Sunday, May 8, 2011
With the bear viewing season soon upon us we needed to go check out Hallo and Chinitna Bay. These are the areas we bring people to photograph and view the big bears up close. We were happy to see the bears out and about and digging clams. Early season, the clams are a major source for their diet. One of the reasons the bears are so tolerant of us being there is the abundant food supply in the area. There is always either the clams, the sedge grass that grows along the tidal areas, or the salmon. They have no reason to assume we would have food for them. Unlike the black bears I'm used to seeing in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, nobody here has fed them, or left anything laying around for them to associate us with food. Its an opportunity for us to see them up close and still feel safe. Augustine rises 4,134 feet from the sea ...
The flight out to see the bears is an incredible experience, and second only to seeing the bears. With good weather we can see three volcano's .. there's Augustine, Iliamna, and Redoubt. If the visibilty is really good, I'm told Denali can be seen, but 250 miles distant. I was able to get some good shots of Augustine on this trip. I had a couple photos earlier this week from the beach in Homer of Augustine with smoke, but at 75 miles distance it wasn't the greatest. The images here are pretty close, but no smoke.
It's hard to describe the flight from Halo to Chinitna, the whole distance is full of glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, and all the stuff that makes this place Alaska. I have a few of the images here from the flight, but a better way is to experience it first hand.
As we leave Chinitna Bay to cross the Cook Inlet we climb to 10,000 feet msl to make a safe crossing back to Homer.