To finish up our first day at Silver Salmon Creek, we left the creek area and went back to the beach. There we saw a boat doing some fishing with nets – legal a couple days each week, and a plane. The plane was just parked on the beach, probably belonged to a fly-in guide with either fishermen or bear viewers.
Crimp Ear and the cubs had made their way to the beach … we watched them for awhile, but they were just lounging – no fishing, no sparring.
We then followed them back to the river area before going in for dinner at 7pm. We ate well (again), and went back out for a short run, but didn’t see anything exciting. Funny how 3 hours ago, we’d never seen a bear up close, and now it is not “exciting” if they don’t do anything special.
In retrospect, just being a bear is pretty special.
Will get more creative with titles in future posts, just trying to get a few photos up while we are back at the hotel before leaving for Denali tomorrow (it is now Saturday afternoon).
After lunch at the lodge, we headed right back out to hunt for bears. The plan was generally the same – load up into the carts, go out to the beach and go up and down the beach to see if we could find bears.
If there were no bears on the beach, we would go to the river to see if they were at any of their favorite places – this would involve crossing the river in the carts, and sometimes the guys had to get out so we didn’t get stuck …
Here we are, waiting and hoping to see some bears. The guides would communicate via radio to let each other know if any bears had been spotted.
We finally spot our first bear on the bank of the river … we were all excited!
Even more so once we saw this was a Mother Bear with two cubs – they were last spring’s cubs, but still very cute:
We watched the bears from a good distance – most everyone had good zoom lenses on their cameras, or binoculars. That happens to be our Lodge in the background, across the meadow:
Mama Bear – called Crimp Ear – splashed around in the water, but didn’t catch any fish (even though we could see lots of salmon swimming in the stream):
She decided to let the cubs nurse, and they all took a nap:
Mama saw something, jumped up to investigate, then began to run and splash into the creek:
And then … she started straight towards me and I had no idea what to do!!! Fortunately, she stopped about 10-12 feet away. She was just looking for fish, but this was honestly a very scary moment. She was so close, I couldn’t even adjust the zoom to fit the bear in the frame, let alone get the focus correct!
Whew! Once I knew the bear wasn’t going to eat me or my fellow photographers, it was possible to settle down and get some shots.
She made another charge towards the other end of the line of photographers – where she did catch a fish. Lou was at that end of the line and has some photos of the fish catching:
She splashed around some more, then all three bears decided it was nap time again:
That was an exciting afternoon! We saw a lot of this Mama Bear and her two cubs, but they were always entertaining.
More bears to come, but this is enough to give you a flavor for what it was like to be up close to the bears.
Here we go … Part 1 of our adventure. We met our photo tour group early Monday morning in the hotel lobby, and took a short van ride to the airport. We boarded an 11 passenger Otter and soon took off for Lake Clark National Park. We were not on a float plane; we would be doing a beach landing.
We flew past Mount Redoubt – which is an active volcano that occasionally spews ash over Anchorage:
This is the type of Coastal Landscape we would be seeing a lot of in the coming week:
The beach – where we will land:
Unloading the plane … just as soon as we got off, another group boarded the plane to head out:
These little carts would become our best friends in the coming week, as they hauled us and our gear around as we tried to keep up with the bears:
Part of our group – on the left is Perry, our leader, and the other folks are a Canadian family – Gary, Carmella, and David. We were lucky to have a nice group of folks to travel with, and everyone got along well.
Our first view of the Alaska Homestead Lodge – our home for the next five days:
After unloading our luggage and putting on some boots, we headed out on our first bear hunt:
We drove across the creek, up the beach, down the beach, and back across the creek, but no bears this morning. We did see a beautiful bald eagle:
Time for lunch, we were back at the Lodge were Chef Michael served the first of many wonderful meals. For lunch, we had bar-b-que pork sandwiches with homemade rolls, chicken salad, cookies, and more. The food was always outstanding!
Up Next: The afternoon adventure – will we see a bear????
Some info about where we are heading tomorrow – Lake Clark National Park is one of three very large National Parks in the Southern half of Alaska (Denali and Katmai being the other two). Lake Clark NP was established in 1980 and includes over 4 million square miles of wilderness – including glaciers, volcanoes, forests, lakes, and coastal wetlands. It is twice the size of Yellowstone but is one of our least-visited National Parks because you can only get there by small plane or by boat, and there aren’t many places to stay if you aren’t a backpacker or camper.
We will be visiting an area called Silver Salmon Creek.
We will be staying at a small lodge on the coast called The Alaska Homestead Lodge. The reason most people come here is to see and photograph Coastal Brown Bears in their natural habitat. More about how that works out once we get there. Coastal Brown Bears are also called Grizzly Bears, but Grizzlies typically live inland – like the ones in Denali National Park. Coastal Brown Bears are usually larger than Grizzlies and can weigh 1,000 lbs. Coastal Bears have access to more protein, especially salmon – so they tend to outgrow their cousins, the Grizzlies.
Back to Lake Clark National Park – we have never been on land here, but we have flown over it. On our last trip to Alaska, we took a one day outing to Redoubt Bay. We were hoping to see black bears, but it was mid-June and a bit early in the season. We did, however, see some beautiful scenery – some photos from our previous trip:
That will be us tomorrow, leaving on a Floatplane for The Alaska Homestead Lodge. Wish us luck! Internet may not be available from the Lodge, but we will update when we can.
We are in Alaska! After almost 20 hours of travel yesterday, we arrived at midnight in Anchorage – remember, there is a four hour time change. We checked into our hotel and slept all the way until 5:30am this morning. Our plan is just to relax for a couple of days to adjust to the time change, then we join up with our travel group to head to Lake Clark National Park. There, we will be bear huntin’.
A big thanks to Mij, who is staying home with the dogs. She said they spent a lot of time in the kitchen window, waiting for our return. Once they figure out Mij will feed them, and knows where the doggie cookies are, they will be fine.
Leaving Northport Friday morning – it was foggy, and stayed that way for the whole drive to Portland:
Arrived at the Portland Airport with no problem. Upon arrival at our gate for our 12:20pm departure, we found it crowded with people waiting to take off on their 7:30am departure!!! Yes – it was almost 11am and they were still waiting. The good news is … Delta provided donuts:
The bad news – I ate two donuts (had to eat one for Lou, since he behaved). It was total chaos, but we departed just a little late for our trip to Atlanta. Things went smoothly from there, as we connected to Seattle, then to Anchorage.
Had a snack on our first flight – didn’t know whether to smoke it or eat it:
We were served dinner on the way to Seattle, and it was one of the better airplane meals we’ve had:
We are staying at the Lake Front Hotel in Anchorage, just minutes from the airport, and located on Lake Hood. Lake Hood is where all the Float Planes live, so we can watch the planes as we recover from jet lag. Tomorrow evening we hook up with our Photo Tour Group, departing Monday morning for Lake Clark National Park.
A couple early morning photos of Lake Hood – this is the largest Float Plane base in the world: