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Talkeetna Zipline Adventure from Anchorage
"Start your day with pickup at your Anchorage hotel and head off to your zipline adventure in Talkeetna a historic railroad town and popular gateway to the wilderness. Your guide will fill you in on Talkeetna’s vibrant history of gold mining and mountaineers and other quirky characters over lunch in town. The region’s tall rugged mountains gently flowing rivers and abundant wildlife make it a nature sightseeing haven. And one of the best ways to see an exciting overview of it is by soaring through the air on a zipline. After a basic orientation head to the scenic mountains above town and strap into your zipline gear. For the next 3 hours you’ll have a bird’s-eye view as you fly from one platform to the next. Zip across nine lines zooming through the canopy. Wiggle across three suspension bridges and step down a spiral staircase for different perspectives on the nature surrounding you. Throughout the tour you’ll be in awe of the boreal forest. The pace blends speed with time t
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Tongass Rainforest Hiking Expedition
"After meeting your small-group on the dock you'll be driven by private van to the wilderness trailhead. Located in a remote location you will hike on an unpaved mostly level wilderness trail with no steps. You don’t need special footwear. The peace of the rainforest surroundings is yours while you admire the ancient forest and giant trees of the Tongass National Forest. You will walk approximately 3 mile lines noise and civilization. Your first stop is at a meadow
From $99.00
Alaskan Heritage Tour in Fairbanks
"After pickup from your Fairbanks hotel your guide will take you to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center located on the banks of the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks. Named after an Alaska native and political leader this community center celebrates native Alaskan culture and natural history through interesting exhibits indigenous art and tools and life-sized panoramas depicting Alaska’s wildlife and landscapes throughout the seasons. After about an hour here head to University of Alaska Museum of the North whose immersive exhibits tell the story of Alaska’s natural
From $99.00

Wildlife Tips (18)

My Encounter with a Grizzly Bear

I was taking a mid-afternoon hike in early August along the beautiful Savage River Loop Trail in Denali National Park, and was not more than half a mile from returning to the parking lot where I had left my vehicle. Grizzly Bear was on my mind because I had seen one from the highway just an hour earlier, a couple of miles or so before reaching the place where I was now.

As I topped a rise on the trail I saw six people in front of me standing perfectly still, their eyes fixed on something ahead. In a hushed but urgent tone they motioned for me to stop and look. There, perhaps 200 yards ahead and directly on the trail was a large grizzly bear. He was intent on digging a hole into which he sank his entire front limbs and head. I presumed he was digging up an arctic ground squirrel since I had seen a few of them in the area. It was obvious that the bear was hungry to be digging for his dinner so intently.

Tingling with excitement, I pulled the bear in as close as possible with my camera, wishing I had a better telephoto lens. At this point I did not yet know that I would soon be much too close to the grizzly for comfort.

Part 1 or 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

Beware of Bears

Bears are everywhere as this is the wilderness. As one guide put it while we were in the backcountry: "you don't know what's watching you while you're out here." Generally, bears avoid people. At least, that;s what most locals say. However, if you read Bear Tales, you'll get a different (and scarier!) perspective.

As much as I wanted to see bears, I didn't want to run into any while solo hiking. I was glad to see them from a safe distance.

The picture below shows a poster which describes how to act in various scenes when encountering a bear.

If all else fails, follow the advice of Bill Bryson: "My advice is that, if a bear charges you, run. If nothing else, it will give you something to do with the last eight seconds of your life."

goingsolo's Profile Photo
Jun 21, 2007

Don't moose around

Moose are abundant and can be aggressive in Alaska. We learned all kinds of good self-preservation tips from our guides at the Denali Backcountry Lodge. If you suddenly come upon a moose as you are hiking out in the wild, turn around and run away. Change direction and run in a zig zag fashion. Moose cannot run far or change direction easily - you can easily outrun a moose. They will tire of the chase very quickly.

Now, a grizzly on the other hand, is a different matter. Talk to the bear. (Seriously.) Wave your arms and make yourself look big. You may try to back away slowly diagonally, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. (Sheesh. Easier said than done.) Don't run because you can't outrun a bear. They have been clocked at speeds up to 35 mph, and will chase fleeing animals (or people). Bears often make bluff charges, sometimes to within 10 feet of their target, without making contact. Continue waving your arms and talking to the bear. If the bear gets too close, raise your voice and be more aggressive. Bang pots and pans (and of course we all carry around a set with us). Use noisemakers. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeak.

Now please try to keep those two self-preservation measures straight, and don't confuse them, or you could be a bear or moose casualty.

karenincalifornia's Profile Photo
May 23, 2006

Now He's Coming After Me!

The hiker on the opposite shore was successful in frightening the bear away the second time, and now the grizzly continued downhill, crossing the river again to my side and coming directly toward me. All this while I had been walking slowly back toward the trailhead, and was now within about 200 yards of a small ranger station which sits beside the highway there. I was much closer to the bear than to the safety of the building, which was not much larger than a toll booth. Through the windows I could see that it was already packed with other hikers. A brave park ranger came out to meet me, urging me get back to the safety of the building, which I was only too eager to do. "Hurry, but don't run or walk too fast, " the ranger shouted. Doing so might have triggered the beast's instinct to chase.

I walked steadily, but it seemed to take forever. All the while the grizzly was closing the gap between us. At this point I felt like changing my tune to Nearer My God to Thee., the last song the orchestra was playing as the Titanic went down. Instead I just shouted bear gibberish. Walking backward and waving one hand over my head, I took this photo which I prayed wouldn't be my last.

Part 7 of 9

For dramatic effect click the web link below.

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 27, 2005
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Safe at Last, The Grizzly Retreats

By the time I reached the safety of the ranger station the grizzly was about 20 feet behind me. Someone from the inside opened the door just in time for me to duck inside.
At last, with the door slammed in the grizzly's face, I watched through the window as he lumbered on by. The bear then turned and walked up the road for a short distance before disappearing again into the fastness of the Denali wilderness. I stayed put until the ranger assured me that the grizzly was far out of sight.

Part 8 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 27, 2005

The Grizzly Seems to Be Leaving

As quickly as the grizzly had charged the man, he stopped, turned, and bounded up the hill away from the river. Breathing a sigh of relief, I thought the encounter was over. But I was wrong.

Part 5 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 21, 2005

The Grizzly Advances as I Retreat

Suddenly the Grizzly backed out of the hole he had been digging, apparently unable to unearth the ground squirrel. He turned, looked toward us, and then began to lumber in our direction. His gait quickly turned to a lope, and he closed the gap between us in a very few seconds.

The six people I was with included one older couple, and a young family of four. The older couple stood their ground, muttering something about being native Alaskans and having seen Grizzlys in the wild before. The family (man, wife, son and daughter) began a very fast walk back down the trail, away from the road and our parked vehicles.

I backed away more slowly, singing loudly and not caring how badly it sounded, just so long as the grizzly heard: I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track ... Valderee, Valderah ... my knapsack on my back. Bears have poor eyesight but very keen senses of smell and hearing. I felt that as soon as the bear recognized we were humans he would turn off the trail and avoid us.

To my horror, the bear continued to advance. At this point the older coulple were about 30 feet closer to the grizzly than I was and the young family was disappearing around the bend in the trail behind me. The older man was trying to take a picture, while his wife waved her arms franically and shouted at the bruin. This is exactly what all the books tell you to do in a such an encounter. The purpose for lifting your hands is to appear as tall as possible to the beast, and since the wild creature is not familiar with the sound of a human voice, the shouting is to frighten it.

Part 2 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 21, 2005

Grizzly Leaves the Trail and Crosses River

The bear approached, now slowly, to within 8 or 10 feet from the couple. The man quit taking pictures and joined his wife in yelling and flailing his arms. Apparently the trick worked. The bruin, looking a bit confused, turned and bounded off the trail and into the river. Although it does not show too well in this photo, the Savage River was swift- flowing and probably four feet deep at this point. However, the grizzly bounced easily through the water, over a gravel bank, and up the hill on the other side.

Part 3 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 20, 2005

Top 5 Denali National Park and Preserve Writers

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"The High One and Higher Expectations"
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"Denali National Park"
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"Denali National Park - The Great One"
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"Denali: America's Most Accessible True Wilderness"
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"Denali National Park"
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The Grizzly Suddenly Turns and Charges Again

After climbing uphill for about 40 feet, the grizzly stopped and paused for a moment. He then turned, and shot back down the mountain even faster than his first charge. My heart lept into my throat. I felt sure I was within a a millisecond of witnessing the poor hiker's demise. But a second time the bruin stopped. He looked to me to have been close enough that the frightened man could smell the stench of the bear's breath. It amazes me that a 600-pound bruin could accelerate and then stop so quickly.

Part 6 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 20, 2005

Caught Speeding, Under the Influence of Adrenalin

Shortly after the bear affair I was driving out of the park. My heart was still racing from the encounter with the grizzly and my whole body must have been flushed with adrenalin.

That's when I saw him in the rear view mirror - a park ranger, blue light flashing, motioning for me to pull over. "No, Sir," I told him, "I had no idea I was going 15 mph over the speed limit." I went on to explain to the officer that I never speed. In fact, I told him, my wife and children all call me "Pokey" because I'm always driving so slowly.

The ranger wasn't impressed, so I continued, "I've just been chased half-a-mile by a grizzly bear," I told him, "Look here!" I showed the officer the photos on my digital camera. That's when he accused me of stalking the bear and provoking him in order to get a once-in-a-lifetime photo. He told me about another man whose remains had been found elsewhere in Alaska. Beside that man's scattered bones and blood-stained, shredded clothing was his digital camera containing the last pictures he had ever taken, "They were remarkably like your own photos," the ranger told me. He accused me sternly, "You could have gotten yourself killed."

By this time I was shaking. How dare the ranger accuse me of stalking the bear, when I was the one who had been stalked. I had just been through one of the most harrowing experiences of my life, and here he was suggesting it was somehow my own fault.

"OK, OK," the ranger said, just calm down. I believe you; I'll let you go this time." But first he asked if I would stay there long enough to tell my story to a park biologist. He sent a radio message and 15 minutes later we were joined on the side of the road by a studious looking man who was very interested in hearing a detailed retelling of the bear encounter. He told me this was unusually aggressive behavior for a grizzly in Denali National Park, and he closely examined my photos to see if he could identify the particular bear involved. Then I was released, and drove north.

New adventures awaited.

Part 9 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 18, 2005

Grizzly Charges Lone Hiker on Opposite Bank

Up the bank on the other side of the river was the front half of the loop trail, where I had been hiking just 30 minutes earlier. I looked over and saw that there were several other vacationers on this section of trail. Closest to where the bear emerged from the river was a lone male hiker.

The grizzly approached this man even more agressively than he had the couple, appearing to me to be aggitated by this second human encounter. The bear made a bluff charge to within a few feet of the man, then stopped suddenly. Apparently the man had read the same instructions for scaring away a bear that we had because he was clawing at the sky and yelling loudly, "Shoo, bear, shoo; go away, bear!"

While taking advantage of the situation to make tracks back toward the trailhead, I stopped just long enough to take this shot, praying all the while for the man's safety. Although in this photo it appears that I am on the same side of the river as the bear, actually I was shooting across the river, which makes a bend at this point.

Part 4 of 9

Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
Jul 16, 2005


Eh, don't's just a bear with huge teeth and claws to shred you apart!

Ok, so yes....they are scary. However, they are made out to be ferrocius. Truth is, bears don't want contact with humans. They only attack when made to feel defensive. ie. You walk up on them around a carcas, or their sows. Or perhaps them.

There are many trails you can take wherever you are in Alaska. It's not always easy to see them until perhaps too late. This is why it is recommended to wear a bell on you, shout as you go here and there, and carry either pepper spray ( i know, that sounds funny, I'm still trying to accept that myself), or possibly a gun.

If you take a tour, you don't have to worry. If you go hiking, then it's a possibility. More people are killed every year by lightening than by bears. Alaska has the highest concentration of bears, along with B.C. in Northern America.

I recently bought a book on Bear attacks, and being from Florida and never encountering a bear, or being in that possibility, I figured it would be a good idea. I'd recommend educating yourself before hiking with the possibility of meeting a bear.

May 18, 2005

Things to Do Near Denali National Park and Preserve

Things to Do

Tundra Wilderness Tour

Take a Denali Park tour in a converted school bus. Private cars are only allowed to Mile 15 on the Park Road, so busses are the way to see it. Terry was an entertaining guide, and good at spotting...
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Things to Do

Mt. McKinley

We were at the park for three days and took the Holland America excursion into the park on a cloudy but dry day. Photographers: be alert for even on those days Denali may peek out for a few minutes....
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Getting to Denali National Park and Preserve


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