A bear story

This morning Jen and I were taking a casual stroll to the fishing weir in Haines. Bears frequent this spot and we were on high alert looking for them.

A bear crossed the road 75 yards in front of us heading towards the weir. It disappeared in the bush next to the river.

We stopped to wait for it to enter the steam and gain some distance from us.

Suddenly, Jen grabbed me by the jacket, pulling me around to see the bear on the road in full run towards us. Out of the brush charged a second, bigger, bear in hot pursuit of the first bear.

Now we had two huge Alaskan brown bears charging at us.

“Get the bear spray out,” Jen said.

“Calm down and get close to me,” I said.

This is bad, I thought.

The bigger bear looked to be protecting her territory and chasing the smaller one away.

But, why did they choose our direction to work out their problems?

We moved to the edge of the road, giving them as large a path as possible. We said, “Nice bear, nice bear.” You could hear their claws clacking on the pavement as they ran.

The first bear blazed right on by with one lane of road between us. The second bear gave us a glance as it kept in hot pursuit of the smaller bear.

Speedy chasing Lulu

They darted off the road and up the hill, about 50 yards past us. We could smell the bear stench after they passed.

The second bear stopped and turned around, looking back to the road in our direction, possibly with the intent of heading back to the fish weir. We were between it and the weir. We were the monkeys in the middle.

A couple in an RV who saw the whole thing transpire pulled up. We asked for a ride out of the bear’s path, and they let us in to the safety of their vehicle and drove us past the danger.

We have been on high alert for bear for eight weeks now, carrying bear spray on every walk, even to the pit toilets. Almost every stop carries bear warnings and what to do if we encounter one. And we were yet to get a decent view of a bear in Alaska.

We are cured.

After Bear Encounter Daze


Bob & Mari

Bob and Mari, our new best friends who rescued us, said the bear being pursued had a fish in its mouth. The fish was dropped in the road during the chase. Bob and Mari got some photos of the bears running. We were not thinking that we could snap some great bear shots at the moment.

Later that day we found the fisheries agent, Rick, who counts the fish passing through the weir, taking his lunch break.

We learned that the first bear is 3-year-old Lulu. Rick said that all the bears pick on Lulu for some unknown reason. The huge bear is 15-year-old Speedy (Lulu’s mother).

Speedy is well-known in the Haines community. We asked our waitress at the Lighthouse Restaurant if this was true and she said yes, she knew of Speedy.

It’s been one year since encountering Speedy and Lulu. We’ve shared the story with many people. Jen named her new car after Speedy

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