The six foot tall black bear

On the western side of Prince of Wales Island there is a long fjord where a glacier once lived. The fjord is very deep suggesting that sea level was significantly lower 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. We had many great adventures on and around this fjord.

We camped for a few weeks in a ten foot square cabin once used for fish counting. The cabin had bunk beds and a table built along one wall. It was located at the mouth of a small stream that drained a large lake. The stream had a ten foot tall waterfall right at its entrance into the fjord.

The lake was something of a puzzle. It appeared to be man-made. The outlet for the lake ran across a barrier of sediment. Either someone put it there or it was glacial in origin. Oddly, there were tree stumps beneath the water that were obviously cut. So some kind of human activity happened there. We just could not figure out what it was.

The hike from the cabin to the lake was about a mile. It was an easy hike along a well used bear trail. I say bear trail because there are no people there and few large animals other than bears.

On my first trek to the lake I tied a piece of orange flagging, a kind of plastic ribbon used by construction crews, around a tree to mark the trail I took. Like Hansel and Gretel I didn’t want to get lost. I tied it about five feet off the ground. On my way back to the cabin I found the flagging on the ground and three deep claw marks where the flagging used to be.

The next day on my way to the lake I decided to tie a piece of flagging six feet off the ground just to see what would happen. When I returned in the evening I again found the flagging on the ground and claw marks where the flagging used to be.

The following day I decided to tie the flagging as far up on the tree as I could reach. That’s about nine feet high. When I returned I found the flagging on the ground.

I never saw the bear. I never wanted to see it.

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