The bear known as “Chino” and the male cub she adopted in 2012 at Pack Creek.
Chino and her first set of cubs wading Pack Creek in 2017.
on hats. When Chino was a yearling, she and an unrelated male spring cub developed a friendship. The two mothers tolerated one another, and the families were often together. When their mothers kicked them out, the two youngsters stuck together for a couple years. The male bear was a bit lazy and depended heavily on Chino to give him salmon she caught. Their relationship ended as abruptly as it began once he began trying to mount Chino a bit too frequently. In 2016, Pascoe returned to Pack Creek to find Chino nursing two cubs of her own. “It was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed. I feel really fortunate to have been out there so long. I realize how lucky I am,” Pascoe said. No one would be surprised if Pascoe wandered off in the woods and lived full time with the bears of Admiralty Island someday. But in 2019, at least, you’ll find her at Pack Creek happily greeting visitors and watching over the bears. Bjorn Dihle is a Juneau writer. You can contact or follow him at facebook.com/BjornDihleauthor or instagram.com/bjorndihle/.
wall tent on Windfall Island, a five-minute skiff ride from the south spit of Pack Creek. During peak season, beginning July 5 and ending August 25, she and three other rangers work six-hour shifts at the observatory from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. To preserve Pack Creek’s wilderness character, only 24 people are permitted to visit each day during peak season. Pascoe’s duties include orienting visitors, helping boats anchor, and making sure floatplanes don’t get stranded in an ebbing tide. Her biggest goal is making sure people don’t displace or stress bears. If Pascoe is working the morning shift, it’s her job to make dinner for the rest of the crew. The rangers also have a wide range of camp chores and maintain a mile-long trail through the old growth forest to a viewing tower. If Pascoe has spare time, and the weather isn’t terrible, she often walks the trail or sits out in the estuary. When the weather is nasty, a common phenomenon in Southeast, Pascoe finds solace in a book and hot cup of tea. Sometimes, during calm, pleasant evenings, she’ll kayak around Windfall Island and take in the crimson play of colors on the ocean and mountains of Admiralty. Around two dozen brown bears use Pack Creek during the summer; additional bears inhabit the watershed during the spring and fall when there are very few to no human visitors. Each bear has a different level of tolerance for people. Pascoe and the rangers come up with nicknames for the bears that are regularly seen and seem comfortable around people. The nursing yearling cub that had so mesmerized Pascoe is known as Chino, and she’s now an adult. Pascoe loves that bear more than ice cream, puppies, and maybe even her husband. “She’s an exception. I’ve watched her grow up and had countless solo encounters with her, and every one of them has been positive,” Pascoe said. When Chino was a subadult, she spent a half hour lying near Pascoe before chasing a mink in circles around the ranger. On another occasion, Chino sat in the creek, grabbed floating salmon, and put them on top of her own head like she was trying A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M JULY/AUGUST 2019
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Alaska Magazine July 2019