Bears and Boat Rides
June 12, 2019 – My heroes arrived precisely at 9:30 am in the medivac police boat. I had everything ready to load and it took about five minutes to hand the three IKEA bags up and then walk the kayak to the back of the boat (I had my drysuit on for just that possibility) and lift it up to them, then climb up onto the boat. Away we went. After brief introductions, Roger mentioned that they had seen a bear around the corner on the way to my beach. It was working the driftlogs on the beach. As we rounded the corner, there it was, a young brown bear. It was literally ten feet behind where I had pitched my tent for two nights. Desmond, or Des, pulled the boat in close and all three of us had our cameras/phones out. The bear looked out at us as if to say, “oh please, not more picture taking tourists”, and tried to go back to its business of picking through driftlogs looking for goodies, but once it realized we weren’t moving on it decided to move on and out at the point where it would emerge on the other side of the point almost precicely where my campsite and I were just ten minutes earlier.
Once we were back moving again, Des said that this was the first grizzly he has ever seen, and he grew up here. All three of us were floating from the experience. Des has an interesting background. He spent 12 years working with youth and then moved into the EMT world and has been Fire Chief for the last 12 years. These past couple of weeks have been hard because there have been a number of plane crashes, the most recent he responded to where both people died. Roger has been Fisheries Enforcement Officer for 13 years. When he busts fisherpeople with more than they should legally have, he gives the confiscated fish to the senior center here at Metlakatla.
Yes, I’m in Metlakatla. In a sweet little room at the only lodging in Metlakala, The Inn at Metlakatla. After Roger and Des picked me up, we went to Ketchikan to pick up another person. The ferry between the two towns doesn’t run on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. So the medivac boat becomes the ferry. Des doesn’t mind one bit. In fact he talked about how a friend of his found another ride last Wednesday and he was hurt his friend didn’t ask him. That told me a lot about these guys. They really did come all the way out to Foggy Bay to save some stranger kayaker who was soggy, cold, and sleepless because it was the right thing to do. The both even mentioned that last night they were thinking of just coming out and gettting me, which is interesting because I was thinking last night as I shivered in my sleeping bag how nice it would be if they showed up early.
After the stop in Ketchikan we came to this pretty village on this beautiful island (Annette Island) where Dale, the owner of the Inn, met me with his truck, loaded up my IKEA bags and kayak and drove me to the Inn. Dale also owns a packer boat with his son, Richard. The gilnetters are not back on until Saturday, so tomorrow Dale and Richard will bring the packer in with Dale’s third business product – fireworks. He told me that Ketchikan just legalized fireworks and he is the sole dude with them in these parts. For those who don’t know what a packer is (as I didn’t know until Dale explained it to me). These boats go out to the gilnetters and take their loads so they can keep fishing, then take all the consolidated fish to the processors. He told me that the native gilnetters can’t legally take their catch to the processors in Ketchikan, but they can sell them to Dale and others like him and then keep fishing and make more money all the way around. BABS is currently loaded on Dale’s packer and they will give me a ride to Ketchikan in the morning. All I will need to do then is to get BABS to the ferry terminal to await Friday’s ride to Prince Rupert, then get me and my gear to the AirBnB I’ll stay at in Ketchikan tomorrow night.
While I’m not thrilled to be back in Ketchikan tomorrow and Friday, I’m at peace with it. At least I have kind new friends helping me get there, I’ll have had two cool rides around the inside passage in two very cool vessels. Which reminds me, saw a pod of harbor porpoises on the way back from Foggy Bay today.
Photos include my grizzly neighbor and some photos of Metlakatla.