21 July 2014 | Shelikof Straight
We are leaving Kaflia Bay on the Alaska Peninsula this morning. Stretched across the Shelikof Straight I can see the entire Kodiak Island chain in the distance. It's another beautiful day. We've spent the last four days exploring, bear viewing, picking salmon berries and just plain ogling the overwhelming scenery in one of Alaska's true gems - Geographic Harbor. Lush green mountains thrust steeply from the emerald sea, their tops still covered with thick volcanic ash from the huge novarupta eruption in 1912. Volumes of this coarse ash form light tan colored beaches - giving the shallow waters a tropical appearance and we couldn't help but to take a swim at one. Though the tides weren't quite low enough for clamming, it didn't stop the bears from strolling along the beaches and we were constantly on the lookout, shouting "hey bear, ho bear." We watched numerous fluffy sows with anywhere from one to three roly-poly cubs. On one small beach, several bears congregated near a dead sea mammal, posturing and challenging one another for the right to feed. It seemed one male bear was the king though and he guarded the feed with bravado while the others gazed on yearningly. We watched him pull great hunks of fat from the carcass - stuffing himself for hours. Exploring the shallow lagoons by dinghy, we stuffed ourselves with huge bright salmon berries, saving some for pancakes and pie! We met the fish and wildlife volunteers, Dan and Mary - the only seasonal inhabitants of Geographic Harbor and they told us of an archeological dig going on at Takli Island where they have found artifacts from settlements dating back 4000 years or more. In short, I could spend the whole summer right here.. But the tick of the clock is becoming more audible as we near the end of our journey. So we moved up the coast another 20-miles last night, stopping at Kaflia Bay (the very site where Timothy Treadwell - aka grizzly man and his girlfriend Amy, were killed and eaten by a particularly hungry brown bear.) We dropped the hook near a perfect sand beach in bright emerald water. Mountains rose straight up around us and we watched huge schools of salmon fry roll around the boat. I commented "look at the water. It's just so amazingly beautiful." Lolo said "wow, look at this place. Wow!" Slightly mocking us, Piper said "look - it's just so.....normal." I guess we can tell we've been away for two years. It's true we've seen some really spectacular, beautiful and amazing places. Though I've lived in Alaska for nearly fifty years, I am still humbled and awed by this place and it makes me so happy to know that the most spectacular and amazing place we've seen on our trip..is the very place we call home. I am reminded of a quote I once read which seems to ring true: "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where we started. And to know the place for the first time." -T.S. Elliot, "Little Gidding"