Journeys through Alaska with Simran Gill: Sunshine, Blueberries, Bears
After two days of torturous weather we saw the first Alaskan sunshine, (according to locals it was after one month). We trekked for one hour with no sight of the bears. Suddenly, I spotted a big brown rock next to the riverbed and then it moved, “it’s a bear,”I yelled in excitement. We all positioned ourselves and waited for the bear to wake up from its hour-long slumber with a year old cub snuggled to her body. I knew they were going to model for us.
She woke up to start fishing with the baby cub trying to mimic her every move. It was like a movie script; the bears our actors and we the directors. Jumping in the water to catch the salmons, rejecting a few, tearing into the flesh of few and feasting on many. The baby bear trying to impress his mother but the salmons would slip away from his grip. If that was not enough they started moving towards us, ignoring us they began feasting on their dessert, the BLUEBERRIES. Every shot we had imagined, they gave it to us for 3 hours.
Then next day was our encounter with over 1000 walruses, each or them bigger than a bull, on the shores of the Bering sea in Bristol Bay. We flew in a super cub plane to see them all soaking in the sun. I was tempted to play dead with them but was discouraged by their stench, which was worse than rotten meat. In my excitement to see these big, lazy animals I forgot my bug protection hat and within a few minutes had the Alaskan bugs kissing me all over my face, the wounds of which I am still nursing.
By the end of 10 days we had seen more than 50 bears and this Alaskan adventure was a perfect 10. The excruciating body pain had made me numb. I had experienced a whole new world, a world meant to be that way: beautiful, untouched, and surreal. The sound of waves and wind was so frightening but I felt silence around me. “ Simran are you ok? How come you haven’t spoken a word since an hour?” Nikhil said sarcastically. I was in my space, and for the first time in years I didn’t want to talk. By the end of the trip, the 12 kms walk each day felt like a stroll. The mossy grass was a balm to my sore feet and the bears had finally accepted us in their territory, eating blueberries, fishing salmon, and throwing the not so tasty salmons towards us. We saw pristine forests, breath-taking landscapes and most importantly, had an adventure of a lifetime. It felt like home.
They say, you don’t choose Alaska, it chooses you!
Sadly, you have to return to civilization and I returned to Delhi. Now I have 20 more friends, overwhelmed with an adventure that my heart holds, a deep sense of gratification and respect towards a world we take for granted.
And like they say, you don’t choose Alaska, it chooses you!