Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Bear practicalities

October 8th, 2011

Whether we’d got it right or not, it did seem to be working. The bear precautions Mike and I had taken been a great success. Too much so. Never saw a single one in all of Alaska, Canada’s Yukon Province and northern British Columbia. Not one. Other than in captivity.

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Not that we’d gone to extremes to deter bears. Sought to balance risk against simple practicalities. Keeping our food away from the tents. Each securing our stash in waterproof dry bags, the contents packed in special odour proof plastic bags. We’d avoided using deodorant, adhering to the principle it’s best to smell err.. human.

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Some had suggested you should have only the absolute minimum in the tent – sleeping bag, mat – and bear spray of course. Premise being toothbrushes, plastics and a plethora of other manmade items emit odours that could attract unwelcome visitors. We’d both balked at this, fearful that placing most of our kit away from our camp would simply get it stolen. By two legged miscreants. Besides, we were hopeful the food stash would draw the bears away from us.

Sourdoughcamp

There’d been conflicting advice as whether it was best to wild camp or use an established site. The former meant you were on your own, admittedly amongst bears who’d usually no interest in people, whereas the latter appeared to offer safety in numbers. That said, if food had been habitually left out, there was a real risk you might encounter a garbage bear – one conditioned to forage amongst humans.

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Much of the time we’d had to stow our food bags on the ground, or just off it to avoid pilfering by the smaller critters, rather than suspend it from a high tree branch far out from the trunk. Wrong sort of trees. We’d generally cooked away from the tents. But as for showering and changing one’s clothes before retiring for the night. Often impractical.

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So, what had I settled on? Keep my food a hundred metres or so from the tent. Remainder of my kit stowed in the panniers under the fly sheet. Bear spray always to hand, together with a knife should I have a violent encounter with a black bear, and satellite telephone in case I need to call the cavalry. Preference for wild camping, or clean, organised site amongst, or close, to towns or villages. And always cook away from the tent. Sensible precautions rather than simple paranoia.

[Canada’s Yukon Government produce an excellent pocket sized guide entitled "How you can stay safe in bear country" – by far the best read I’ve found on the subject – visit them at www.environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca]

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Marty and Pat

October 8th, 2011

Marty and Pat

Our third encounter. Just as I was about to enter a supermarket in Prince Rupert, they emerging. I’d originally met them back on the Haines Road, in Canada’s Yukon Province, a week or so back. Their large RV – recreational vehicle – parked in a small lay-by. I’d pulled in for a short break, conscious I’d still a fair way to go to make my ferry the next day.

There’d been a brief exchange of pleasantries. Marty and Pat. They had a daughter living in Guildford. And they’d lived in England themselves for a while. But no let up in the rain, so I’d headed off before I got too cold, and they took shelter in their RV. Also heading for Haines, but told there was no space left on the ferry south.

Next day onboard the M/V Matanuska I’d been caught by surprise. "Was I the cyclist we’d met?" asked Marty, for by now I’d showered and changed into more orthodox clothing. "Yes" I replied, adding I always sought to scrub up and use deodorant when amongst people. And, despite advice to the contrary, they’d managed to secure a place on the ferry. Heading south to spend a few days around the small port of Wrangell.

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Tied up in Ketchikan

October 6th, 2011

Tied up in Ketchikan from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken, by now an old sea dog, makes a brief stop in the small port of Ketchikan, along Alaska’s Inner Passage. Be advised, this clip contains some terrible nautical humour..

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Alongside in Wrangell

October 6th, 2011

Alongside in Wrangell from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken makes a brief stop in Wrangell, a small port along Alaska’s Inner Passage

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Petersburg in the rain

October 6th, 2011

Petersburg in the rain from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Admire a wet Petersburg from the warmth of the ferry’s cafeteria. Ken did..

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Into Juneau

October 6th, 2011

Into Juneau from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken makes a brief stop in Juneau, Alaska’s Capital. But you already knew that…

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Coffee wobbles

October 6th, 2011

Coffee wobbles from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Join Ken all at sea celebrating completion of the first leg of North America

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Alaska’s Inner Passage

October 6th, 2011

Alaska’s Inner Passage from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken is embarrassed to discover that after a while, majestic panoramas, sweeping views and hanging ice fields all tend to blur a bit. Which is a little outrageous.. If only there were wild bears…

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More cabin fever

October 5th, 2011

More cabin fever from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken’s taken a cabin onboard, and turned it into drying room for a couple of nights. You’ll be glad you weren’t sharing with him.. Actually, he’d been offered a second cabin key, just in case he "Got lucky".

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Flying the flag

October 5th, 2011

Matanuskaflag

Onboard the M/V Matanuska, sailing from Haines, Alaska to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

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