Kenai Peninsula

(how to survive a blackbear)

Location: south of Anchorage
Features: mountains, glaciers, streams, lakes

we survived...the backpack not!

First of all a WARNING: if you wanna hike Kenai Peninsula, take a gun with you or at least something which makes a lot of noise. There are parts on the peninsula which are absolutely NOT maintained! That means pure wildernis, including black bears, always eager to get some food. And believe'll be lucky to have a gun when you encounter a black bear. The only thing we had, was bear bells...of course, they don't help at all! I'm still thinking of sueing the guys who produce this crap... you might already have guessed, we DID encounter a black bear. Our intension was to hike the Peninsula on the Resurection Trail from Seward to Hope, in the northern part. The guys at the National Forest Information in Seward assured us, that the trail was in a good condition, maybe a little bit muddy in places and not really well maintained, but 'It'll be ok'. Well...apparently they forgot to tell us about the flooding, which occured a while ago. So, after 2 days of hiking, the trail simply vanished and we were looking at a big stream.

looking for the holy path
At that point we discovered those red tags on some trees and decided to make these signs our new trail. was more bushwacking than hiking, since there simply was no trail. Anyway...I never had to work that hard again in my hole life, like I did in the next 2 hours. The 'shortcut' through the woods was certainly not longer than a mile, but if you have 60 pounds on your back and constantly climb over and under huge logs in a thick and dense brushwood, always looking for the next red tag, it can get really long...
We eventually made it back on a normal trail and continued hiking towards north. Only half an hour later, we realized that we were not alone anymore. Only 50 yards back on the trail was a big black bear, keeping constant pace with us. Our first idea to double the pace turned out to be not a good one. The bear didn't seem to have a problem with our new speed. Shouting, clapping and making a lot of noise didn't help either. So our last chance was to stop and wait for the things to happen.

And we didn't have to wait the bear got closer, there was no doubt that he wanted either us or our backpacks. When he finally showed us his full size of at least 8 feet, acompanied by a weird noise the decision was quickly made. We took off our backpacks and slowly retreated. It actually worked...!...the bear had something to play (we heard the sound of cracking backpacks) and left us alone.
Two hours later we decided to go back to the place of crime with the hope that the bear was gone by now...well...what shall I say...he was still sitting on top of a backpack!
Fortunately at that very moment, we met a couple coming from the other direction. We couldn't believe our luck, since we haven't been meeting people for days on that trail. Plus, they carried a gun, which turned out to be of no big help. The guy fired six rounds in the direction of the bear...nothing happened. The bear didn't even react. So we finally lined up and shouted and screamed and waved and did whatever came into our minds...and eventually made the bear take off...really fast by the way.
The whole story might read like a funny experience...but believe me, it's NOT!!! When the bear stood 12 feet in front of me, I heard my heart pounding like I never heard it the end, we were very lucky that he only got our backpacks...

Panorama of Seward - Kenai Mountains

After that experience we went back to Anchorage and moved on to our next destinations, after we purchased a new backpack. But since the weather was extremely good at the end of our vacation, we decided to go to the Kenai Peninsula again (this time by car).
Seward provides a beautiful background with the Kenai Mountains and the Exit Glacier close by is always worth a short sidetrip.

Exit Glacier
A view miles north of Seward starts a trail to the Resurection Pass in the Kenai Mountains. It makes a good one day hike and is fairly easy to moderate.
The view from a closeby summit is really outstanding and defenitely worth the trip.

views from Resurection Pass

On the west side of the Peninsula is Homer, a small village beautifully located at Kachemak Bay. This is the starting point for trips to Kachemak Bay State Park on the other side of the bay.
The only way to get there is by boat. It's quite expensive plus we didn't have enough time for a hike, so we had to be satisfied by the fantastic views from the Homer side to the Kenai Mountains.

Kachemak Bay Chugach Mountains

By the's also a nice experience to take the old train from Anchorage to Seward. It's not the fastest way to get to the Kenai Peninsula but certainly the most scenic one. You'll get fantastic views of the Chugach Mountains, glaciers and waterfalls.

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