Ma'ah Waits For Salmon
This Kermode (Ursus americanus kermodei) or Spirit Bear, known to the locals as Ma'ah, is thought to be 18 years old, and has birthed many cubs, some white some black, who in turn have birthed their own. Ma'ah is a gentle spirit, and has a kind soul. For much of her life she has roamed the island on which she was born and lived in peace and harmony with the Gitga'at people, eating berries before the salmon arrive at her stream and gorging on the salmon for the few short weeks they are around before hibernating for the winter.
Sometimes there is an image you want and you are willing to risk getting nothing to get it. After scouting out possible locations I realized I wanted an image of a spirit bear in front of these falls. This is what I would call a high risk, high reward location. The area is not a primary feeding zone for the bear. With the salmon count down the bears were focusing on the lower creek where the fish were pooling. There are fish in the deep pool below the falls but it is deep enough that it is very difficult for the bears to catch them. Several times I hiked to this spot and waited for hours. All but the last was a bust.
On the last day of my trip, I asked if it was ok to go one last time. Sometime earlier I saw Ma’ah head up the creek. It was midday and she might have gone to find a place to bed down, or… I said we would just take a quick peek and if she was not there we would turn right around. When I arrived at the spot, I looked over the crest and saw no bears. I was disillusioned. On a hunch, I decided to take one more step and look almost directly down, and to my awe and delight, there she was!!