You go to them. That is what we did. It all started with lunch and my good friend Lisa, (she does amazing wildlife photography trips to Alaska) plus a question about bears. I went with Lisa in 2018 (when I was more mobile) to Lake Clark National Park Chinitna Bay. Roy and I both knew that was a no-go this trip. So, what to do? Airplane to boat, to bear viewing from boat, back to airplane. My first thought was how is this going to work, I’m in a boat they are on shore (not much chance for action) I was thinking. Well, I am so glad I was wrong. I am getting ahead of myself.
This is exactly what we did with Alaska West Air. The staff there were able to help get us on the plane and then off the plane into the boat.
My only experience flying in Alaska had been in very tiny planes so you can imagine my surprise when I saw a nine-seater. Ok it wasn’t super spacious I did however have a window and some breathing room. I don’t like to fly this is one time Roy told me all I had to do was breathe and look out the window and that is what I did.
Now that we are on semi dry land, (ok a wooden dock with some steps) it was time to get in. It was cool they brought the boat to us as the others who were also getting in boats had to walk the plank. This is not only a bear viewing area it is also a great salmon fishing area.
Wolverine Creek/Redoubt Bay is on Big River Lakes, here is a description of the area we were at. We head directly to the base of Wolverine Creek and experienced a small version of combat fishing. I mean there had to be at least ten skiffs in this small area most were fishing. I caught some of their lines in my pictures which was a little annoying, but I was seeing bear. That made it OK.
It took a few minutes to navigate around the boats, but our guide Evan had us tucked into a nice cozy spot. Here, we could see the water and the shore. The first bear was trying and trying to grab a fish but to no avail, lots of splashing and coming up empty. He was trying to compete with the salmon fishers (they were winning)
He then decides to come over to our side of the creek. Which was a win for both of us he got some good fish, and I got some good photos. He did also have some fun blowing bubbles.
Maybe this was done to clear the palate, between morsels
There was another bear who stayed on shore and was intent on turning over every rock on the beach. He did get in the water once but there were no fireworks, the bear that was in the water was way too involved in his food.
The fireworks occurred when mama bear number one came on the scene. How to clear out a beach. She made short work of the land lover as all it took was a growl from behind the bushes and he was gone. The waterlogged bear took a few more antics to get him to go. This sow had 3 cubs that were just adorable in how they hung around mom.
I also saw a Common Merganser with some of her ducklings. I was hoping that they would catch a ride. They usually get a quick taxi ride on mom’s back. I did get to see that later though, so it wasn’t to disappoint.
The boat decided to head to a different part of the lake to see the actual place where the salmon spawn. I was like ok let’s go. I am glad we left because the journey over to the spawning grounds was very cold and foggy the reason for this is crossing the glacier melt it is cold coming right off the glacier. It was windy, damp, foggy, and spooky.
Once across to the fresh water the temperature warmed and so did the water. Side note here I did taste the glacier run off and it was like eating a pile of rock salt. The fresh water I did not taste as I did not want to reach in and touch some salmon. There were thousands of them here it was like watching the whole lake move. A picture could not capture the intensity of the end of one life cycle and the start of another.
Stopping at a waterfall was a chance to see freshwater mix with the glacier slit and watch clear blue water turn to a brackish grey.
We journey back to the bears although our vantage point was not as good as the first time there. I was still able to see a few bears. Mom and her three bears were still there but left shortly after our arrival. The next set of bears to come was a sow and two cubs. They were actually too hard to photograph so we moved on to Hidden Lake but ran across a distraction called a bear on an island. The cool thing was it was us and another boat for about 5 minutes.
Hidden Lake was the best place to end the day because it was so peaceful and quiet except for the sound of my voice in this video.
From here it was back to the plane and the return trip home. I told you I am not fond of planes, so the return trip was in a smaller beaver plane. I almost wanted to say I’ll stay here. I am glad I did not because flying over the glacier was awe inspiring. Pictures do not do it justice. We were able to see deep into some of the cracks in the glacier. It is a blue color that does not have a description. Then the lake was so blue black you could get lost just looking at it.
I will be posting a slide show of the trip in a separate post.
This bear viewing trip was much better than expected for me. I went in thinking it was going to be a disappointment because I wasn’t standing on land. Like everything I’ve had to adjust. This however is an adjustment I would do again. How else could you get pictures like these.
Plus, I don’t have to be the fastest runner just have a larger and quicker motor than everyone else.
4 thoughts on “When they won’t come to you.”
Bear-y good coverage … !!
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Thank you my Bear-y much
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Great pics. It looks like you guys had a great time and good weather. A win win. Following you guys here and Roy on LOA, Quince on LOA, and our friends who are up there in ther 5ver, is making us want to get back up there in the worst way. Enjoy and safe travels.
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Glenn, thank you. I would do it if I were you. It feels so different up here, I can’t explain it. Let’s just say the weather was a challenge to photograph but doable.
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