My stay at Valdez was timed with the salmon run and the first night I was there they were in the weir with the seal lions catching them. As the days went and the run got stronger the sheer number of fish was amazing. Instead of filling maybe 1/3 of the area in front of the weir they totally filled it and you could look outside it and see them.
There were also seals and sea otters in the area but none of them came into the weirs and they seemed to stay away from the sea lions. The sea gulls were everywhere, trying to grab bits of fish.
Every day started out foggy but then it burned off by around lunch time. Early one evening I headed back up the highway to see if the light would be right on Bridal Veil Falls, sure enough it was and I even saw a rainbow in the falls.
I found a good camping spot (no hookups) right across the road from the water and a very short drive to the weir. I made a few trips a day, sort of timed by the tides. High tide the sea lions would come in very close for the salmon, low tide I went further down the road to the large mud flats. That’s where the eagles hang out for the scraps.
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The ravens entertained us regularly, weren’t shy and were very vocal. They’re quite the characters!
Jaws was in action nearly every day and is fattening up nicely (when I first started going to the viewing platform he was rather boney). I’ve noticed that the 2 sows seem to have shed their last year’s coats and both are nice and dark while the 2 boars still have lots of their old coat. Now we can see some of the dark hair and in time they will be dark and handsome. Too late for me, though.
Last Thursday evening while I was at the end of the platform (everyone else had moved the other direction to follow a bear) a little bat flew around and hovered nearby. It didn’t seem put off by me and another lady so when he landed on the railing to enjoy a bug I grabbed my camera. It was quite accommodating and it made for a rare treat to photograph this critter.
I left Hyder at lunchtime today (Aug. 15) and am in Smithers, on my way to Jasper. I met so many wonderfully friendly people while spending the hours at the bear viewing platform. Many have been going there for years, and others were newbies like me. Watching the bears was one common interest, with others the interest in wildlife photography gave us an added bond. Don’t know when if ever I’ll get back there but it sure would be fun!
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While in Valdez a couple of people I met suggested i go along the Denali Hwy. a bit, very scenic, etc. Since I was not pressed for time I decided to do just that so I went to Paxson and headed west on it for 21 miles to Tangle Lake BLM campground. Very different area than any other I’d seen in AK. Wide open spaces with snow capped mountains and glaciers in the distance. This first image will give you some idea of the country there. Vast spaces with very low shrubs, no trees, many small lakes (in the indents left from ice age glaciers). The campground was nice, very basic but neat and clean, dry camping in the wide open spaces. The road past the campground is gravel and goes over 100 miles west to connect to Parks Hwy (N/S) near Denali. I drove about 25 miles on the gravel and the country was the same, wide open spaces.
From there I headed south to Hyder, AK. To get there I went back to the Alaska Highway, stopping 3 times along the way for the night. The third night of the trip I was on the Cassier Hwy and stopped at Jade City (free parking lot stop), where I bought some mementoes of the trip).On the way into Stewart/Hyder I passed a couple of glaciers. Arrived in Hyder, AK, Sunday afternoon and secured a camp site for 8 nights. Hyder is well known to some because it is the site of a boardwalk along the Fish River where bear viewing is possible. Salmon are running and I am hoping to capture some special images. The boardwalk is in Tongass NF and there are rangers on hand while it is open, 6 am to 10 pm. My Sr. Pass gets me in free and I plan on making good use of it.
3 miles down the road from the site is the Run A Muck campground, it is really quite nice and very reasonable rates for full hookups (and senior discount, too).
After getting the trailer unhitched and hooked up, feeding and walking the dogs, I headed over to the viewing area and was able to see a black bear sow with her cub. She sent the cub up a tree and came back to the river’s edge to scrounge a dead fish which she then ate (after dragging another one back into the brush).
I’l be returning to the viewing area a couple of times a day for the next few days and hope to post more images soon.
Valdez is nestled in amongst tall mountains with snow and glaciers on them. Each direction has a magnificent view.
Last evening I went back to near the hatchery to see what I could see and the young brown bear (they seem to be called brown bears instead of grizzlies when on the coast) was fishing again.One of the sea otters was close enough for me to photograph and it was caught “red pawed” with a fisherman’s bait fish, still on the hook with the leader attached.
Went to the waterfalls and used a filter on the lens with striking effect. Will have to try it again.
Then back to the hatchery road where I saw a black bear fishing in a stream.
Some down time with the dogs now but I’ll be headed out this evening. Low tide is later each day which means the bears may be out a bit later, but who knows? Today was beautiful, sunny and warm. I may need the AC soon since I’ve gotten used to it being so much cooler mid 70s in the trailer seems way too warm.
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