Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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A Visit to Talkeetna

Nagley's Store - Talkeetna, Alaska
Yesterday, Vince, myself, and one of my employees volunteered in Talkeetna for their Earth Day festivities.

Talkeetna – a quirky little town of about 800 residents – is about an hour from where we live. It’s famous for being the home base for climbers of Mt. McKinley, the inspiration for the town of Cicely on the TV show Northern Exposure, and as the filming location for the Disney film Snow Dogs.

Bustling downtown #Talkeetna, #Alaska. Can't wait for many summer adventures here!Untitled

I’ve visited the town several times in years past but it never gets old. I absolutely love its artsy vibe, unique stores, and fun restaurants.

After helping out the National Park Service at their event, we headed to the Roadhouse for a treat. Vince and I shared a giant cinnamon roll with frosting. Oh my. It was delicious! We’ll definitely be stopping by again on our next visit.Talkeetna RoadhouseTalkeetna RoadhouseEnjoying a "Frosty" after our Earth Day volunteer project. So good!He said it was "too sweet." He has so many things to learn, my new American boy! ;)

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A Sobering Reminder

Toklat River–NPS photo

Early this morning I got an email at work with a press release from the National Park Service in Denali:

Denali Park, AK: Denali National Park and Preserve officials confirm that a solo backpacker was killed by a grizzly bear along the Toklat River the afternoon of Friday, August 24.A wallet with probable identification of the victim was found near the kill site, and NPS rangers are working to make positive confirmation and notify next of kin.

Friday afternoon, three dayhikers first discovered an abandoned backpack along the Toklat River approximately 3 miles south of the Toklat River Rest Area.Upon further investigation, they saw evidence of a violent struggle, including torn clothing and blood.They immediately hiked back to the Rest Area and notified the NPS staff of the findings at approximately 5:30 pm.

Park rangers launched a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft from park headquarters at 8:00 pm.Searchers on the aircraft located the scene at 8:35 pm.At least one grizzly bear was still at the site, although there may have been multiple bears.The bear(s) moved away when the helicopter approached and landed.Two rangers on board the helicopter got out and confirmed the location of the victim’s remains.

Initial evidence indicates that the attack occurred proximate to the river’s open braided gravel bar, although the bear subsequently dragged the remains to a more secluded, brushy cache site.After conducting an initial surveillance of the site, the rangers determined that the recovery of the remains would need to wait until daylight due to the presence of bears and the waning light.

Park officials believe that there are no other registered backpackers in the immediate vicinity.An emergency closure has been put in place, prohibiting all backcountry hiking and camping in that backcountry unit until further notice.

Park rangers will return to the incident scene on Saturday morning, August 25, to secure the site, recover the remains, and attempt to locate the predatory bear.Wildlife biologists estimate that roughly 12 grizzly bears have been residing in the vicinity of the kill site this summer.

This incident is the first known bear mauling fatality recorded in Denali National Park and Preserve. All backpackers in the park receive mandatory ‘Bear Aware’ training prior to receiving a backcountry permit, including a 30-minute safety video, a safety briefing from the backcountry ranger staff, and all backpackers are required to carry a Bear Resistant Food Container (BRFC). (http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/bearsafety.htm).

More details on this fatal incident will be released as the investigation continues.

An update from this evening is here.

(More details: The hiker was far too close to the bear; taking photos for at least 8 minutes from no more than 50 yards away. Park Rangers still haven’t been able to recover the body, and a suspect bear was shot and killed.)

Denali National Park is an amazing place filled with incredible wildlife. This incident should not put people off from visiting the park and venturing into the back country. What it should do is serve as a reminder that these are wild animals, in a rugged and unforgiving environment,  and no photo is worth losing your life over.

Not only did a person lose their life for simply being careless, but a bear had to lose its life over following its natural instincts.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the hiker.

W.

:::