Monday, August 1, 2016

When a Bear says STOP! – Cassiar Highway (day 2, pt. 1)

Mama Bear faces off car to protect cubs,  Cassiar Highway

July 29th

When a mama bear stands up to a on coming car to protect her cubs, and when you are in the on coming car, believe me…you STOP!  On our drive today to Stewart, which is in Canada and only 3 miles from Hyder Alaska, we were the first on the scene of this proud, protective mama and her two little cubs.  We have LOTS of pictures, which we shall show later, but I just had to open today’s blog with this wonderful picture.  And I will always remember the picture I missed…when before mama stood up to the car, one of the cubs stood up to the other cub as they played out in the middle of the highway!  It was one of those “hitting the off button instead of the zoom button” type of things.  As I realized what I had done, turned the camera back on, the little cub was back on all fours again.  Darn…opportunity missed.

Rainbow on Eddontenajon lake, Cassiar Highway

We had not been on the highway very long this morning before we started to pass Eddontenajon lake.  There was a rest area turnout, but numerous travelers were already parked in there so I continue on…after all, we had only been driving 9 miles so far.  Marcia yells, “Stop!”, so I start to slow.  What is it?  A bear?  A moose??  Nope, it is a rainbow out in the middle of the lake.  No wonder people were stopping at the rest area, and thank goodness there were other small pullouts where we could stop and get pictures too.  But the camera is not working right…every time she snaps a picture it says, “still writing…”  Hmm, sounds like someone forgot to put in the SD Card into the camera.  Quick fix, and Marcia gets her pics of her Rainbow.  Now we both own Rainbows.  Winking smile 

Double Rainbow on Eddontenajon lake, Cassiar Highway1c

But that is not good enough for Marcia…we drive just a short distance and its another “Stop!”  She gets this picture of a double rainbow.  If you look closely to the right of the big rainbow in the picture above, there is the start of another rainbow!  Marcia got a Double Rainbow!

Kinaskan Lake and Mount Edziza, Cassiar Highway
Kinaskan Lake, Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway      Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway

The next 40-50 miles the scenery is awesome (above pictures).  More lakes, distance mountains, blue skies with wonderful fluffy clouds.  We couldn’t ask for a better morning.  You wonder how long can this go on for? (below pictures)

 Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway      Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway      Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway      Cassiar Highway
 Cassiar Highway      Cassiar Highway

That takes us another 40 miles or so…this is just so mind blowing, so pretty, so awesome.  What could be nicer?  And then…

Black dot is a bear along the Cassiar Highway

I spot a black dot in the road ahead…”Marcia, do you see it?”  Yep, she is on it…window down, and she takes this shot.  Always try and get a shot first, no matter the distance…you never know when wildlife will just dart away.

Two bears along Cassiar Highway 

After the first shot, you zoom in just a bit…”There are two of them Dave,” she says.  I am still slowly bringing the motorhome to a halt…quick stops make noise…and we need to find that right distance where we can observe, but not be in their way.

Two bears along Cassiar Highway

Two bears along Cassiar HighwayI have come to a stop, moved to the right, have flashers on…no other cars in sight.  Marcia hands me the camera because with her hurt arm, it is hard to keep the camera steady for a full zoom in.  You zoom in with a camera, and you have to have a steady hand.  Also, leaning out the left window you can hold the camera steady with your left hand, and zoom, focus, shoot with your right…and hope that you don’t turn it off!

Two bears along Cassiar Highway

So my first shot is zoomed in a bit…and thank goodness mama has decided to go back to the other side of the road, giving me just a few more pictures to take.

Two bears along Cassiar Highway

Awe, such a good bear.  Keep an eye on perceived danger, ready to shoo the baby off to the side if the danger materializes…and posing for the eager cameraman. 

Make that three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

And add to the above list…getting child number two from out of the grass.

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

With full family in tow, mama starts to make it to the other side…

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

…then she stops and smells. 

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs
Don’t know what it is, but she hesitates, and heads back the other way and toward us.  It was between these two shots (above) that I had a brain fart, and accidentally turned the camera off…and the one cub (the one directly behind mom above) got on its hind legs playing with its little sibling.  I will always regret missing that shot!

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

Safely back to the other side, mama looks back to the left…

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

…another quick look at us…we are still the only vehicle around, and I am sure she told the kids to stay in place, and off to the left side she heads.  But danger is at hand…

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

I saw the car first, and I quickly flash my lights at it…the car slows, I get back on the camera and mama is nearly to the other side…but “junior” wants its mama, while the larger cub obeys and lays in place.

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

The larger cub sees the car coming, runs to tell mom (who I am sure knows of the oncoming car, but she is still sniffing into the brush)…

Three bears along Cassiar Highway, mama and two cubs

…whatever it is, she does not want to rush in there…and now it is time to confront the oncoming car.  The cubs don’t sense the danger that she knows all to well.  The people in the car…well, they just slowly keep coming…there is now a car behind us too, but they stop far behind us, the guys gets out and has his camera going.

Mama Bear takes on car to protect two cubs, Cassiar Highway     Mama Bear takes on car to protect two cubs, Cassiar Highway
Mama Bear takes on car to protect two cubs, Cassiar Highway

And mama takes a stand.  In the opening picture of this LONG blog she stands, and the car stops.  Now in the shots directly above the car has moved over, and the passenger is hanging out taking pictures.  Mama gathers the little ones, who are in WOW of mama standing up to this this mechanical creature which was headed toward them, and she shoos them to the side of the road.

Off the bears go, Mama Bear takes on car to protect two cubs, Cassiar Highway

In an instant the cubs are gone, and mom is right behind them.  WOW, did we actually just see all of that?  For 3-5 minutes we had the show of a lifetime.  First it was a private show…then it was a group show.  The oncoming car starts back up and we wave at each other.  Part of me wanted it to be our “special wave”, because I felt they violated the space of this mother bear and her cubs.  On the other hand, due to this violation, we got a show which we could have never imagine happening to us. Eventually the people behind us, who I had talked to previous and who also are from Florida, honk and wave as they pass by.  It was such a special show…

This post is too long as it is…and our trip today is only half over…and we have two more bears to share and lots more scenery including some glaciers with all shades of blue.  So absorb this post, and move on to part 2 when I get it posted.

We did not have Internet for three days, so "IF" you did not see the previous post "Cassiar Highway is Breathtaking – and a Moose with a Calf", just click now.  I will try and have part 2 posted tomorrow (August 2nd) along with another post about our time in Stewart BC and Hyder Alaska.

8 comments:

  1. Like spotting the moose and calf seeing this mother bear and her cubs will be things you can relate to the family and each time you do you will see it clearly in your mind.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, very special moments for sure. Although we are heading home now, we will always have very fond memories of Alaska, from the wonderful things we saw, the wonderful people we met, and of course, the fisherman of dogs who saved our little Skruffy.

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  2. Beautiful photographs of the scenery! And quite a show with the mama bear and the twins! We saw a mama with triplets but they were way too busy eating flowers and then running away once they spotted us so we didn't get very good pictures.

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    Replies
    1. We were pretty lucky that we were able to sit back and enjoy the bears without any traffic for so long. There is so much "luck" involved with wildlife encounters while driving. Today people pass us...we were maybe two minutes behind them and come upon a black bear. He let us get so close, then he was gone, so I am sure he came out after those other vehicles zoomed by him.

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  3. Your trip is wonderful and you two are doing such a great job taking photos of all the gorgeous scenery. Today, however, is special with the adorable bear family. What an unforgettable treat:) I love that mama hung around so long making a decision. And to stand up for the car...wow! My kind of perfect day:) The rainbows made it extra perfect. They are the coolest photos with the rainbow over the water. I love when they come right out of the water. I double is beautiful. Wow! What a day! Thanks for adding so many bear photos. There are never enough:)

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    Replies
    1. Let me tell you, by the time we got to Stewart our minds were so full of so much from the drive between Watson Lake and Stewart that we were exhausted! I am so glad that we saved the Cassiar Highway for the last, it is such a treat after all the sights in Alaska which too are so mind blowing. But that mama bear standing up to that oncoming car will always be a great memory for sure.

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  4. Wow! first the moose and baby, now the bears. How wonderful.

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    Replies
    1. This by far was our BEST bear sighting ever because it was the longest while driving, and because of the cubs playing (always going to missing that picture) and, of course, mama bear standing up to the car.

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