Alaska – Wildlife at Every Turn
In September, Beth and I traveled through Alaska. The first part of the trip was in Katmai National Park on the Alaskan Peninsula to photograph the grizzly bears on the Brooks River. We stayed at the Brooks Camp in a cabin practically on the river. Access is by float plane since the Brooks Camp is on a remote lake. We were there for 4 days watching and photographing the grizzly bears as they fished for the sockeye salmon. The bears arrive at this time of the year for the salmon run. Its easy fishing and they have a feast. I took 1600 grizzly photos.
The second part started when we flew back to Anchorage where we rented a car and drove to Talkeetna (the model for the hit TV series Northern Exposure) for one nite. The next day we did a flightseeing tour where we flew around Denali Peak (aka McKinley). The weather was perfectly clear. There is only a 30% probability of seeing Denali. We lucked out. We landed on a glacier – very cool.
Then we drove to Denali National Park where we spent 3 nites in a cabin at the entrance. We did the grueling 11 hour round trip bus ride the next day to Wonder Lake – 80 miles on a dirt road. No public cars allowed. The place is highly regulated and controlled. But we did see plenty of wildlife and I got an incredible and lucky shot of a gray wolf as it popped its head above a bush to see what all of the commotion was about.
- The next day we drove the 15 miles stretch again and that’s where I got a second most incredible and lucky shot – a lynx and her cub!!! Lynx are solitary and secretive animals. They are an endangered species in Colorado. Before this sighting I had never seen one. This day I saw 3 of them and one with a cub close enough to photograph. Just amazing.
The third part of the trip was to Kaktovic. Beth flew back home from Fairbanks and I met a photo group. I had made reservation for a photo safari to photoshoot Polar Bears. We flew from Fairbanks to Barter Island on the north shore of Alaska, not far from Prudhoe Bay. We stayed in Kaktovic, an Inupiat village of 350 residents on the island. There, we photoshot polar bears for the next 3 days. Weather was poor, except for one day. There was no snow and no ice, temps in the 30’s, 40’s. The bears are landlocked until the ice pack reaches the island which is behind schedule. Then the bears travel out in search of seals. In the mean time they rely partly on the villagers for food. The villagers are allowed to hunt and harpoon (by hand) 3 bowhead whales. They butcher the whale, store the blubber and meat for the winter and dump the carcass on the bonepile at the end of the runway. The bears have a feast. This has been going on for centuries. Interesting relationship
That was our trip.
I took over 4000 images. The top 50 are posted to my website www.richardseeleyphotography.com