Turnagain Times Tidbits
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Now that Turnagain Times has passed into the annals of history, it’s appropriate to look back at its 20-year past after its final issue was published on Nov. 3, 2017.
The following excerpt is from Turnagain Times Volume 13, Number 18, published Sept. 16, 2010 on page 1 and written by Marc Donadieu.
The article was the third in a five-part series about a month-long, solo, kayaking trip in Katmai National Park, which featured getting charged by a brown bear sow with a cub on the trail during a portage. The experience led to the series and becoming Turnagain Times’ Associate Editor in 2014, which led to publishing Glacier City Gazette in 2016. This tidbit is published on my 50th birthday as a way to acknowledge how unexpected experiences in the past have shaped my present and future.
Kayaking in Katmai
One man’s solo journey into the wilderness
At Lake Grosvenor’s shore, I dropped my gear, including my shotgun in its water resistant case. I did not want to lug its weight any more than necessary. I returned to Naknek Lake, picked up the large bear resistant food container and two full dry bags, and headed back to Lake Grosvenor. Despite tired, aching arms, I was determined to keep plugging along and finish the portage.
I was three-quarters-of-a-mile from Lake Grosvenor when the trail turned left and was concealed by tall rocks. As I trudged forward, the trail revealed something unexpected. As soon as I recognized the large brown furry ball sleeping 60 feet away in the middle of the trail, it turned, jumped up, and charged me in one fluid movement.
I heard a stick snap away from the charging sow, which indicated a fleeing cub. All I could do was react and say, “It’s ok. It’s ok.” The charging sow rapidly gained speed and momentum as she closed in on her target. I immediately dropped my dry bags, got down on my knees, placed my head on the ground, and protected my neck with interlocked fingers.
As she drew nearer, a number of thoughts entered my head, such as, “Wow! She’s really fast.” Even though I knew I was in deep trouble, something felt like it wasn’t real. The more disturbing thought was, “I’m really close to this angry bear. This is so cool.”
I patiently waited for the mauling to begin. Nothing happened. I heard loud, deep chuffing and heavy breathing very near. I was curious, so I raised my head and accidentally made eye contact. That move was a big mistake.
The sow, which was within 10 feet, gave an animated response featuring head bobbing, growling, and popping teeth. The deep rumbling sounds were fascinating and frightening. I put my head down and contemplated my fate. I had thoughts such as, “Her head is pretty big,” “She’s a really pretty specimen,” and “Look at those teeth!”