focused on interviewing as many people as I can for my project, and trying to figure out how to film all this for my final documentary. Every day I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into out here. I still don’t know.