A Nighttime Visitor (Delta Junction, Alaska)

CRASH!!  Rustle…  Rustle…  Rustle…

 

My eyes popped open and I tried to convince myself it was just a dream.  Surely there couldn’t be some kind of enormous animal a few feet from my head.

 

A second later John shot up.  Nancy!”  he cried.  “There’s something out there!  Something big!”

 

Obviously it wasn’t just a dream.

The two of us, with hearts beating wildly, talked loudly as the beast lumbered off into the woods. “What should we do now, Nancy?”  John asked. “I don’t know.  Do bears turn around and come back?  Or do they move on?” The two of us, and Davy once he joined us in the land of the awake, tried to figure out what to do.Should we pack up and move on?  Or was the beast sufficiently far away that all was well?  On the one hand, it was 2:00 in the morning and light as day – we could easily have taken off.  On the other hand, the kids needed sleep.  If we packed up now, they would be tired all day.  In the end, we decided to stay and let the boys sleep. We never did figure out what kind of animal was outside our tent, but in our minds, it was the biggest, most ferocious bear this side of the Yukon River! Had glorious, brilliant sunshiny day today.  So far John’s theory is a total bust.  Not a cloud in the sky either morning or afternoon today. We paralled the Alaska Range all day and were rewarded with phenomenal views of the entire range and Mt. McKinley.  It was so beautiful, in fact, that we just couldn’t make any miles at all – we kept stopping for photos.  I’m going to guess we’ve got fifty or more photos of the mountains – something we never do. Since I mentioned bears today, I figure this is a good time to talk about our strategies for dealing with bears. We basically use the triangle method – cook in one place, store food in another, and camp in yet another. We generally cook at some point during the day – miles away from where we’ll camp.  That way, when we’re at our campsite we don’t have the food smells on us at all.  We grab a quick snack (which we eat way away from the tent) and then head to bed. Our food is stored in dry bags, which are kept far from the tent.  The dry bags, which are air tight, presumably keep the food smell locked in, so bears can’t smell it. Is this method foolproof?  Absolutely not.  But I suppose there is a certain amount of risk in everything – including hiking in your own backyard and taking a bath.  That being said, I think we’re as safe as anybody up here in these hills!

 

Davy with Alaska Range

 

Family with Alaska Range

 

Nancy with Alaska Range

 

Alaska Range

 

tandem with Alaska Range

 

Alaska Range

 

Miles today:  44

Miles to date:  635

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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