Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bear Viewing in Lake Clark NP, Alaska - Part 1: June 30

We caught a tiny 4-seater plane from Kenai to Lake Clark National Park, across the Cook Inlet. We spent today up close and personal with bears in the Chinitna Bay. Seventy-five miles from the nearest road (only accessibly by boat or plane), our plane had to land on the pebbly beach. As we were flying in we crossed over a large meadow adjacent to the lodge where our tour began. From our vantage point above we could make out several dozen large brown bears. Some were sitting still eating grass while others were running around the meadow creating trails in the grass that appeared to us as geometric patterns. Even from several hundred feet in the air it was clear that these powerful creatures could run with authority far faster than any human. Upon landing we were met by our "grizzled" bear guide. We knew he meant business when he pulled up in a beat-up truck with a bullet hole in the windshield, a massive handgun strapped to his side, and a loaded shotgun sitting in his passenger seat. Fire power was a necessity as there were over a hundred gigantic brown bears within a mile radius of where we landed. In fact, only minutes earlier one had wandered along the stretch of sand where we were standing. Over the course of the next 7 hours we were lucky enough to witness dozens of bears up close in their natural habitat. This included a mom and two cubs digging for clams just off-shore from where we were situated on the beach (see photo above).


Coastal Tides Photography said...

YIKES! Did the bears pay any attention to you?

Jenny and Gabe Bowne said...

They would sort of look up, sniff the air, and then go back to what they were doing. So luckily they didn't seem to care that we were there.