Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hoonah to Tenakee Springs

Mr. X and I recently returned from a multi-day pack-rafting trip from Hoonah to Tenakee Springs with a short portage. This is billed as a 40 mile paddle, but we paddled quite directly and came up with 50 miles; we must have followed the shore more than that other guy, but that's okay 'cause I was shooting for my pack-rafting merit badge anyway (not really).

Hoonah and Tenakee Springs are on Chichagof Island, one of the ABC islands, which are known to have the highest concentrations of brown bear populations in the world. Most people say that the ratio is 1 bear per square mile, but I have read some people claim that for Chichagof it's 3 bears per square mile. Either way it's alot of bears. At one of the lectures we went to this past winter, the presenter said to think about it this way. How many Starbucks, McDonald's and Subways do you see as you're driving around in the lower 48? That's about what the frequency of bears in the ABC islands. We also learned that some people claim that the bears on the ABC islands are related to polar bears. During the last ice age, a female polar bear did lend her DNA to the bears in the area and their population has been disconnected from mainland bears for the last 40,000 years, but this does not mean that the bears have any unusual hybrid traits. They are browns/grizzlies.

The planning for the trip was fraught with ferry schedule woes, small plane fears, weather worries, bear terror, and cabin booking disappointments. But somehow we managed to listen to Collette at the Hoonah airport and were just fine once we got on the water -- well, mostly. 

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