My springtime in Alaska… the good, bad and ugly
During those first years in Alaska when I worked as an assistant hunting guide, I lived during the spring hunting season in a small log cabin. It was located 150 miles from town, in between the semi-abandoned gold mining town of Eureka and the native village of Rampart on the Yukon river. I was new to Alaska and as you will soon see I had not yet acquired any Alaskan common sense. On one of the first mornings at the cabin I had been up about a half an hour and was still waiting for the coffee to brew as an awareness crept into my consciousness. I realized I needed to take a walk to the outhouse and though not fully dressed with the spring time air a warm 36 no heavy cloths were needed. The cabin I was living in tended to be for summer use only and the outhouse was the same with no door and a wonderful view of a nearby stream and rolling spruce covered hills.
As I sat pondering the wilderness that surrounded me the sound of movement nearby broke my reverie. I turned and on my left side I could just make out, what at the time seemed gargantuan, hump of a black bear moving through the brush along the stream’s shoreline. Now you must remember this was my first year as an assistant hunting guide and I had never tracked or hunted bears before so needless to say I was more than a little anxious. Though I had been told many times never to run, if it were not for my pants being down at my ankles, I am sure I would have. I had also been told to always have your handgun with you when you walk out in the woods, but apparently this would be my first reinforcement of that lesson. Suffice it to say I sat frozen until the bear ambled off, then after a time I returned to my cabin and never forgot to have my sidearm with me again.
However unlike most places in the ‘lower forty eight’ spring in Alaska is not a pretty picture. The highways and roads are now are lined with the remnants of dirty snow, and the millions of magnificent Birch trees barren of leaves are indeed a dreary enhancement to the highway vistas.
Though the sometimes dangerous ice covered roads are now almost bare, the melting ice refreezes at night and leaves spots of instant excitement when encountered.
Then lastly we have awakening of the thousands of sleeping bears. Grumpy to say the least because their last meal was months ago and now out in search of (anything) edible.
…but to me the absolute best thing about springtime in Alaska
is the chance to get out in the warm air and walk around, able to now enjoy
the magnificent panorama of the still snow caped hills and mountains
near my cabin without one single mosquito!