The zen of watching bears. A Conversation with Northwest Navigation
I spent some time chatting about bears and the Pack Creek experience with our friends at Northwest Navigation Co. (Home of the M/V David B).
We team up with them for a few trips each year. Here we talk about the zen of wildlife watching and more. Hope you enjoy!
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AN AMAZING ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE. In mid August my wife and I took our highly anticipated float plane trip from Juneau to Admiralty island to hopefully experience wild bears up close. Our guide for this trip was Hanna. She was very... read moreIn mid August my wife and I took our highly anticipated float plane trip from Juneau to Admiralty island to hopefully experience wild bears up close. Our guide for this trip was Hanna. She was very knowledgeable and and reassuring.
WOW. Was good fortune on our side. When we arrived on the island and headed towards our viewing area there was already one large female bear there with two cubs. The mother bear was catching salmon in the nearby steam and then her and her cubs would feast on the fish. We were about 75 meters from these bears.
Within five minutes we spotted another large female bear and two cubs running through the grass heading almost directly towards us. As we remained still and quiet at our viewing place these new arrivals trotted along and came to within about 25-30 meters from us. As they crossed directly in front of us the two cubs stopped and each stood up for a few seconds and then in unison they moved off with their mother where she also started catching salmon. To have these magnificent animals fishing and lounging around so close to us was totally amazing. We watched these six bear for well over an hour or so. Later several other individual bears appeared coming down the stream towards us as they in turn were catching salmon.
Later we walked several kilometers inland to a viewing tower. Although no bears were visible from that location we did hear the loud sound of a bear growling in the woods as we started that walk. We eventually returned to our initial viewing area and there were still a mother and two cubs nearby. It was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience that will stay with us forever. The video footage of the bear and cubs running in towards us and then standing close by is amazing.
This was the highlight of our trip through Alaska, the Rocky Mountains and New York.
Yes it is expensive but well worth it. read less
The Land of the Bears Although the flight was slightly delayed due to technical difficulties with the float plane, the trip length was extended so we did not feel that we had lost out. We were met at the airport by Bjorn who took us... read moreAlthough the flight was slightly delayed due to technical difficulties with the float plane, the trip length was extended so we did not feel that we had lost out. We were met at the airport by Bjorn who took us through the itinerary and gave us insight into the location and wider bear knowledge. After being fitted with waders we set off and we’re greeted by the very efficient pilot who took us through the safety regulation; thanks to Bjorn for the thoughtful giving out of earplugs to guard extreme inflight noise.
After a short flight, and without even realising we’d hit the water, the ranger was the to greet us. Bjorn quickly set up the spotter and immediately started pointing out distant bears. After taking advantage of the wild toilet arrangements we set off to our first viewing location. Bjorn was extremely careful to ‘manage’ us and our safety with his very pleasant but informed manner. There was plenty of bear action to observe. Bjorn’s and the ranger’s personal knowledge of the individual bears and their history only added to the enjoyment Andy intimacy of the encounters.
After a while, we made our way up the viewing platform where Bjorn again demonstrated his knowledge of natural history along the route, taking care to walk at the right pace. It was disappointing to only see one bear (behind the tree) and one in the distance once at the platform but we understand this is a wilderness setting. This did not detract from our overall enjoyment of the day and we cannot rate the overall arrangements and specifically Bjorn. His attention to our safety, wellbeing and welfare in his relaxed and humbled manner made us feel completely at ease and allowed us to totally enjoy the experience. I could not recommend Pack Creek Tours and Bjorn highly enough and anyone wishing to go would do well to ensure that they are accompanied by an experienced guide. read less