Our route and current location: [Note - I forgot to turn on tracking for a while - the track is discontinuous but does pick up later]
For those following along at home - and at work - the Sail Blog app is just a straight line, giving our anchored locations - where we end for the day. The Garmin track linked above, which starts in Powell River, gives a fairly continuous track of our travels; showing the ins and outs (and backtracking) we are doing. Also you will notice that the dates of the writing may seem a little off. Entries get written when there is a good internet connection and may reflect that date. We will try to start putting the date(s) we are at a specific location into the heading.
We could not find a good place to anchor the boat at the Observatory, so Kirsten graciously offered to drive the boat around while I took the dinghy in to see the bears. This was big on my list of things to do, but not so much hers. Nonetheless, I very much appreciated the opportunity to go.
The Anan Bear Observatory is one of those unique things that draw people from all over the world. Anan Creek is a very prolific salmon spawning stream on the mainland and the multitude of bears on the island take full advantage of it. The National Park Service (NPS) runs the Observatory and limits the number of visitors per day so as not to intrude too much into the normal habits of the bears. We had contacted them on the radio prior to driving to the Creek, and they did have a few permits left for just day trips. The vast majority of visitors arrive by commercial outfitter, be it by boat of float plane, so we (I) felt pretty lucky.
The NPS has built a sophisticated 'tree house' or overlook for visitors to watch the bears while they are at the creek and it provides a very nice platform for observation and photography. The only issue is the "short" ½ mile hike on the boardwalk trail to the actual observatory goes right through where the bears live. There are usually no encounters, but still the bears are not fenced out at all - so you walk along speaking out loud and calling 'hey bear' or blowing a whistle so you don't come around a corner and startle one! Upon arriving at the Observatory, you go inside a gate - like a garden variety three foot high fence - and onto the open platform. The bears are free roam about the place, not on the platform, and several trails cross directly under the platform. When the bears are that close, you are supposed to stay back from the edge of the railing and not look directly down on the bears. Still, several were close enough that someone (not me) could have reached out and touched one. No one did, and there were no unusual events while I was there nor did I hear of any that had occurred there.
A very unusual feature at Anan, is that both brown bears (grizzlies is a common name for them) and black bears eat in the same location at the same time. There may be others, but this is the only one I have heard of. While I was there, two mother black bears, one with two cubs and one with just one, were feeding at the same time as a younger brown bear. There were no conflicts and I believe it is due to the abundance of food. I did hear from some other visitors that had been there previously, that if an adult male brown bear comes in, he usually chases off the black bears, but that did not occur this time. The mother bears seemed to be the best at catching fish. The younger brown bear (like 3 to 4 years old) caught a couple but didn't seem to realize that they would slip off the rocks if he took his paw off them. He must have been sleeping during that lesson.
I have many photos which are in the photo section as well as several videos I will try to upload when we have a good high speed internet connection.
After a while I came back out and took the dinghy out to meet Kirsten (what a woman!). We tied up the dinghy and motored over to Maden Bay, our anchorage for the evening.