Trite but true: What a difference a week makes.
After our Campmor shopping trip last week, I thought we were all set:
|Mosquito netting hat - check!|
|Rain suit- check.|
Then came an interesting news story this week about the 7 teen NOLS hikers who were attacked by a grizzly bear mother in Talkeetna. Yes, folks, we'll pass by there. Talkeetna is about a third of the way to Denali from Anchorage. My bear anxiety level right now on a scale of 1-10 (low to high) is about 8+. Gary's is a 1.
HIM: "Think of how many people are in the wilderness, how rare attacks are, blah, blah, blah...".
ME: "Yeah, but what about the recent attack in Yellowstone, where the husband got killed?"
(I did read that when they saw the mother and cub they just kept hiking, instead of turning back. No way I'd do that.)
I don't even care now if the salmon run has ended early and the bears have already left Katmai. I think I'd be happier not seeing any bears, although seeing them from the comfort and security of the fenced off viewing platforms sounds nice. As for Denali, I don't know if I'll be getting off the bus. There is a ranger hike at one stop, so that might be ok. Do NPS rangers carry guns? Do they at least lead the hike, so they'd take the first hit?
You have to love the comments people have posted after the Talkeetna story online. Here are a few gems and my comments:
"Going to Alaska without a gun? That's crazy talk!" (thank you Sarah P.)
"I never leave home without my 350 magnum." (Is this Clint Eastwood?)
"Did the hikers have bear bells on?" (somehow I don't think it would make much difference to have little,tinkly bells warning a big, angry mother bear...A la Jaws...I think we're going to need a bigger bell....)
I'm still excited about the trip and the relaxation breathing seems to be helping, so I'm definitely going to get on the plane. (Getting off may be another story).I am wondering if we need to re-visit Campmor and stock up on bear spray, bear bells (big ones), guns, ammo, etc...
Highlights to come:
Driving past Wasilla (photo ops!)
Looking at the Katmai bears, from a very safe distance
Pictures of hiking and no bears!
Kayaking at Kenai Fjords
Eating fresh caught salmon (every day?!)
Circling Mt McKinley (in a plane that's too small!)
Being digitally free - no Internet or Email for 12 days
Hiking the Valley of 10,000 Smokes (while high?)
Staying up until it gets dark at midnight
Wearing my new rain suit (every day?!)
Surviving without a private bathroom
Gary buying coffee mugs and tee shirts wherever possible
Eric complaining about his parents' slow transition times
Scott frustratingly searching for a cell phone signal
Missing Beth, who can't come.