Things in Alaska are still great but we have officially entered the rainy season. I haven't seen the mountain in over a week and it has been raining most of that time. Not the type of rain in FL but more of an all day misting. It is actually very beautiful but I would be lying to say that I don't miss the sunny days. I just had a friend visit for a little over a week and we did some great hikes including another mountain just behind my house, stayed at a back country cabin, and went kayaking on wonder lake for a couple days.
Even though the weather is not typical summer weather that I am used to, there are some other things happening here that I am also not used to that are keeping me very entertained. The wildflowers are peaking at the moment. I have identified and photographed around 80 species so far out here and I am still on the hunt for more. Wildlife sightings continue to amaze me. I had four of the best encounters within a week of each other. Two were on the same day. The first was on the way to work where my coworker and I had to stop in the middle of the road because 3 grizzly bears were walking the opposite direction from us. So I pulled the car over and waited as they walked toward us. The 2 cubs were fairly timid but the sow was intrigued. So much so that she came up to our car and sniffed the side view mirror. Very cool.
The next was a similar situation but with a wolf. So as we waited the wolf trotted closer and closer until it was right next to us and then sat down. It was certainly unique for me to see a wolf so close. But it gets better. She tilted her head back and started howling for what seemed like forever but was more like 30 seconds or so. The sound gave me the chills. It was the first time I had ever heard a wolf howl and it was 6 feet away. What can I say? I'm spoiled. Later that day as I was bragging about my cool encounter and we came across the same female wolf but this time she had 3 other wolves with her and I had my camera. So as they all howled together I was able to get some video of it which is freaking awesome. I am going to try and get it uploaded ASAP but the Internet out here is extremely slow. The last and best wildlife encounter was just after dinner time. I was blaring some Eminem and I see my neighbor sneaking up to my door as I looked out through my kitchen window. I'm think to myself "Is she trying to scare me or something?" So she comes in and tells me to shut my music off and grab my camera. So I do. I have learned to do what women tell me without question. As I walk down my front steps I see a group of people, my neighbors, all standing with cameras and binoculars on the front porch of the house next to mine. As I walked to their vantage point, what came into sight blew my mind. I was staring at a lynx eating a ground squirrel. The only thing to say that came to mind was HOLY SHIT!!!! We stood there for about 15 minutes watching the lynx feast as another ground squirrel chirped at it. When the lynx was finished it made ready for the second course. It looked just like a house cat stalking the shoelace you slowly pull across the floor. But when the lynx pounced, it swiped with precision and a loud shriek was let loose from the ground squirrel. It was all over. It had it in its mouth and looked back at us through the trees. The second course I decided to not shoot but just to watch and take it in. I was probably never going to see something like this again so I wanted to make sure that I saw it with my eyes and not through a lens. It ate the head first and the pulled out the insides. Then bit by bit it devoured the entire squirrel; 2,000 calories each. When it was finished it sat full and majestic in the few rays of sunlight that passed though the clouds. As it walked away I pulled my camera back out and shot the picture of it through the trees licking its lips. It was an experience that I will never forget. All in all it was probably a 35 min encounter, 15 ft from my house. Crazy.