with over 20 years in this amazing place. it's never dull. i hope to enjoy years of exploration here.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
back from Hallo Bay
still have many photo's to look through so i'll have to start on the actual bears more on the next installment. these are mostly from the smaller camera since i was starting to run lower on batteries and card space for the other one. above was my sweet baby bear photo.
we actually had an extra day out there since we were weathered in due to westward winds. the plane, an Islander, lands on a beach which as beaches go is not level but slopes up to the shore. if the winds are coming from the land across the beach in that way, it could easily flip the plane since the shore side wing will be elevated due to the slope of the beach. not sure if that made sense or not but we had beautiful sunny skies, but wind. the next day we had mixed cloudy skies but no wind.
got to Homer and on the way down we called the Hallo Bay office. we were told to be there at 0600. i really wish we would have called them since i think our flight actually left after 2 pm. again the wind. we are lucky the air service didn't just cancel. i guess it's a new air service they are contracted with this year and i don't know, it just seemed odd on Monday that they got a weather check at 2pm and then just cancelled. in Alaska we have sunshine for hours and the winds did die down later. they do also have tides to contend with when landing on a beach i know...it happens sometimes.
these are from the flight back.
in the end, we actually had a beautiful day that last day. great bear sightings and all so i will not complain. i was bummed that day just because it's stressful leaving young pups behind and i really just didn't want to inconvenience anyone more than needed. they used the satellite phone to call the office and the folks at the office were able to get a hold of my pet sitters to ask them to care for the pets for longer.
we had checked out of our hotel before 6 am so that we could make the early flight. we were on delay all day but didn't dare get too far from the office for too long. when those pilots are ready to leave they don't want to be kept waiting. we slipped away for breakfast on the spit...which was good. then we watched part of the Disney movie, Bears, and dozed on the couches in the office. that movie was apparently filmed like 80% out there at Hallo Bay.
at some point we figured out that the other folks going out to Hallo Bay with us were chilling outside their rented camper. trapped as we were. they were from Switzerland...so they had no US cell phone to easily be able to be rung. Rolf didn't speak English but his wife, Irene did speak quite well. we were able to get her to understand we had cell phones and that they could come with us to the beach at least rather than being in a parking lot.
V and I walked the beach, they mostly sat and enjoyed. V just gave them her cell phone to use and i texted them. it all worked out. they ended up being super nice folks. it didn't matter that Rolf was unable to converse more than a few words here and there. we all found ways to communicate and laugh. Irene told us Rolf had Polio as a child and was a bit anxious about the trip as he has a continued limp and didn't want to slow anyone down.
v and i are not in any hurry so i think as they found this out their concerns were allayed and we all just relaxed, laughed and had fun. great folks.
the plane, an Islander, was actually pretty huge. we had more leg room than i'd ever had in a flight. they never weighed or measured us or any of our stuff. we were totally fine to carry our little bag with us...not just a single camera. turns out the office girl who was responding to my emails was super new and probably was trying to do and say the right stuff. she then passed it along to the owner, who as it turns out is probably pretty out of touch with the day to day operations.
the guides, Lance and Jerry, looked pretty shocked at our extra food items we'd brought in fear of the meals we'd be fed...in the end we all had a great laugh that night about the crazy email exchanges we'd had with Hannah and Clint.
this is Roy, our pilot both ways. he's flown in Alaska for probably close to 40 years. we were in good hands. ultimately we just wanted a fun and safe trip. we got that.
we settled into our comfy canvas tent rooms and then headed out looking for bears. this time of year the place isn't really crawling with bears. they are waiting for the salmon run to happen. in the mean time the bears will munch on sedge grasses and clams and whatever else they can find to tide them over.
that day some biologists had actually been out and had darted a female bear to alter her collar and take samples. we saw her and her very drunk looking footprints. i guess she usually hangs with her brother so they were hoping she'd get back together. above is Jerry testing out the river on our last day there. below is Rolf and Irene in the wood pile
Rolf did great, he had his two trekking poles, never complained and i never felt like he slowed us down at all. i think she was a bit anxious when he decided to climb around the logs, but it proved to be no obstacle at all for him.
there were some boggy bits to get through. V took a dunk in the mud once, but she did so gracefully and manged to not get in the worst of it. by the last day i think we were all done with rubber boots. mostly the trails we took we game trails made by the bears and wolves in the area.
we put on a lot of miles i think. my step counter gave me nearly 30,000 steps one day and over 25,000 steps another. the other days were well over 15,000 steps each. we fell into our cots each night very sleepy. the cots were pretty comfy. they had bags with liners. there was also a canvas tent outhouse/shower with a port-a-potty so that had all been figured out. i used the shower the day we got the word we weren't leaving..my conselation prize was a warm shower. it was kerosene.
Jerry and Lance cooked us up decent meals. we still aren't sure if they avoided mountain house meals after hearing our tales of email exchanges, but i suspect since they eat the food as well, they have just learned to try and minimize the use and if used to dress it up with other ingredients. food was good overall i'd say. i was never hungry. our added food brought smiles i think..variety is always good. they were pretty excited when i pulled out the stick of cheese. our new friends were also excited when we pulled out the little box of wine too. they hadn't seen those before. we introduced them to some new food items. mac and cheese was a hit, red vines, not, spicy nuts that v brought, a hit...they weren't too keen on peanut butter but excited to discover the guides had nutella.
after we saw the female bear we headed to the other meadow and watched her brother for a bit. next day we hit the meadow a few times, eventually we also cruised over to the river. some salmon were starting to make their way up the river. we were all excited and happy to watch whatever was out there and just enjoy the scenery.
pups were super happy to see me. walked with Lena today. she helped me get the high energy pups mellowed out a bit. it was in the 70's here which is boiling for Alaska. can't explain that but it really feels more like 90 for us...
after that i actually left them loose in the house and left to run some errands. i put chairs up to make getting into the kitchen less easy. they were fine when i returned as was the house and all. so that was great. gotta test the pups out. it is looking like they have their adult teeth more than not.
we got to know the area around us pretty well out there. it's really pretty and we were all happy to have bear views with that scenery around. we were also lucky to have just the 4 of us and the 2 guides out there the entire time. Brooks falls would be a fun trip to take as well, perhaps one day but they get like 300 people there/day so not the lovely peaceful/intimate trek this was.
the guides really did take lovely care of us. Lance even loaned V his keens.
they got a kick out of the bear viewing boot camp element of the email exchange and it became the running joke of the week.
the sand really does slow down a plane fast. our flights were both great. beautiful views.
on the way back Rolf got to ride in the co-pilot seat. that is Lance peeking in to say good bye.
i think Rolf really enjoyed that flight back. V and i were both of the mind...hey these guys came all the way from Switzerland..he really should ride up front! :-) they were just happy to see their first brown bears in the wild and we were just happy to see bears and everything else we could see.
they usually skipped our late night walks to go to bed early. on one late walk we heard the howl of a wolf as it was carried by the wind. Jerry howled back and then the wolf answered. as we headed back to camp we saw the wolf running towards our camp.
the beaches were all covered with bear tracks and wolf tracks, otter and fox tracks, even bald eagle tracks. the river and sea were showing signs of the return of the salmon. the bears were wandering over there more and more, the gull numbers and bald eagle numbers were up....
these below and above are the sedge meadows that we frequented. we also walked way out on the tide zone...at low tide it went for miles. we followed another collared female far out and watched her dig for clams, catch soles and eat barnacles. it was so beautiful out there.
as we sat for lunch a wolf ran far off across the tide zone we'd just been out on.
worried about Pogi, my orange polydactyl cat. he's such a great cat. i'd noticed he was losing weight since the puppies arrived, but when i got home, he really just felt think and suddenly looked old. i made an appointment to get him checked out tomorrow. i also go back to work tomorrow...and while i was off the grid we were supposed to do our schedules. my friend did hers then was trying to get mine in but the dates were all taken already...hopefully, they will help me get a decent schedule. this on line scheduling really sucks honestly. no seniority, stressful...not impressed.
we had quite a few camp drive by's by bears...the guides checked often for bears and would shout "bear on the beach" we'd all get settled in the sand on the bank by camp and just sit and watch them pass by. most of them paid us little attention. one baby bear was curious though and both times the little guy headed right for us. the second time we were all sitting on a log and he got within 15 feet. the guides were letting him know to back up and finally his mama came over and made some popping/grunting noises and he turned around and followed her. too cute. great pictures for everyone i'm sure though.
we had one day with lite rain. otherwise sun and a wee bit of wind.
passed a few glaciers coming and going.
and pretty high mountain glacier fed lakes.
caught the sunset around midnight that last night.
this is our little camp with bear fencing around it. they electrified it at night or if we all left the area or...as happened one day. a bear decided to go around the camp in the grass.
thought these came out nice of the camp.
well, i best get to bed. the pups wake me up early.
thankful for: A. safe flights to/from and a lovely trip B. all the wonderful folks in the world. it helps you to realize that the awful ones that always seem to turn up on the news for their terrible acts are not the majority C. all the police, who come to work each day and risk their lives to try to keep our cities safe. they are brave and kind overall...there is always a few bad folks in any and every area of life...you can't judge an entire profession from the few though...i'm very grateful for what they do and how they do it. my heart goes out to those who lost their lives in Dallas and to their families and the communities they served...pointless loss. very upsetting. we were just hearing a bit as we left. i'm not even really sure what happened after. we were out of range of news and that may be a blessing. it is a blessing.
have lived in alaska since 1995, lived in ketchikan for 6 years and here in anchorage since 2001. it's a wonderful place and i enjoy getting out nearly daily for a walk/hike/stroll or ramble. enjoy the pics