Alaska - Walking with Bears at Silver Salmon Creek. July 2012

07th January 2013
The airstrip at Silver Salmon Creek (Lake Clark National Park) is the beach at low tide with the main danger being bears! The flight in is by very small single engine aircraft and as usual it was raining and we flew very low to keep beneath the clouds for safe visability. Silver Salmon Lodge is typical Alaskan wilderness style - beautiful log cabins and very large fires - the outside temperature ranged between 1 and 10 degrees with constant rain every day - Alaskan summer! Consequently the pastures were vibrant green with masses of wild flowers everywhere including Artic Lupines and Irises!

The Alaskan Brown Bears are the coastal form of the Grizzley Bear - at Silver Salmon Creek they were wild but had got accustomed to people being around. The Bears had right of way and after one look at their teeth and shear size we treated them with a great deal of respect! At low tide the bears wander out onto the mudflats looking for clams - this was a task usually performed by the females (the males preferring not to get their paws muddy!). The clams were about the size of an Aussie Pippy - the bears would smell out the clam and then dig often going deep down to about armpit depth and coming up with a clam - they would then deftly swipe open the clam with a single stroke of their amazing claws and then eat! The clam diet was balanced by pasture grazing during incoming tides. In the Autumn, Salmon would run up Silver Salmon Creek and bears would bulk up on the rich protein ready for the coming winter. The salmon were not running during our visit but we were priviliged to watch them clamming and grazing in the abundant pastures. We got to recognise an experienced old male bear, whom we nicknamed "Scarface". He was a patient and fascinating character whom dominated most of our photographs - my favourite being "Scarface" in Lupines. The Tour was organised by Darran, Julia and Pearce Leal of World Photographic Adventures, an Australian based photographic Tour company (see "Link" page)and was brilliant in all aspects!