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Alaska 2005
  • Territory: Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska
  • Time: May - August 2005, 6000 miles traveled
  • Vessel: "Teacup", Nordic Tug 37
  • Intent: Go where no reasonable person wants to go.

Copyright © 2005, P. Lutus. All rights reserved.

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Bear Footwear
If you get close enough to bears to see their claws in any detail, chances are you are too close, but apart from that, you can use the condition of its claws to judge a bear's age and experiences. Unlike human teeth, bears get one set of claws, and they tend to be careful with them.

Older bears frequently have worn claws, claws not so useful for fine work like opening shellfish, and worn claws mark a bear's twilight years for some very practical reasons. In a bear's environment, worn claws may quickly decide its fate.

In Alaska's sometimes rough country, bear claws are a perfect adaptation for reasons other than self-defense and shell cracking. While hiking in steep or icy terrain, I am sometimes jealous of bears, who don't have to use crampons or ice axes — their climbing equipment is built in.

Young Tanya walking on a rocky beach ...
claws raised, protected.
An older female bear,
with older claws,
but they can still ...
open shellfish.
Bears' feet ...
are perfect snowshoes.

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