To my great fortune, I was asked if I wanted to fill the fifth remaining seat on an adventure of a lifetime to Halo Bay. Of course, I said yes! It was not only a chance to take a little break from cooking, it was a great opportunity to spend time with four of our very lovely guests: Dave and Ruthie Hoff, Peggy Jones, Barbara Green as well as Chris Klosterman our competent pilot and guide for the day.
On the way to Halo Bay, we flew over stunning aqua green waters of the Naknek lake. We also flew through the most spectacular Aleutian Mountain range with its ragged peaks, volcanoes as well as a few crystal blue glaciers. My jaw dropped as I tried to take in this beautiful scenery. I thought to myself, "Even if we don't see a single bear at Halo Bay, this flight alone is well worth the journey!"
As we approached our destination, I was looking around for an airstrip. Down below I saw the shoreline of Halo Bay scattered with drift wood and thought to myself, "I guess we are going to land on that beach." With incredible ease our pilot Chris did in fact gently land his Beaver right there on the beach, which proved a most convenient landing strip.
Chris led the way as we walked along the beach. He gave us some important ground rules for the day. For the best experience we needed to stick together, walk slowly, and talk softly so as to not disturb the bears. In a distance we saw two bears searching for clams, as the sockeye salmon run hasn't started yet so the bears are biding their time digging for clams until the salmon arrive.
Then to our amazement we saw a rather large boar in hot pursuit of a sow right on the beach. The 2 bears approached a group of photographers as as they got close to the photographers, they split up to walk on either side of them. The photographers sat there huddled together waiting for them to pass by. I thought, "Wow that's a little too close for comfort!" Slowly the bears passed the paparazzi and moved closer to our group. The bears then took a right turn to meander across the wide open fields of green where they began to graze on sedge meadows close to the coast.
With the Aleutian mountains surrounding us and the plush green fields in front of us, this was the most serene and peaceful setting for bears that I have ever seen. My only experience of bears had been seeing them chasing sockeye salmon at our lodge, or watching as the bears pluck salmon out of the air while the fish jump over the waterfalls at Brooks Falls. I have also seen bears eating berries on the surrounding hillsides and tundra at our lodge, but watching them graze in wide open fields was a whole new experience altogether! It was fascinating!!
We spent a couple hours walking through the fields, taking lots of great photos of these magnificent bears.
Dave and Ruthie, both in their 80's, were thrilled to be so up close and personal with the bears!
It was obvious the bears were not bothered in the least to have an audience watching their every move. What an amazing experience!
The big boar in the background then sprawled out on the ground and decided to have an afternoon nap.
The following week we had another group of guests that heard what a fantastic trip we had. They wanted to go as well. Here are some more photos that were taken on the second trip to Halo Bay. This time Wayne and my daughter Megan got to go as well.
We have been having some of the most amazing weather this June. Blue bird skies and lots of sunshine. It made for another great flight across the mountains to the coast. This time the group encountered a number of sows with cubs. Here you can see some photos of one big mama with her tiny 3 spring cubs. They were so cute.
It's hard to believe that you can be in the wild, in such close proximity to these apex predators, with no cages or fences, and get to just sit for hours and watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitat doing what they have done for millennia, ignoring us as if we were not even there!
How many people do you know that get to experience something so special as this and even be able to pose with the bears in the background to prove you've "been there and done that"! :)
On the way back to where the plane was parked we got so see just how impressive these giants are when we came upon a huge set of paw prints in the wet mud.
On the flight back to ATA Lodge, we got to witness the sheer beauty of the Katmai National Park from a bird's eye perspective again on the flight "home".
We truly do have the most amazing "backyard" I can think of anywhere on the planet!
Back at the lodge on last group photo was taken. The smiles tell the story of the remarkable time that was had by all! And around the table at dinner, stories were told and retold to those who hadn't gone together while showing pictures that were taken while there!
If you are looking for something "out of the ordinary" to add to your bucket list, then we invite you to come stay at ATA Lodge and let us help you plan your Alaskan Adventure of a lifetime! Make you next adventure an Alaska Trophy Adventure Lodge one!
Find out more about ATA Lodge on our website at www.atalodge.com