Bear Fortress

Aki is in Sitka. She and I flew here from Juneau yesterday. It was over 80 degrees when we left Juneau and 65 here. The little dog had two firsts today—tasting salmon berries and sniffing brown bear poop. On her home trails in Juneau, she has intimidated black bears. That won’t fly with these Sitka brown bears. Rather than standing tall and yelling, which works with black bears, the only way to survive a brown bear attack is to play dead.

Before the hike, I visited the Fortress of the Bears. Aki stayed in the car. The fortress founder has filled the scoured out mixing tanks of a defunct pulp mill with orphaned black and brown bears. Except for a clownish black bear, the critters in the fortress have retained their natural dignity. From a safe view point above the tanks, you can watch the bears feed and wrestle with driftwood logs. Ravens and eagles skulk in the trees that line the tank enclosures. I enjoy the views but was thankful not to share them with the little poodle-mix.

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