Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What to do if you see a Grizzly Bear...

Denali National Park in Alaska is an area as large as the state of Massachusetts. It has one road leading 89 miles into the park, and the same road leads you back out. There are only two real choices to visit the park – hike it or bus it. We took the bus. But, before you sign up for the 6, 8 or 11 hour tour, make sure you know your child’s breaking point. We took the 8 hour tour. Alex had enough of the moose, caribou, Dall sheep, red fox, hares and one lone wolf we saw at about 6 hours. Some people think it’s brave to take your child to the edge of no where and then back. I’m tending to believe it’s a bit crazy.

The road into Denali starts out paved and two way, but by mile 64, at the Fish Creek Turnaround, you will have been weaved on a refurbished, painted green school bus up, down and around a steep, gravel, windy, one-lane path that looks like rock is added annually to replace what was washed away during the 9 month winter. If you don’t look down, or think too hard about it – it’s awesome. I guess that’s why they tell you to bring the car seat.

Alaska is stunning, and Denali, meaning 'tall one,' boasts North America’s highest mountain at 20,320 feet. It is one of the most magnificent places on earth. There are about 300 grizzly bears in the park, and signs posted to remind you to be alert. Here are the rules if you see a grizzly bear:

* Don’t run.
* Back away slowly.
* Should the bear approach or charge you – do not run.
* If a grizzly makes contact with you, play dead.
* If the attack is prolonged, fight back vigorously.

It doesn’t say what to do with your child. I’d recommend you just stay on the bus.