When we flew to Kambalnoe Lake on May 28, 1997, we descended
into a white world. The average snow cover was 7 feet and many
of the bears were still in their dens. The lake was frozen and
did not thaw until the first week in July. June was a beautiful
sttnny month and then the weather we were accustomed to returned.
Two voles had moved into our cabin over the winter but other
than that, it was in good condition. We felt we had returned
to our second home.
We have become familiar with approximately 36 resident bears
that frequent the area around Kambalnoe Lake where our cabin
is located. In the spring, when we arrived, there were 9 freshly
used dens that we could see from our porch. It was a thrill one
day to watch first the nose and finally the whole bear emerge
from the snow as it climbed out of it's den to take its first
look at the country in six months. We are not sure of the bear
count around our lake and the area between us and the coast.
We have estimated around 400 based on what we can see and count.
One day I, Charlie, flew back and forth to the coast 4 times
to get fire wood and counted 171 bears that day. It could well
be that this area hosts the densest population of grizzly bears
in the world.
Storm Damages Plane
The worst storm that we had to date hit on the morning of June
30th and caught us by surprise as the bad storms are reported
to taper off in April and pick up again in September. Charlie
got up several times during the night to add ground screws and
tie-downs as the storm increased. At six A.M. he added a 70 pound
solar storage battery to the tie-downs on each wing. Maureen
got up at 7 A.M. and let out a shout that the plane was
upside down. We looked beyond the plane at a wall of water being
picked up off the lake as the wind escalated to 130 kph, gusting
to 160 kph. The preceding gust had torn out all the ground screws
- the plane must have flown up about 10 feet and then crunched
down on the tail, going over on its back with one of the big
batteries coming right through the left wing. Charlie did an
inventory of the damage filling 3 pages of tasks to get the plane
flying again. He realized that he had managed to bring enough
spare pop rivets, Dacron cloth, aluminium tubing and tools to
pretty well do the repairs. Maureen dreamed up a way to heat
shrink the Dacron with a small 6 inch frying pan filled with
discs of metal to hold the heat when held over our small gas
stove. After converting our cabin into a workshop for 3 weeks,
we were in the air and the plane never flew better.