What a wild last 24 hours it’s been! Last night, I was walking home to my cabin from Brooks Lake through the shortcut trail, singing to myself to warn off any potential bears, when I saw one of my coworkers waving her arms wildly and motioning for me to hush. She was pointing towards my cabin, and then motioning to me to come over to her. I scurried over to her across the dirt road, and right next to my cabin I spotted an adult brown bear with two tiny spring cubs in tow! My first spring cubs!
They were both black with the characteristic natal collar, and all grazing on the grass between the cabins. The cubs were easily distracted, and poked around nearby, hopping up on my neighbor’s porch, and then back down again, peeking in the crawlspace under the building, and then standing up to look around. I have never seen anything so cute in my life. I will never be the same! HOW are they so cute??
I couldn’t get back to my cabin because they were right in front of it, and we were trying to stay 50 yards away, while still being able to see them. We watched them for a long time before we heard voices coming from the short cut trail again, and my coworker ran over and began her frantic arm motions to get the newcomers to quiet down and come over to group up with us. A few more folks had come down from Brooks Lake, their mouths agape when they saw the young family of bears.
It turned out to be bear 909, a 5-year-old female, and this was her first litter. Bears can have cubs as early as age 5, but most wait until they’re 7 or 8.
They grazed on grass, checked out the construction equipment parked nearby, and zoomed in circles chasing after each other. Eventually I was able to get into my cabin to grab my camera, although I didn’t have time to finesse the settings for the low light and fast bears (hence, all these blurry photos).
All in all, they played around our cabins for about 2 hours, of which I got to observe about the last 45 minutes of it. What a treat!
I was still riding that high today when I roved down to the falls in the afternoon, tired of being on the computer. I said hi to a nice family that was standing there, and answered some questions they had about the ducks that were hanging around.
Then something caught my eye across the river, at the base of a boulder in the water. I pulled out my rangefinder for a better look.
“There’s otter over there!” I exclaimed, as soon as I could see it. A river otter was swimming, diving, twisting, and twirling around the rock. The visitors snapped to attention as I pointed it out, almost as excited as I was. My only disappointment was that I didn’t have my camera with me this time.
We watched it for a while as it swam right up to the falls and disappeared in the froth. It made an appearance in the middle of the river before diving down again, and I didn’t see it again after that point. I couldn’t believe my luck. I have no idea how I spotted that, or how many times I’ve stood at that spot and not seen an otter swimming around the falls, but it felt so special. I’m not sure I’ll ever see it again, because soon the bears will begin coming to fish at the falls, and will likely push out the otters.
Speaking of which, solstice begins in the next 2 days, and supposedly the salmon will start showing up around then. I cannot wait to see what the run will look like here.