Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alaska Trip 2011: The Anan Bear Observatory

Day 22:  Exploring the Anan Bear Observatory and Thom's Place.  25-miles

We delayed our trip to the Anan Bear Observatory as long as possible, going to Petersburg & Wrangell first so that we could wait a bit longer.  The bears come to Anan Creek to eat Pink Salmon.  Unfortunately the Pinks have not started to come in yet...   We hoped that by waiting an extra week it might make a difference.  We did not see any bears.

Anan Creek has the largest run of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska; three-hundred thousand fish come here to spawn or be eaten by bears while trying.  Cindy really wanted to see the bears win!

The National Forest Service has built the Wildlife Observatory in one of the prettiest places I have ever been.   Pictures will not do this justice.  The Observatory consists of a shelter with great views, a photo blind, observation decks and a boardwalk leading the 3/4-mile in from shore.

The Anan Wildlife Observatory.  Click for larger image.

We anchored Cinnamon Girl in the shallow bay near the mouth of Anan Creek.  The Exploring Southeast Alaska book warns of poor holding here, and to have someone stay aboard and keep watch.  I took the American Tug over a 12-foot deep hump, and put out the anchor in 25-feet of water using 175-feet of chain, and then allowed the 10-knot wind to blow me back over the shallow hump with an in coming tide.  That way if the anchor drug, it would have to drag up hill.   She did not budge in the three hours we were there.   Stacey and Cindy took the dinghy in and went up the trail, I stayed aboard.  Later Stacey came out and I had my turn at the Observatory.

The dinghy approach is to a rocky shore, there is no beach, dock or float here.  We used an elastic "Anchor Buddy" to pull the dinghy back away from the shore after hopping out, and tying a long bow line around a rock.  This way the dinghy can stay safely in deeper water, and upon our return we can simply pull her back to the rocks and climb aboard.  

The Forest Service has a Ranger on site in July and August.  Permits are required from July 5th until August 25th, that must be the time to visit...  There are plenty of bears in the area with fresh scat all over.  We made lots of noise while hiking up the boardwalk.

River Otters in Anan Creek.  They were playing while we were there.

This is what my pictures were supposed to look like, photo borrowed from NFS gallery.

This is a very cool place even without seeing any Blacks or Browns.  With bears I am certain that it would be the highlight of our entire trip.  We will come back.

Cindy shooting Eagle photos.  The Eagles are also ready for the Pinks to arrive.

Our evening anchorage was Thom's Place, a new and undeveloped marine park.  Thom's Place is beautiful, full of crab, good holding, empty.  It is a fairly large bay and not particularly protected.  

Thom's Place at midnight. 

Day 22 was a treat.  I had fun messing around in boats.  Cindy and I look forward to visiting Anan again.

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