Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bear Farewell

Last day aboard the Coastal Explorer and photographing bears along the Katmai coast.  We had a few familiar faces visit this morning to feed on the salmon streams and a sow and cub put on a good show for us.  To view brown bears up close and personal like we did was amazing, hair raising at times, but absolutely incredible!  Its hard to leave...

We flew by floatplane back to Kodiak Island this afternoon and passed over several pods of whales including Humpbacks and Fin Whales.  We'll head back to Anchorage tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Up Close & Personal

The bear activity has been really good in Geographic Harbor even though the weather hasn't been that great.  Rainy and low cloud cover all day.  More cubs visited today and they are too cute and look like little fur balls.


More bears...

Moved from Kinak Bay to Geographic Harbor last night to find more brown bears.  We are still in Katmai.  The scenery surrounding the bay is amazing!  And there are plenty of bears in the area. Not as many salmon running here but saw more bears today than any other day.  And the bears are very comfortable with our presence and approach fairly close allowing us to use wide angle lenses which I didn't expect.  

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bears everywhere!

Bears, bears and more bears...we're averaging around a dozen sightings per day.  When they're not fishing, they are napping along the shoreline.  We've also seen other wildlife including Bald Eagles, Wolverine, Harbor Seals, Stellar Sea Lions and Moose.


And the hunt begins...

Lots and lots of brown bears...we've seen several sows with cubs, one with 3 cubs and several boars.  They don't pay us any attention, too busy fishing for salmon in streams.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Katmai Coast

First day in Katmai National Park.  We're staying on a 70 ft vessel and take a sciff to the shoreline to hike along the salmon streams to view bears.  This area is home to the Coastal Brown Bear and right now they are feeding on Silver Salmon.  We will spend the next 3 days in Kinak Bay.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Journey to Kodiak

Drove from Wasilla to Anchorage on Day 6 to find out our flight to Kodiak had been cancelled due to weather. Crashed in the RV one more night.  Rescheduled on flight next morning which did happen, but then couldn't land on Kodiak Island due to heavy fog so returned to Anchorage.  Rescheduled again later that morning and finally made it to Kodiak Island around noon on Day 7.  More severe weather is expected tomorrow so after only being in Kodiak for about 3 hrs, we're now flying out a day early to the Coastal Explorer boat which will be our home for next 6 days.  It is anchored in Kinak Bay along the coast of Katmai National Park.

Monday, September 7, 2009

On the road again...

Headed out early to photograph sunrise and more moose.  Found a nice Bull Moose right after sunrise.  We started the day with cloudy skies after getting a little rain last night so Mt. McKinley wasn't visible early.  But by mid morning, the skies opened up and now for the 5th day in a row, we have clear views of the mountain.  Took a few parting shots before we left Denali National Park to head south back to Anchorage.  It was an amazing experience and we timed it just right with the peak of Fall colors.  And were extremely lucky with the great weather allowing us to enjoy clear views of Mt. McKinley everday.  Apparently only 30% of visitors are lucky enough to see the mountain due to it being in the clouds most of the time.  We definitely consider ourselves lucky - what an unbelievable experience!  We're camping at a RV park in Wasilla tonight and tomorrow we fly to Kodiak Island.


Ended our stay at Kantishna and caught an early ride to Wonder Lake to photograph the mountain in morning light.  Rode shuttle bus out park road and enjoyed amazing views along the way.  Saw some wildlife - 5 sheep up on a cliff and 1 Cow Moose in the Savage River Valley.  Took drive at dusk and spotted a Porcupine, lots of rabbits and a Lynx.  The moose weren't out tonight...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kantishna Hills

We're staying in a small lodge tucked in the Kantishna Hills of Denali National Park and it is host to all the bush pilots doing sightseeing tours in the park.  Interesting hearing their tales and one pilot that flew in today had to dodge a Bull Moose on the landing strip.  Hiked around northern end of Wonder Lake with once again, a perfectly clear view of Mt. McKinley and the Alaskan Range.

Top of the World

Camped in Denali National Park campground last night in our 25 ft RV which is working out to be really convenient.  Woke up to another day of great weather and clear views of Mt. McKinley. Photographed 3 Bull Moose this morning - very cool and they are huge!  Took a flight from park entrance to the interior of park flying over the autumn colored tundra and snow capped mountain peaks of the Alaskan Range.  Climbed up to 12,000 ft for closeup views of Mt. McKinley.  Also spotted wildlife from plane - 5 caribou and a Sow Grizzly with 3 cubs.  Awesome ride!  Reached our lodge in Kantishna and took a hike up a nearby ridge to see another view of Alaskan Range.  Took shuttle to south end of Wonder Lake and photographed Mt. McKinley reflecting in a pond at sunset/twilight.  The light on the mountains was magical.  We had a long trek back to the lodge, but luckily had a full moon to guide the way.  We were exhausted yet exhilarated.  It had to be one of the longest days of my life.  From the beautiful sunrise to chasing moose to flying over the tallest peak in North America and witnessing its beautiful reflection at twilight, it will be hard to top a day like this!

Friday, September 4, 2009

First View Mt McKinley

Drove up from Anchorage last night and camped in RV campground in Talkeetna.  Greeted with clear skies and cool temps and were lucky enough to catch our first view of the big mountain this morning - Mt. McKinley, 20,320 ft.  Made several stops along the Parks Hwy on way up to Denali National Park.  Arrived in the park mid afternoon to find fall colors at peak.  The tundra is blanketed in reds and yellows and the aspens, cottonwoods and birch trees are all glowing.  Took a drive into the park and saw first grizzly and about 10 moose. Like bear jams back in the Smokies, Denali has "moose jams".  Ended the day watching the full moon rise over the Alaskan Range.