It turns out that Savage River parallels the park road, and while hiking I noticed that a lot of people were stopping their cars and staring out in my direction (“Stop the RV, Earl! What sort of weird-lookin’ critter is that?”) so I decided to cross to the opposite side of the river and head away from the road. The water was full of silt, and the next time I attempt to ford a river in Alaska I’ll remember to first check the depth in places where I can’t see the bottom.
Once on the other side of the river I started out across a thicket and nearly walked in amongst a group of four big caribou before noticing them resting about a hundred yards away. It took about twenty minutes for them to get completely comfortable with having me around, but after that they pretty much ignored my existence, occasionally grazing to within about sixty feet of me. It was another very cool experience — having four caribou, including one huge old bull, wandering around that close to me is something I’ll remember for a long time to come.
After a few hours the rain got heavier so I left the caribou and started back, and an hour or so later I arrived at the Subaru thoroughly soaked but very happy.