I begrudgingly agreed to go to the Thornton Creek Hatchery to look for bears. I didn’t want to go. I have a pretty serious phobia when it comes to bears. But my mates were stoked and they convinced me this was a good idea and an awesome photo op.
We arrived to find the “fish guy” in a state of some distress. He was in the river in his rubber boots and he was concerned about the low water levels.
The tide was going out and the water continued to get lower by the minute. Seems the salmon were having a hard time getting out of the hatchery and into the ocean.
He went inside and when he came back he’d put on his hip waders and brought out a fish pushing tool. He proceeded to try to gently push the salmon out into the ocean. He looked worried. We chatted with him and when we referred to “his fish” he immediately corrected us with “our fish, these are all of our fish”. I liked this guy. He was all in.
While he did his job people came and went. We’d read that there had been bear sitings on the boardwalk. I took a deep breath and went for a walk. There were no bears and we wandered up the boardwalk and back. Clearly bears had been there. There were obvious signs, let’s leave it at that.
The three of us split up and did our own things. We chatted with the other visitors. I took up a spot close to the car near the bridge where I felt the safest. I was chatting with a couple of ladies when in the middle of a sentence one of them started to point. Yep the thing we’d all been waiting for had arrived. I called out to one of my group but my instinct was to start shooting (not running, surprise!).
The bear gave us a look and went about it’s business. Bear business was lunch business and it was a pro.
I called out again but my friends didn’t hear me. I sent them a text “bear!” but hey, they didn’t get that text for quite a while, cell coverage isn’t the best at the hatchery. It was cool. And then it disappeared.
They were right. Fear faced and embraced. Glad it didn’t come any closer. I did wonder the entire time, where is this bear’s momma? Before we left we placed a donation in the hatchery’s donation box. Times aren’t easy for the Thornton Creek Hatchery, every little bit helps. I hope all of those fish made their way out to the ocean.