Soldotna, a fishing town of about 4,000 people, sits along the Kenai River in the western lowlands.I was met there by Dolly Hills and Heidi Metteer, Rick’s longtime partner.
Also found at the site were three hunting knives, two quarters, two metal buttons, a zipper, and part of a Samsung mobile phone.
The skull was resting on its side, the face angled toward the ground. The Alaska State Troopers arrived by helicopter and salvaged what they could.
“The bones were close to being ash,” Lieutenant Kat Shuey later recalled.
But the condition of the bones made determining the cause of death impossible. He could have tumbled down one of several steep embankments nearby and broken his neck.
He could have run into the wrong bear; as many as 4,000 of them roam the peninsula, including some of the largest brown bears on the planet.