October 27, 2013 in Outdoors

Roughing it: Readers’ tales of encounters with bears, peaks

Doug Kelley photo

A brown bear sow and her two cubs pose for photographers who drew coveted permits to observe the bears as they congregate at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Alaska.
(Full-size photo)

Readers of The Spokesman-Review responded with tales of high adventure, family bonding and close encounters with bears when we asked them to share their stories and photos of memorable 2013 “outdoor summer vacations.” Linked below are samples of where Spokanites went to relax.

McNeil River bears

Magical is the first word Doug Kelley uses to describe being in the middle of the largest concentration of brown bears in the world.

He scored a permit in a lottery drawing to pack his camera and enjoy four days in the intimate proximity of huge bears living their normal routines in Alaska’s McNeil River State Game Sanctuary.

Read more about the McNeil River story.

Mount McKinley

I could have been on a beach like most of my friends. Instead, I was enduring July 4 at the stormy 17,300-feet high camp on Alaska’s Mount McKinley - cold, hungry and crammed in a tent with three climbers I had met two weeks prior in the Anchorage airport.

Growing up in an outdoor family with an uncle who has led 23 McKinley expeditions, a cousin who worked as a professional guide and a father who summited Mount Rainier and other peaks, the family adventure bar was set pretty high.

But with their help, and after landing a job at The North Face, I was able to gear up and turn my envy into determination.

Read more of the Mount McKinley story.

Ptarmigan Traverse

Self-reliance, a trustworthy companion plus a full-quiver of mountaineering skills are essential for navigating the Ptarmigan Traverse in the North Cascades.

“And the weather has to be on your side, or you just can’t move,” said George Momany, who completed the grueling five-day cross-country trek in September with former Spokanite Bill Erler.

The route begins from the Cascade River Road with nearly 4 miles on a relatively easy North Cascades National Park trail south of Ross Lake and state Route 20.

Read more of the Ptarmigan Traverse story.

Mount Baker

“We should do something this summer, Dad, we never hang out anymore.”

As the “Cat’s in the Cradle” started playing though my head, I paused mid-discussion with my 27-year-old son, Patrick, and acknowledged that it had been a long time.

I was thinking a blues festival or a backpacking trip. “Let’s climb Mount Baker!” he said, sensing he’d set the hook.

At 54, I hadn’t thought of doing a technical alpine climb since I was his age.

Read more of the Mount Baker story.

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