Wednesday, 25 February 2015

© Into the Alaska Wilderness!

Our adventure into the Alaska wilderness begins with friend and neighbour in the Bahamas, Paul Baker, hiring a 34ft Camper-van which he drives from Anchorage down the peninsular to Homer. We stop in the Harding Ice-fields (appropriate naming!) to explore some staggering scenery and walk to the glacier which is rapidly receding due to the warming climate.

In a few years the glacier will have receded over the top to disappear.

The vacant land and smooth rock faces where the glacier used to be & now receded.

Our transportation through the ice-field!

A stop in the Knik River Valley provided some fabulous camp sites and gorgeous views!

Finally down the far end of the peninsular we find the fishing town of Homer, the halibut capitol of Alaska.

A good 'fishy' story!

We found some 'salty characters' in Alaska and the saloons that go with the territory!

We continue the adventure with a flight over to Kodiak, a nature photographer's dream come true!

With the expertise and knowledgeable guidance of Captain Lee Robbins onboard the yacht 'Single Star' we venture into the far wilderness of Alaska's southern shoreline and north shore of
Kodiak Island.

Before we set off a lesson in fly-fishing from Capt. Lee and fresh salmon was soon hooked!

The journey out of Kodiak Harbour and around to the wilderness took several hours taking us close to the wildlife living in the Alaskan waters. We had close encounters with Sea Otters lying on their backs eating shellfish, pods of Killer Whales, large Sea Lions and incredible bird life.

Lee used to be a Bush Pilot years ago and made notes on special locations where he found incredible communities of Coastal Brown Bears and the famous Kodiak Bear. Now running his boat charter business he could take clients into these far out locations and drop anchor for several days in the sheltered lagoons where the bears were feeding off the running salmon. Our first encounter was in the gorgeous place he called 'Geographic'.

We took 'Single Star' through the narrow opening of Geographic.

Once inside the lagoon Lee prepares and launches the tender that will take us ashore and on to the river beds. Here we will walk quietly toward the feeding bears that have come to know him. We are carrying only camera equipment and Lee is unarmed save a small canister of pepper spray for the unknown situations that could arise. He has never had to use it. 

Lee guides us across the flowing river beds where the icy waters race beneath us. Carrying valuable camera gear can be precarious!

Lee spots an old familiar friend. 'Lydia' is a fully mature female Coastal Brown Bear weighing in at over 800lbs. He walks us to a spot on the riverbed where he knows she will pass us only feet away. Staying perfectly still and cameras ready we watch her approach. Sure enough she saunters past us with an occasional glance not worried about our presence. The following sequence allows us to share the experience of being so very close to an animal in the wild.

The next close encounter would be with a couple of younger, near fully mature Coastal Browns, more likely from the same litter now on their own to hunt. This sequence gave us an up-close look at their catch and the reluctance to share!

Before leaving Geographic we have another close encounter of a Coastal Brown with her three cubs that again walk within feet of us. Lee was surprised at how close she brought the youngsters to us.

Before saying goodbye to the area Lydia came once more to show us her magnificence.

Leaving the southern shoreline of mainland Alaska we travel over the channel to the north shore of Kodiak Island in search for the famous Kodiak Bear that can stand over 10 feet high when on two legs standing upright! We anchor Single Star in a quiet lagoon which Lee takes us around to find more creatures living here. Cupping two hands together he makes a special call and within seconds two Sea Lions surface right by our tender!

Lee guarantees that by morning there will Kodiak bears within 10ft of us! Sure enough we have the pleasure of watching a fully grown female, again near 800lbs in weight, with her two fairly mature cubs, still under her watch, catching fish in the quiet lagoon waters. We are within a mere few feet away!

The last days there in the lagoon of Kodiak Island we explore the deep forest where the bears roam through thick underbrush. We find a huge fallen tree and their bed-down place for a night. 

Juvenile Bald Eagles race across the calm water.

The sunsets are spectacular. Alaska for the adventurous is a must see!

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