It has become a summer tradition … our annual trek to the magnificent wilderness of the US, known as Alaska, or what others might call the “last frontier”. To us, it is paradise and it seems that we can’t let a year go by without it. This year was no different, so off we went to spend 26 magnificent days … where my spirit would soar, my energies renew, and my heart would go a-flutter. 🙂 For the next month, I will try to share with my readers our memories from 2013.
This year, our adventure was a very different one. For one thing, we had more inclement weather (i.e. very drizzly and overcast, especially in the beginning) and lots of concentrated wildlife sightings, with lots of nothing in between. Let me start with our time on the Kenai, specifically our 3rd and 4th days staying at the Russian River in Cooper Landing… one of the hot spots for brown bears … at least while the salmon is running.
Our first morning at the campground, we ventured down to the boardwalk, in search of bears. Wasn’t long before we got our first sighting. See the fisherman were leaving, warning us of the bear ahead, so off we went for some bear photography.
We observed it from a respectable distance, often making eye contact with this magnificent creature. Before long, it decided to head back to the river, so up the boardwalk it went, as we backed off accordingly. It took a leisurely stroll to the next stair access to the river.
The river was a virtual “floating buffet line” of salmon, as they made their way upstream in their ultimate last deed before becoming part of the circle of life. Problem for the bear was simply which one to grab.
Ultimately, the chase begins….
Once a salmon is successfully caught by the bear, it’s quite a thrill to watch them as they efficiently and skillfully devour it, in a very targeted approach.
Of course, the seagulls are always hanging around to dutifully pick up any scraps left behind by the bears.
Even when the bears aren’t chasing salmon in the river, they are always a thrill for us to observe them as they go about their daily ritual. Such activities include getting around in the slippery river rocks and over, on and around the trees.
The morning hours on the Russian River are especially rewarding, even if the bears haven’t arrive yet. Tom & I don our hip waders and venture out into the river alongside the fishermen. Not once have we thrown out a line to catch anything, though Tom has been known to catch a few with his bare hands (catch & release, of course).
Over the years, I feel like we’ve gotten to know some of the local bears. This year there were 2 sub-adult bears hanging out together quite often. After looking at some shots from last years adventure, I can’t help but feel that these are actually the 2 yearling cubs we photographed last year, but without their mom. See, the bears usually keep them for 2 years, then kick them out to fend on their own.
It’s fun to see how good of fishermen they have become … yes, mom taught them well. 🙂
Further down the river, past the confluence, is the Kenai River, which is world renowned for its “combat fishing” – standing shoulder to shoulder, while fishing lines are being tangled, patience wanes, and tempers flare. Of course, late August is not peak time for salmon fishing for the humans … but for the bears, it’s like a little bit of heaven.
Signing off for now … be sure to check back next week and beyond for more posts covering our 2013 Alaskan Adventure. Hope that you enjoy.