Tag: Coastal Brown Bear

It’s a Wrap – Departure Day

29 August 2015, Saturday

Woke up to a gorgeous sunrise, although we didn’t go out. It was beautiful from the window in our room. We had an early flight this morning – our plane was picking us up at 8am.

Finally remembered to take a photo of our room – this is the Bear’s Den room in the main lodge. It has a private bath with large shower, and nice views of both the meadow and the back of the lodge. It is our favorite, and we had this room on both of our trips.

After breakfast, it was time to say goodbyes, and then load up for the ride to the beach.

We landed safely in Anchorage, where we were taken back to the Lake Front Hotel. Lou and I were staying on for another week. We had a second photo tour scheduled to see Denali in the fall!

Thoughts on our Bear Viewing Adventure – the trip exceeded expectations, which is always a good thing. We really had no idea how many bears we would see. We didn’t know what the lodge would be like; all we knew is the Van Os group usually picks decent places to stay. As it turned out, the Alaska Homestead Lodge was one of the highlights of the trip – comfortable, clean, great food, awesome staff, and Shelia and James are wonderful hosts.

Seeing the bears up close, and spending time watching them in their natural habitat was wonderful. Amazing, spectacular, awesome — what other superlatives can we use? We definitely hope to go back again.

Comparing our two trips to Silver Salmon Creek – 2015 vs 2019 – It’s no secret that I am finishing up this report 4 years after the event, and also after having completed the 2019 Adventure and Report. So how do the trips compare?

First, the obvious difference is the first trip was with a photo tour group, the second was booked on our own. Going as part of the tour group for our first adventure was good, as all arrangements were taken care of, and we didn’t have to worry about airport transfers etc. We also had the same travel group at the lodge for the entire 5 days. Fortunately, we got on well with all of our group, so this worked out fine.

Making the arrangements for the second trip was easy, because we knew what to expect. Some of the folks at the lodge were there the same five days we were, but people did rotate in and out. This was nice, as we got a chance to meet people from Germany and Australia. We generally had a smaller group for our photography sessions, and I thought this was a plus. I am sure we will book future trips on our own, as there is no need to pay extra for a tour company to make the arrangements. It is worth noting that the Van Os Photo Safaris are generally not teaching workshops – the leader is there to oversee the agenda and arrangements, but this isn’t really needed at Silver Salmon Creek, because the lodges provide their own guides. There are other photography tours to Silver Salmon Creek where more photography instruction is provided, if desired.

And, a few words on the bears we saw. We saw fewer bears on our first trip in 2015, and much of our time was spent with Crimp Ear and the two cubs. Looper provided some excitement as well. We also had more photo sessions where we didn’t see any bears at all – but this wasn’t a big issue, because we figured that’s just the way it works. We did get two evenings of wonderful bear viewing and photography out at the beach, where the lighting was perfect, and the bears cooperative. And I doubt much can compare to the thrill of having my first bear charge right at me, thinking this might be my first and last day at Silver Salmon Creek. Lou still laughs when he thinks about this experience.

The second trip in 2019 was filled with more variety. We were fortunate to see two sows with spring cubs – one with three, and one with two. We saw 3-5 year old juveniles playing and sparring. The weather was perfect all week, too warm some days perhaps. We were only skunked on one outing, and managed to see bears at all of our other sessions. This isn’t something I would count on, but it made for a great trip. The 2019 trip will be tough to beat! Except for Lou whacking his head on the bench, of course. We can do without that; right now we are contemplating a return visit in 2021, probably earlier in the season.

Thanks to those of you who have followed our journey, especially if you’ve been hanging around for four years to see the conclusion of the 2015 report!

Closing Our Adventure

It was after 8:00pm, and almost time to go back to the Lodge. We saw one of the cubs clowning around on his back, while Mama looked on.

I recall this little guy lying there moaning and groaning like he had a terrible tummy ache … if the salmon flakes on his forehead are any indication, he probably ate way too much today.

Sibling play is enough to make one forget about an upset tummy.

We thought the bears were headed back to the creek crossing, so we hustled back there and set up. Fitting, since this is where we started our adventure. Only … they never came this way. Chris, our guide, spotted them back at the beach, so off we went.

They were scavenging. And of course, if one cub has a fish, no matter how disgusting it is, the other one wants it …

After 8:30pm, and we were losing the light, as the bears left the water and meandered up to the trees. They were in no hurry, and neither were we. What a spectacular last day!

Leaving only footprints …

Click HERE to say goodbye to Silver Salmon Creek and The Alaska Homestead Lodge

Looper Takes Charge

Crimp Ear was enjoying fishing, and the cubs were lounging on the beach. And then … Looper shows up. Running straight at Crimp Ear. Bear Fight ???!!!

Crimp Ear decides not to do battle today, and retreats back towards the cubs. Looper continues charging forward, maybe ready to do some fishing.

That’s a lot of bear. She is a big one, for sure.

She wanders towards a photography group across the way from where we are standing. She was fairly close. They were told just to stand very still. She circled around, sat down, and then decided to take a nap.

We turned our attention back to Crimp Ear and the cubs … see more in the next post.

Click HERE to read about the final hour of our Bear Adventure.

Lunch, a Mid-Day Break, and More Bears

After seeing the flagrant violation of rules and disregard for the bears, we returned to the Lodge for lunch and a rest. As you can see, the guys are wiped out! Lou and I took breaks most afternoons, but some of the guys went to every session.

Lunch looked good – noodles, broccoli stir fry, and grilled chicken. And of course, cookies.

And since we are eating, I will just go straight into dinner. As I mentioned, Lou and I didn’t go out for the afternoon session. We rested, and also visited with the Ranger who came by the Lodge to interview some of us and pick up some photos of the fishing incident.

Dinner started with a salad and the ever-present wonderfully fresh-baked rolls.

I remember this dinner like it was just a short four years ago … which is to say, I have no idea what the main course was, since I apparently didn’t get a photo. I’m going to guess grilled salmon, since it was our last night at the lodge. I was obviously distracted by this amazing Boston Creme Cake …

Now that we have caught up on food, let’s turn back to the bears. We spotted Crimp Ear and cubs from the lounge window – looks like they were heading back to the beach. Off we went.

Crimp Ear was successful with the fishing right away. I also notice how once the fish stops wiggling, the bears almost always set it down so they can shake out the water from their fur.

No one is going hungry tonight! This is just the start of the show. We will break here, and come back for more in the next post.

Click HERE for, yes, more …more bears!

Scandal at Silver Salmon Creek

We left off with our last post showing one of the cubs with a rather large salmon. Did this little bear catch this big fish?

Let’s look closely. There is something odd about this fish.

His fish has a rather large hook in its mouth. In fact, the little bear 🐻 may have thought he caught it, but he actually just picked it off the string of salmon some lazy fisherman had left in the creek.

There are strict rules in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve … all fish must be put into a fish box, and cannot be left on a stringer in the creek. The person who was fishing here broke that rule, and the infraction was witnessed by a Park Ranger. The real danger is the bears associating humans with food. In the worst case scenario, the bears would be put down.

We continued documenting the activities of the bears.

The bears did feast on the salmon, but fortunately, they were not too interested in the human goods. After their salmon lunch, Mama allowed the cubs to nurse.

We continued watching from across the creek, as the bears napped. Mama would lie her head down briefly, then lift up and scope out the area, but they did not appear to be stressed.

The gal on the right side of this photo is a Ranger. She told us both the fisherman and his guide would most likely be fined. The guide was one who flew in for the day, not one from the local lodges. Later that afternoon, another Ranger visited the lodge to interview us, and also collected some photographs. Interfering with the bears is a serious offense.

One last look at the resting trio, before they ambled away to new territory.

Click HERE to continue following our last day’s adventures.

Our Last Day of Bear Hunting at Silver Salmon Creek

28 August 2015, Friday

A sunrise excursion was on the agenda for our last full day at the Alaska Homestead Lodge. Encouraged by seeing bears the previous afternoon, we were all hoping for a bountiful end to our tour.

We spent some time amongst the rocks and tide pools at the beach today. Found lots of interesting creatures.

That was interesting, but now it is time for the main attraction … BEARS! We were happy to see Crimp Ear and cubs, having missed them the last few sessions.

We watched Crimp Ear fish for a while, although we didn’t see her catch anything during this session – surprising because she is an excellent fisher-bear.

Then more serious fishing:

Still coming up empty handed, the bears decided to try a new territory. There, they got lucky immediately. But wait, there is a story here.

Click HERE to find out more about the little bear and big fish.