It would be hard to overstate just how much it rains in Southeast Alaska. We get over one hundred inches of precipitation a year here in Sitka. Other communities in our region get more than that. Almost half of that rain falls between the middle of August and the end of November.
This September morning found us playing hooky and heading out on the boat. We should have been home. I had a drainage line to dig up and repair and my wife was behind at the office. But the Sun was out!! This beautiful morning was already tempting us away from our obligations when my daughter Becky called. Her suggestion for an excursion to a nearby island was all we needed to ditch our chores. Unfortunately, we had an obligation we couldn't ignore – we were sponsoring a fundraiser that evening. This would have to be a quick trip.
Because we headed straightaway to the harbor after the call we knew we would be early for our rendezvous. We dawdled along the way, enjoying the Sea Otters and the scenery. When we spied Humpback Whales by Vitskari Rocks we made a detour to observe these magnificent beasts. I never bore of them. These graceful, powerful giants are my favorite animals.
We spent a half hour watching them, my wife maneuvering the boat so I could take some photographs. As the excursion was a short one we soon made our way to Bieli Rocks. En-route we saw four teenagers on a nearby island waving to us with both hands. Thinking they were in distress we stopped to check on them. As we neared the shore one of the kids came out on his skiff. All was well, they were just being overly exuberant as we passed by.
Soon after leaving the teenagers we met up with my Becky and her father-in-law Sonny and we followed them into the cove. Sonny is a good friend, a generous soul with a wealth of knowledge on the local area, cooking and salmon fishing. As soon as we arrived we made a day camp on the beach and got a small fire going. It was a good island with a small probability of a bear encounter.
We always go prepared for the possibility of meeting up with a bear. Most bear encounters are harmless meetings with both people and bruins walking away unscathed. On the other hand, there have been three maulings around Sitka in the last month. Brown Bears are the apex predator here. They are fearless and unpredictable, especially sows with cubs. Our family spends a lot of time in remote areas and the number one rule I teach my kids is to remember that they are solely responsible for their own well being, that there is no 911 in the wild.
Our time ashore was all too short. I got to visit with my friend Sonny and watch our grand-kids swim in the ocean and frolic on the rocks and driftwood. We whittled some sticks so the kids could cook hot-dogs and I shot some pictures of Mount Edgecumbe and Sitka Sound. It seems like we barely had the fire going before it was time to go. It was well worth it though. What a great day indeed.