More Bears and Birds

Yep – I’m going to continue to bore you with my favorite critters: bears and birds (but mostly bears).

Grass still makes for a good snack when you’re waiting for the tide to bring more fish into the creek…

…until you hear some splashing and make a dash for the sound…

But sometimes it just pays to sit and be patient.

Keep an eye on those ravens – they will work together to try and steal some of your fish!

There’s other competition in the creek, but at least the heron can’t manage to swallow a nice big salmon.

Why catch your own when you might steal someone else’s fish?

Or chill out while you wait for Mom to catch one for you…

…and snack on some grass.

At least the bears provide some entertainment for the kittiwake!

It’s just another day at Pack Creek!

Pretend It’s Still Summer

We’re in that ugly phase of Winter, when the landscape is just rather dreary and we’re waiting not-so-patiently for Spring. There just hasn’t been that much to photograph – the trails are soggy and boggy, wooden boardwalks are wet and slippery, and we either want the kind of snow we can go play in, or we want flowers to burst forth. I got so far behind on editing photos from the Summer, that I’ve decided to relive a bit of it and share some scenes from August.

Ice from the Sawyer Glaciers at the head of Tracy Arm tends to be intensely blue… sometimes it’s the only real color on a monochrome, overcast day. The tide moves these big icebergs around, and if they’re lucky they will escape through the narrow cut between the shallow bars are the entrance to the Arm and float around in the passages, like this one.

We had to hide in an anchorage for a week while nasty storms blew, waiting for a break so we could head up to Pack Creek to see bears. Yes, more bears. There will never be enough bears for me. Good thing Jim enjoys them too!

Nap interrupted

The fishing was slowing down as the season progressed, but a few bears were still out in the creek as the incoming tide brought more fish up the creek.

Standing gives a better angle of view, helping to spot those tasty salmon!

This pair of second year cubs decided it was easier to try and steal someone else’s fish than chase after their own. At this point in their lives they should be less dependent, but these two were quite the opportunists.

Although the fishing action was pretty far from us, the deer strolling by were almost close enough to touch.

Fawn, still with spots

Anywhere there are fish (pretty much everywhere!) there will be eagles, like this young one…

…and this kingfisher that hung out on the bow rails of the boat for a while. I love their beautiful coloring and expressive, spiky head feathers.

Proof of Life

Once again, the Blog has been neglected – we get busy, and there hasn’t been as much to photograph for a while. I’ve started receiving emails from friends asking for “proof of life” since the Blog appeared to be dormant. Rest assured, we are well… just a little overwhelmed by a long stretch of difficult weather.

First, it started snowing just after Thanksgiving, and it didn’t stop until about mid-January. The snow piles got pretty big… and we were pretty exhausted.

We had single digit temperatures for weeks – which is very unusual for here. The snow was so deep and so light and fluffy that my attempts to snow shoe were a little scary – it wouldn’t have mattered how big the shoes were. I stuck to some packed areas where snowmobiles had been running. Still, the view of the Coastal Mountains and Frederick Sound are worth it, and nothing makes me happier than being outside.

The super cold temperatures gave us some pretty frost formations – everywhere I turned there was something different.

For about six weeks, we moved snow around every single day – which left little time to get out and photograph. When the snow finally stopped, it warmed up to almost 40 degrees F and started to rain, creating a thick layer of ice underneath everything. After a few weeks of that, the snow piles are shrinking, a few optimistic plants think that Spring may be in the offing, and we can finally venture out on foot without fear of slipping on the ice. Winter isn’t over yet, but we’re long overdue for a break from the worst of it and it’s good to be outside without a shovel in hand.

People wonder why we want to live here, and this Winter has certainly been less fun than usual, but it is so breathtakingly beautiful… we can’t resist!

Enjoy this little one-minute drone video showing a little of Winter’s beauty from the water.

3 Seconds

Today is the Winter Solstice. It’s a big deal around here – it’s the shortest day of the year (with about six and a half hours of daylight), and that means starting tomorrow, every day will get a little longer. Tomorrow will be 3 seconds longer than today – every second counts! We’re lucky to have daylight – unlike those in the Far North who haven’t seen the sun in a very long time, and they still have a long wait ahead of them.

Morning moon set over Bearclaw Mountain

We’ve been very busy recently, working on some volunteer projects at church, including replacing all the lights in the sanctuary. It was a big job over 2 weeks, with lots of exercise climbing up and down the scaffolding.

Now we’re focused on the holidays – feeling pretty Merry and Bright, though we’re tired from shoveling lots and lots of snow. We’ve had over six feet since the beginning of December, and none of it has melted. We’re running out of places to put it, when we can’t get it into the water. It sure is pretty though, living in a Winter Wonderland.

When he’s not shoveling, Jim has been baking up a storm, preparing six different kinds of holiday cookies to deliver to friends around town. This year he’s added Norwegian krumkake (pronounced “crum-ka-ka”), and we got together with friends so he could learn some tips for making them. Success!

We’re all decorated and lighted around here, feeling festive. I love putting out decorations such as this very special angel crocheted by my friend from something not much bigger than thread… wow!

Today was a uniquely Alaskan event – the annual state-wide holiday greetings on radio stations across the state. The FCC prohibits personal messages on the radio, except in Alaska. With so many people living off the grid, it’s a necessary means of communication. Even our local radio station (KFSK – Fish Head Radio) sometimes broadcasts “Muskeg Messages” to reach people in our area without reliable communications. But today is extra special and fun, with a 2-hour program where anyone in the state can call in to share holiday greetings to friends and family across the Great Land. Some greetings were spoken in one of the native languages, and we got to hear well wishes from places like Nome, Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Shismaref, Adak, and of course the North Pole! It’s a wonderful holiday tradition.

We enjoyed a few days’ break from snow, and the clear skies brought temps in the teens and 20s. Sunrises have been spectacular, and the best part is that we don’t have to get up early to see them. This photo was taken around 8:45am, just as the pre-dawn light crested the mountains. We send our warmest wishes to you for a Happy, Healthy Holiday season!