The Grizzlies of Kluane

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Bears are not companions of men, but children of God-Charles Muir

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If I never, ever photograph another grizzly, I shall always count myself so very grateful that I stumbled upon this mother and her sweet babies in Kluane National Park.

After we left the Overland Trail we headed towards Kluane.  We had never been through this area  and we had no idea of what to expect.  We should have known it would be another place of extreme beauty-take your breath away beauty.  We knew we wanted to boon dock here so we were off in search of a spot.  As we were coming down the highway we were mesmerized by the Kluane Valley.  But not so mesmerized that we didn’t miss spotting our first grizzly !  Right on the side of the road-a juvenile-couldn’t figure out if the bear was male or female.  And I wasn’t going to get close enough to find out !

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We couldn’t believe our good fortune in spotting him ( I think he has the face of a male). We sat there for about 20 minutes just watching him nibble and dig for his food along the side of the road.

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We quietly pulled out and left him enjoying his roadside meal.  And our search for an overnight spot was on.  We were jabbering away about the grizzly and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the lake.

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We saw a little gravel pullout ahead and decided to check it out.  It was our first and only choice for the evening.  The spot was a winner in our books.  It was next to  Williscroft Creek-perfect.

 

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We had a view of the lake and we were surrounded by mountains.  Out little spot was just beyond a gravel pit off the road-don’t discount those gravel pits-you never know what is just over that pile of gravel !

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We spent the evening and a bit of the morning exploring around the base of the mountains and along the glacial stream.  Another gorgeous spot.  The beauty in this world continues to astound me and I feel so grateful to be able to experience it.

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After some morning coffee and oatmeal we got back on the highway.  I was looking over our map and our camping books for possible stops ahead.  I started reading about Congdon Creek Campground which was only 20 miles ahead.  We knew we wouldn’t spend the night .  But the book said that only RV camping was permitted because of the high concentration of grizzly bears-so of course we were off in search of more grizzlies !  We were less than a mile from the campground entrance when we spotted momma bear and her babies. We quickly pulled off the road about 75 yards away from them. It started to look like momma was going to take her babies into the close-by woods.

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I couldn’t believe our luck when she and her babies started to walk towards us.  I had my camera set up on a sandbag over the window frame and told Jim to keep his hands on the key to turn on the engine and close my window if she started to get too close .

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Because she was on my side of the road and out of Jim’s field of vision, there were times when he couldn’t see what was going on.  He figured it was something amazing because he said all he heard was the shutter release constantly going on my camera and all I kept say was Oh my God, Oh my God !  At one point, her and the babies were only 10 feet away from my window.

I have always believed grizzly bears are such special animals-there is a gentleness in the eyes  and a ferocity in their spirit.  If I came back as an animal it would either be a grizzly bear or an orca whale.

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Alive, the grizzly is a symbol of freedom and understanding – a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice. In its beleaguered condition, it is above all a symbol of what man is doing to the entire planet. If we can learn from these experiences, and learn rationally, both grizzly and man may have a chance to survive.” ~ Frank Craighead

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I was sad to see her and the babies leave.  What a phenomenal experience.  After this experience I was actually grateful for the delay in Whitehorse .  If we hadn’t been delayed in Whitehorse we never would have been at this location at the precise time momma bear showed up with her babies.  By the way, we did check out Congdon Creek Campground-it’s beautiful.  Some sites are right on the lake; lots of firewood and very clean.  A nice place to stay if you aren’t boon docking.

As we headed down the road, Jim and I were just chattering away, at a high level of excitement, over our once in a lifetime experience with the grizzlies.  When what to our wondering eyes should appear-another grizzly-just about 10 miles down the road from where we left momma and her babies.

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We almost didn’t spot him, but some RV’ers were already pulled off the road,frantically motioning to us and then we spotted him. Wow, was all I could say-this day will never be forgotten. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I am filled with so much gratitude for these gifts that were shared with me.

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All things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man.  The earth shares its spirit with all the life it supports – Chief Seattle

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Happy Trails, safe travels and may you be filled with the joy and excitement of life !

 

8 thoughts on “The Grizzlies of Kluane

  1. Nancy Crawford

    Fantastic photos!!! Wow!!!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences. You were truly blessed. I have only seen a grizzly in the wild once and that was at Denali National Park and from quite a far distance away. I am so enjoying each posting of your outstanding trip with its excellent scenery and wildlife photos. Keep enjoying each day.

    Like

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