Biking to work on Tuesday, I took our summer route: up Campbell Airstrip Road and crossing the Campbell Tract to reach Elmore Road. I was looking forward to being away from the roadway; away from the noise, traffic and fumes. A short ride through the woods. I threw the camera in my vest pocket just in case I saw anything interesting.
Just before I crossed the second mushing tunnel on CA Road, I saw three bears. Possibly the same bears I'd seen almost two weeks earlier. They were at the bottom of the embankment. I was on the road, the path and steep slope between us. I almost kept riding, but pulled up to the guardrail and leaned my bike against it while I pulled out the camera.
The bears behaved as we hope they will: they began moving away without taking much interest in me. A car went by. I snapped pictures as the sow and cubs began weaving among the birch, stunted spruce and tussocks of the park. I noticed a light tremble in my hand as I watched. My cleats scraped against the asphalt and one of the cubs jumped. They slowly moved away, deeper into the tangle of brush and last year's tall grass.
I guess it's appropriate that this evening I'm going to attend a "bear aware" event with my mountain biking group, the Alaska Dirt Divas. I'm sure I'll find out what I shouldn't be doing. Good timing; the bears are out, the trails are drying and I want to go mountain biking.