If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, and you find yourself on the bank of Kurile Lake and are told to ‘go check out the sand bank’ by your guides, make sure you agree and get yourself over there! For what you’ll get is a heady cocktail of adrenaline, delight and emotions. Why? Because… of all the bears. And not just a handful, but a whole big pack of them…
No, wait… not just one big pack, but several: the place is rammed full of grizzlies.
Undergrowth all trampled and flattened, much… of that stuff bears are famous for doing ‘in the woods’, rotting bits of fish strewn everywhere, trees with all their bark scraped off, and little foot-and-claw prints… = bear territory!
The stench of rotting fish overpowers all other thoughts and emotions – including fear: handy, if a little foolhardy…
Such careless fish! This one here almost drowned in the fast river, but the brave bear climbed into the water and saved it! Here they are together – rescued and rescuer, posing for the perfect ‘bear and fish’ portrait.
Btw, the sandy bank in the middle of the field isn’t all that far: you can see it in the top right corner of the pic below. All the same, we were like soooo relieved when we made it back to the camp territory – in one piece.
We almost gave up getting to the sand bank halfway as, perhaps getting used to the stink of fish, emotions – like dread! – started to seep back into our consciousness; oh, and the fact that there were bears EVERYWHERE. Some were sleeping in bushes we’d pass, who’d wake up, give out a roar and then gallop off into the distance (phew!).
When we finally reached the odd sandy banking, we couldn’t really care less about it. The only thing that seemed to matter was bears: Where are they? Are they hungry? Maybe angry? Etc., etc.
After this breather at the much-anticipated sand oddity, it was back to camp – quick march!
In all, one heck of a short walk. One of the most nerve-racking you could ever go on. And one of the most unforgettable.
All the An-Kam-2015 pics are here.
Back soon folks!…