Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

McNeil River Day 2

We head back to Tennessee in a few nights. We are looking forward to having Christmas with family and friends there. So here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. To finish out the blog for the year, here is another day from Greg's summer bear adventure. 
We left for the falls about 9:30 a.m. Today only 4 of our group, plus the guide, made the trip. The morning was a lot cooler which made it much more pleasant. My missing bag arrived last night so today I was armed with my sunscreen, video camera, and other essentials. 
We still split into groups when we arrived at the falls. With 2 of us going to the lower viewing area and the other 2 remaining on the upper viewing area with the guide. On the bottom, where I was, a folding chair on either side of us served as a barrier to the bears. 
Again today the longer we stayed, the more bears arrived at the falls. Trying to film them proved to be more difficult than I had counted on. As there was something going on all around me. It was hard to concentrate on just one spot.
This being the case, I mostly just snapped away with the digital camera.
 By the time we left, there were 26 bears at the falls at one time. 
 The day was also filled with very close encounters. One bear, after catching a salmon, ran up to within 4-5 feet of me before noticing that I was there. Upon seeing me, he quickly veered off and took another route.
 Watching these bears was so exciting and spellbinding, that before I knew it, the time was 8 p.m. and time to head back to camp. We were lucky again to have the high tide on our side and the boat picked us up after our 2+ mile walk and took us back to camp.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our long Thanksgiving weekend

We both have enjoyed our 4 day Thanksgiving weekend! Greg started a new job with BLM as a land law examiner!  He was able to take the Friday after Thanksgiving off for the first time in several years. We had a great Thanksgiving with our friends, Doris and Wes. They treated us to a fantastic dinner and then we spent the rest of the evening playing games and having a good time. We didn't do much at all on Friday.
Saturday morning, we woke up to new snow for the first time in several weeks.
We probably got around 3 inches of fresh snow and the ground was fresh and white as it should be at the end of November.
The temperatures have been pretty nice as far as it goes.
Our highs have been in the mid 20s and low 30s. Saturday afternoon we got out to enjoy a walk in the beautiful snow.
 I got out to shop for Small Business Saturday and met a friend for a quick snack and chat.

Walking back home after dark, I did notice how much brighter the snow makes everything appear at night. That's about it for now. More summer bear pictures soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Greg's Summer Bear Adventure End of Day 1 McNeil River

This first afternoon at the falls, turned off very warm.

 Greg ended up with a pretty bad sunburn. The bag containing his sunscreen and other important items was accidentally loaded back on the float plane when it left last night.
Even the bears seemed to take notice and when they weren't actually fishing,
 many of them just laid in the cool waters of McNeil River.
 The later and later it got, the more bears arrived at the falls. By the time we left around 8 p.m., there were 29 bears gathered at the falls.
It was truly unbelievable.
 I can only imagine how awed they must have all been when their record of 74 bears at one time was set a few years ago.
Our trip to and from the falls was tide dependent. Tonight, however, we only had to hike about halfway back as the high tide allowed a boat to pick us up and return us to camp. It was quite an amazing day!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

More Day 1 from Greg's Adventure at McNeil River

By about midday several of the bears, full of fish, picked out a good spot to relax. While they rested, several more bears made their way to the falls and took over their fishing spots.
 This bear decided to take a break from the action.
 And again, another big male stepped in to claim his fishing spot.
 There were about as many different fishing techniques as there were bears. Some stood and waited in the same spot sometimes for up to half an hour before getting a meal. Others were much more active and chased  the fish they spotted in the river. This bear was more of a diver!
 Some preferred to stand in the currents and swat away!
 This big fella had eaten all he wanted for a bit and had to take a nap. As you can tell, he had his fishing technique down to an art. Judging by his size, well over 1,000 pounds, I don't think he missed many opportunities.
 All throughout the day, more and more new bears made their way to the falls.
 Big bears, like these, claimed some of the prime salmon spots in the river.
 This chocolate bear was one of the most prolific salmon catchers! During the whole four day adventure, he kept up the pace. Each day I could see him catching many fish in his chosen spot at the big rocks down from the falls.
 I don't know if this bear was puzzled or just enjoying a cool bath on this warm day.
More and more of the first bears in the waters that morning, the successful ones anyway, found a quiet place to rest.
More bear pictures later.
For now, we had our first snowfall of the season. Last Sunday night, October 19th, we got about three inches of snow downtown. Others on the hillside reported getting over 9 inches of fresh snow. Thank goodness the studded snow tires were put on the car this week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anniversary Trip 2014 comes to an end

We awoke Sunday morning to another overcast and cool day.

 We decided to just relax and take it easy.
Greg did attempt to fish for awhile. Wind, rain, cold, and staying tangled up in the seaweed soon proved too much and he gave up after about an hour.

 By the way, the fish we caught yesterday has been tentatively identified as an Irish Lord, not a lingcod. After Greg warmed up and showered, we had dinner at the Chart Room.
On Monday morning what do you know? It is bright and mostly sunny! It was also a bit warmer.
 It was a nice sendoff for our drive home. On the way home we did notice a lot of fresh snow on the mountains.
There was even snow along the roadside in several locations.

 We stopped beside the Kenai River for a picnic lunch of leftovers.

 We made several other stops including the overlook for this volcano.
 You can see a glacier far back in the mountains in these photos.

Rolling into Anchorage about 5:30, we made it home for dinner. We don't have any other trips planned until Christmas in Tennessee. Guess Greg will get to blog with more of his bear adventure pictures until then!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Anniversary Trip 2014

We left home around 5:00 Friday afternoon for our trip down to Homer. The weather forecasters had predicted snow tonight. Luckily, we never ran into any snow on our drive but we did notice fresh snow on the mountains along the way. However, we did encounter a big moose in Soldotna. This huge animal brought traffic to a stop in a busy intersection as it walked calmly across the road. We also narrowly avoided hitting a few big porcupines as they waddled across the road. After making a few stops for food and bait, we made it into Homer around 11:30. Saturday we went to the Farmers' Market and ate lunch in town. After a relaxing afternoon, it was time to get down to business. Fishing business.

 It was quite cold and windy on Kachemak Bay as we cast our lines into the water.
 I had several hits but could not reel one in.
Greg finally managed to catch a fish that weighed about 4 pounds.

 We think this is a lingcod.
 Greg will have to research and find out. We fished until Greg lost feeling in both hands from the cold and wet conditions. He finally had to give it up and call it a night.