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!