What to do around bears???
My sister and I went to Cooper Landing so that we can hike the Russian Trail. There was still some very slippery ice on the trail and we had to go around those --- and then, at one point, we heard some rustling of some creature near us and we got scared it might be a bear. Due to too much ice, we decided to head back.
But I was asking my sister if she knew what to do if we did see a bear -- and we both did not know!
Well, scats and tracks are indications that bears are nearby. What you could do is CLAP, TALK LOUDLY, BANG TWO STONES, WEAR CHIMES.
And of course, they always say DO NOT RUN - stand your ground, clap, yell and let the bear know that he is entering "your space".
An aggressive response from a bear is when they are scared and it is simply protecting itself and possibly its cubs.
And never allow them to get to your food or garbage when you are camping.Related to:
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
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After being in Alaska for a while and experiencing the wilderness, we got experienced at identifying droppings and also avoiding stepping on them...but still, most of the droppings we saw were UDO's (Unidentified Dropped Objects).
Moose droppings look very circular and like a small easter egg chocolate. It has the same shape of the sun-dried dropping from some animal we saw in the wild in Cape Town, South Africa (I put that dried dropping in my mouth for a contest as to who could shoot the dropping as far as possible - I did not win...)
But the moose droppings here are still moist (not dry as in Africa) and so I don't think it's wise to play that game ---- but there is Moose Dropping Festival believe it or not held at Talkeetna - very interesting (talkeetnachamber.org)
In Alaska much of the road construction must be done during the summer months. It is also the busiest time tourist-wise. Main highways, like the Seward Highway, are still mostly just two lanes. If construction blocks one lane, traffic can really back up. I got caught in a line on the Seward Highway. It was about a 45 minute wait. Also watch out after you do get through the construction. There are always a few impatient drivers trying to make up the lost time by passing in places you would not believe.Related to:
- Road Trip
If you're using the Alaska Marine Highway and want to get closest to Anchorage, you probably will get off at Whittier. Do not let this be a lasting impression of Alaska. Whittier. I don't even know what to say about it. It's been described by other VTers as "creepy" and I think that about sums it up.
It's technically connected by road to Anchorage but you have to use a toll tunnel to get through and when you emerge out to the Whittier side, you'll probably say, "why did I do this?"
The setting is pretty--a town on the water with ferry and road access should excel, but it doesn't. Everyone used to live in this one building, a communist looking highrise but after the earthquake, they had to leave it. So now, they live in another highrise and can't afford to knock the first one down. It sits atop a hill looming over the town, in all its creepiness. When we visited, it was gloomy and we saw practically nobody--giving it even more of an eerie feel. Businesses were closed down, some never to reopen in the summer. The few that will open still offer you with little to do in this place.
For more information, go to Bobby's Whittier Page. He does a great job showing you this town.
Dog sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier
This tip is in relation to my 'Things to do' tip of the same title.
Be warned that, if the weather is not good, or looks like it might turn for the worst, your pre-booked dog sledding trip may be cancelled. Money is refunded, but it is still very disappointing. It is better to be prepared for the worst, as when we visited Juneau, we didn't even consider cancellation to be a possibility. We were lucky, and had a fantastic experience but lots of other people had their sledding cancelled in Skagway.
It may be possible to book on another, later flight to the glacier, but often the helicopters are full.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Alaska isn't realllllly bad on crime, however my husband and I are being stationed (military) from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to Tinker AFB Oklahoma in June 2007... And I am having one heck of a time trying to make sure we don't move into a "bad neighborhood".... So, I figure I could post this for anyone looking into moving into Alaska for their own personal info...
Neighborhoods you kinda probably don't want to move to unless you have to. (they are all low-income housing areas...)
Mt. View (near Mt. View Drive, and the Air Force Base)
Fairview (this is on the outskirts of downtown, but is all low-income housing)
Mid-town (this is "central" Anchorage... which does have many businesses; stores, banks, etc... but again, low income housing.)
Government Hill, is located right off the port, and is a considerably small neighborhood, but is nothing but apartments, and low-income housing....
If you can find a place that is not surrounded by apartment buildings, you should be o.k!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Study Abroad
- Family Travel
Leave what you find!
While hiking stay on the main trail to protect nature and don't wander off by yourself. Steer clear of flowers or small trees. Once hurt, they may not grow back! Use existing camp areas at least 100 steps from roads, trails and water. Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so the next person can enjoy them. Treat living plants with respect. Hacking or peeling plants can kill them. Good campsites are found not made! Do not dig trenches or build structures in your campsite.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Be Careful with Fire!
Use a camp stove for cooking. It's easier to cook on and clean up than a fire. Be sure it's okay to build a campfire in the area you're visiting. Use an exisiting fire ring to protect the ground from heat. Keep your fire small. Remember, campfires are not for trash or food. Do not snap branches off live, dead, or downed trees. Instead, collect loose sticks from the ground. Burn all wood to ash and be sure that fire is completely out and cold before you leave. It was sad to see the fireweeds instead of forests all over the Yukon and Alaska. Forest fires are serious problems all over the State.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Pack out your trash!
Pack your trash. Put litter in trash cans or carry it home. Use bathrooms or outhouses when available. If you have to go act like a cat and bury poop in a small hole 4-8 inches deep and 100 big steps from water. Place your toilet paper in a plastic bag and put the bag in a garbage can back home. Keep water clean. Do no put soap, food, or poop in lakes or streams.
Carry out all the trash you hike with. Animals may try to eat discarded litter. Garbage attracts bears; keep a clean campsite. Litter can also entangle or trap wildlife, especially fishing line.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Observe animals from a distance and never approach, feed or follow them! Human food is unhealthy for all animals and feeding them starts bad habits. Protect wildlife and your food by storing your meals and trash. Control pets at all times or leave them at home. I've seen several times that people was feeding small squirells just right next to a board "Do not feed or approach...". Why?! Avoid shouting, gesturing or otherwise disturbing animals. Never throw anything, including snowballs, at wild animals. Don’t get carried away with camera shots and do not corner wildlife. If an animal shows signs of being disturbed (ears back, eyes bugged out, hackled back, or alarm cries), give it lots of room.
Animals all over Alaska
Black bears, grizzly bears and many other wild animalslive all over Alaska. Be observant everywhere! There are thousands of descriptions on the net how to avoid bear encounters anyway i'll add a short summary. Do not interrupt the bears' feeding and give them plenty of space. It is the best to avoid all encounters with bears and others.
-Make noise, particulary where visibility is limited.
-Travel in groups, they're noisier and easier for bears to detect.
-Store food, trash and smelly items in a bear resistant food container, NEVER in your tent.
-Cook and store all food at least 100 yards from your tent.
Click on the following site to find out more and do not forget you are the visitor in their country and not on the contrary.
Watch for Night bears
Once outside of Anchorage I was camping for the evening and I was awoken at around 12:30am to the sound of huffs and puffs and teeth chattering- Well, I found out later that night that teeth chattering coming from a bear means that they are nervous and could quite possibly be turning dangerous. So, anyway, if you ever are near a bear and you are in the tent the best thing to do is to just stay quite. Unless of course it starts to destroy the tent with you in it. Then the best thing to do is to remain calm, then in a sudden rage, start making lots of noise by banging pots or pans or anything that will make the bear know it is a human inside that tent- usually once he establishes that he's gone quicker than a lizard drinking water. So, thats what I did and it did work. Thank God! The second thing is NEVER GO CAMPING ALONE!
Be careful out there/
I mentioned this on my Anchorage page, but it’s worth repeating. If you live in the lower 48 (US), maybe you’ve seen commercials that, in tiny letters, say “prices higher in Alaska and Hawaii” Are they ever! I can understand it out in the bush or in the towns that aren’t connected by roadway but here? It’s a major city, has roads in from Canada and eventually the states, airports with major cargo deliveries and the resources to obtain anything. But certain things are outrageous. Milk, which locally produced from the farms in the valley has an exorbitant price on it. Gas is expensive, eating out costs about 25% more than what it does at the same restaurant in the lower 48. It’s frustrating. I realize Alaska is separated and not easy to get to, but no doubt, people are making a killing by raising prices and attributing it the location. Anyway, expect to pay a lot for everything. You’ll find those bargains if you look hard enough but you’ll also find that in some of the port towns, there are prices for Alaskans or locals and then prices for tourists.
Don’t expect to find nice rest areas along the major roads. I guess considering the freezing temperatures and sewer system/permafrost issues, you’re lucky to have a place to go to the bathroom at all. Sometimes great distances are between gas stations with indoor restrooms but the roadside rests are plentiful. The ones with facilities are not. The ones that do have them are outhouses, though and privately maintained or not maintained. Pit toilets, that even in cold weather, smell pretty bad. These are usually found near state parks and often times, the ones labeled “wayside” are closed for the season if you’re not traveling in the summer. You should take on a more “backcountry camping” philosophy or at least prepare yourself in the event you have to hike a little to get the privacy of the trees. But, that’s Alaska and really, do you picture glorious roadside rests in this state? Probably not.
At Canadian Customs on the Alaska Highway
Taking the Alaska or Taylor highways to or from the Yukon Territory means unavoidable border crossing. Having crossed the US/Canada border numerous times in various locations, I knew what to expect so that in itself is not the reason for this warning. The process is standard. However, the lady for the Canada side of the border on the Alaska Highway was not. She was the most disgruntled government worker I’ve ever come across. Mean, mean, mean. She first asked us where we were from—expected question. Bobby said Alaska. She turned away, turned back at us and rolled her eyes. With an exaggerated sigh and then a scoff (completely unnecessary), she said, “Okay, I’m not blind so let’s try again.” We said Anchorage, this time. She rolled her eyes again. She asked where we were going and how long we’d be gone. At that point we didn’t know so we just said a couple days. She didn’t like that answer at all and slammed down her hand onto the table inside. Then she pointed at something in the back seat and said, “What is that back there?” Naturally, we had to look because we didn’t know what she was pointing at specifically. So, we turned. Lifting up our coats, we named off what we had (which wasn’t much). After we finished, she started raising her voice at us, saying, “Okay. I’m not back there. How about you turn to me and tell me again so I can actually understand you?” We went through the list of 5 items again. Her attitude was horrible and we were crestfallen; she was so mean to us. She threw our passports back at us and told us to go. Our moods were again elevated by the time we reached the first town and everyone else from the Yukon was so nice to us. It was just her. I can understand being cranky if she had a busy border crossing, but judging from the traffic and the wait, only 10 other vehicles—personal and commercial—could have crossed that day. The roads were empty.
On the return trip, the same questions were asked at the US border, but the lady was very nice.
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