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Ron Waggoner | all galleries >> Galleries >> Cold Bay Air Force Station, Alaska > High Tide
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May, 1970 Ron Waggoner

High Tide

Cold Bay, AK

This was the first picture I took after arriving at the radar site. I had hiked along the beach, going in and out of several inlets until reaching a point jutting into the water. There, I took this picture. The beach and site were on the Izembek Lagoon, situated along the Bering Sea.
Many of us spent quite a bit of our free time hiking the beaches in the proximity of the site. I did this quite often. Usually, one or more of our five dogs would accompany me on these walks. I remember that we had a mother and four of her “pups”( full-grown dogs at the time) as our furry friends. Mitzi and her offspring were Labrador Retrievers, or maybe mixed breeds. Site lore was that one or more of the pups were sired by a wolf that made periodic visits to the site. (I once took pictures of a wolf there. However, I couldn’t verify that there was any mating. Ha!) Anyway, it was comforting to have these canine friends with me, especially when I went hiking with no human companions.
On one rare occasion when none of the dogs went with me on a solitary beach walk, I had a very scary experience that created a vivid memory that I carry to this day. I had walked quite a distance northeast along the beach(the direction from which this picture was taken) before deciding to return home. While still a long walk from the site, I decided to hike back atop the “dune”, if that is the proper terminology for the bank above the beach. I had not walked far before I found myself looking down into a large hole filled with fur the same color that I had seen on our bruin visitors. These brown bears grow to a massive size...larger that their cousins, the inland Grizzly! When it dawned on me that I might have stumbled upon a sleeping bear, I turned and ran across the tundra until my lungs felt like they were going to burst! I still remember jumping from crest to crest on that tundra trying to get away as fast as I could, knowing full well that if a bear was chasing me I would be caught in no time at all. I had heard stories of them running thirty miles per hour through that tundra. Luckily, when I did turn to look, I saw nothing chasing me. I returned to the Site, and swore to myself that I was never again hiking in that area without at least one of the dogs to warn me of the presence of bears!

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