On the shores of Mille Lacs Lake.
Katmai National Park has been holding its annual Fat Bear Week over the past few days.
Complete with a March Madness type bracket, the park has been posting before and after pictures of various bears, in a head to head, or possibly, belly to belly, face off.
Highlighting how much weight brown bears need to put on over the summer to get through hibernation, Katmai has found a unique way to raise public awareness.
Two bears now go belly to belly for the 2018 title of Fattest Bear of Katmai.
First we have Bear #409, also known as Beadnose. Beadnose comes into the championship round having beat out three time champion Otis.
Challenging Beadnose is Bear #747. This Bear carries a lot of weight, but no nickname. Although, I expect that will change next spring. I have to admit, 747 is appropriate, just look at that wide body.
I believe voting closes today at 3 pm Alaska time on the Katmai Facebook page.
I went outside the cabin late on Friday night to appreciate the changing of the seasons. It happens fast up here in the Interior. The moon was already setting, and the sky was lit up with stars. It was the first night of the season where the stars absolutely jumped out at you, demanding your attention. This time of year, it is always more pronounced, since it has been quite some time since the stars commanded the northern sky. It has also been quite some time since we had a sky free of clouds.
We would be getting a frost overnight, so I was about to drag the few plants I have under the cabin overhang. The lettuce had flourished all summer, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. The tomatoes and peppers struggled however, with the cool, wet weather we had.
Just as I grabbed one of the pots, I heard a grunting sound coming from behind me. I spun around, but could see nothing. I went back in to get my headlamp, and when I turned it on, the grunting returned in earnest, but still I had no visual on the source. I had immediately thought “moose”, but the sounds were not moose-like. They were also coming from low in the willows and fireweed, too low for even a young calf, unless it was lying down.
My cell phone started to ring, so I went back into the cabin. It was a neighbor calling to tell me that there was some strange animal about. “It grunted at me!” I told the neighbor, that it was in my yard now, and that I had been grunted at too. No, I don’t think it’s a moose. Yes, it could be a bear, but it didn’t sound like a bear either. I’ve been huffed at several times by various bears, even growled at, but never grunted at in such a way. I assured the neighbor that when I pointed the light in its direction, the grunts seemed to be more excited than aggressive.
At midnight, the novelty of the grunts had worn off, and I hadn’t heard them around the cabin for a while, so I started to get ready to turn in. Then I heard a truck come speeding down my driveway. There were the sounds of a door being opened and shut, and then came a pounding at the cabin door. I can’t tell you how rare that scenario is for me. When it comes right down to it, I don’t have many neighbors, and most are too smart to just pound on someone’s door without calling out first, especially at midnight.
At the door was a man I had never seen before, which made me even more suspicious. “Are you missing a pig?”, he asked. No, I don’t own a pig. It seems there was a pig at the end of my driveway. The man was quite excited, claimed the pig stood taller than his knees, and was hairy. He wanted to know if any of my neighbors had pigs. I honestly didn’t know if any had pigs, but it was certainly possible.
So, it was a pig of all things. I was happy the mystery was solved, thanked the man, and started to close the door. He stopped me, then asked what I was going to do about the pig. I told him that I had no intention of poking around the dark woods at midnight looking for a lost pig, if that was what he was getting at. The man then turned away, obviously disgusted at my lack of immediate concern. I came out onto my deck to watch the truck speed out my drive in reverse.
After the sound of the truck died away, I could hear the pig grunting his way down a trail through the woods.
I have to admit, life is rarely a bore up here.
The blueberry season this year in the Interior wasn’t anything to write home about. They were out there, but you had to work for them and cover some serious ground doing so.
The raspberries this year have been another story. They seem to be everywhere. There are plants around my cabin that I didn’t even know about, and they are loaded with berries. Anytime I want them, I just go outside the door and fill a bowl.
The raspberry patch in the photo I have known about, but the wasp nest came as a bit of a surprise, although it probably shouldn’t have. In the same area of the “yard” last year, wasps had completely encased an old bird feeder with their nest.
This summer has not been a “bee year”, as I have not had any issues on any job sites at all. I usually get chased down the extension ladder once or twice in a normal building season, but that has not happened this year. In an actual “bee year”, that has been known to happen several times a day.