Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lava: Nine.

As weather for riding goes, you could do a lot worse than what we woke to and traveled through all of this day. Cerulean skies, light breezes, packed sand.

While making breakfast and packing up I tried to dredge up a quotation from a book I'd read last spring. It had been on my mind since leaving the Bear River, but I wasn't able to remember it in sufficient enough detail to share it with the gang.

But here, now, I can open the book and quote it verbatim:
Half of our population considers grizzlies to be serial killers and the other half considers them a cross between Yogi Bear and Winnie the Pooh. But they are not serial killers, they are not harmless, and they are not our friends. They are wild beings, with all that connotes. For reasons I don't understand, many people have a hard time accepting that fact. As Aldo Leopold put it: "Only those able to see the pageant of evolution can be expected to value its theater, the wilderness, and its outstanding achievement, the grizzly."

We had a river crossing a short distance out of camp. Someone thought they saw a bear as we approached, but when we arrived the river was vacant. I enjoy spectating wildlife going about their doings, but in their absence I can enjoy distant views instead.

Then we crossed another river--just splashed on through--and another, neither with any bears present, and had to wonder why there were so many yesterday and so few today. Lack of salmon running up these to spawn? Full from yesterday's gorge-a-thon? Late night party left them all hungover?

Arriving at the Muddy River the on-the-ground scene bore little resemblance to what the maps showed. We found a single 1/3 mile wide braid with no clear indication on where, or how, to best cross. Pete did what Pete does and just plowed straight in from where we stood. He wallowed at first, strode easily through the middle, then wallowed deep on the far side.

The water lacked clarity so riffles were the only means for gauging approximate depth, and that wasn't quite enough to go on. Brian headed upstream to try a different line.

He too had good luck early on but then stumbled and nearly fell, catching himself before losing his footing but ending up way past balls deep in the process. Then it looked like he was struggling through quicksand through the middle section, before wallowing deep again at the far side.

Veniaminoff, venting.

Dave and I talked it over a bit. I voted to head closer to the breakers where the braids came together, blow up the boats, and paddle a short distance in fast current. Dave hemmed and hawed and ultimately plowed in on a derivative of Pete's line. I followed shortly, using his missteps to clue me in to what was happening below.

We ended up wallowing about as much as the others, then once on the far side turned our attention to Cape Seniavin.

Anyone and everyone familiar with this coast had told us that we'd need to head inland to get past Cape Seniavin (rhymes with cinnamon). That detour was partially to avoid the cliffy cape, but mostly to keep from spooking the heaps of walrus hauled out in its shadow. We smelled their acrid ammonia-rich presence before we could see or hear them, using that cue to head off the beach and into the hills.

We lunched there, spectating and speculating on the activities of the herd. Back on the bikes we found a rideable bear trail over the top.

A gorgeous section of beach followed, then another cape with an obvious-even-from-this-distance bear trail cutting the corner.

Then more booty, more great riding, and increasing amounts of avian company.

The mother lode?

This was a mere portion of the quantity we found in one ~100 square meter spot. I dropped a waypoint on the GPS and plan to sell the location of that waypoint on eBay...

Glance at a map for this part of the peninsula and you'll see the names of several wildlife refuge units that we passed through--some administered by the feds, some by the state, and some merely by common sense.

Needing water, we peered over the dune line to see Ilnik Lake angling our way.

Around about that time we circled the wagons and called it a night.

Comfy evening temps had us lingering in the warm sand for hours, feeding the fire, cooking our dinners, alternately enjoying conversation, jokes, and silence, then drifting off for more quality sleep.