Alaska – Camping with the Bears for a week
As I said yesterday, today’s post is about how we camped for the week in the Hallo Bay environment. I figured I would start with this photo of a bear basically roaming through our camp area to give you an idea of things that we needed to be aware of. There is a longer story behind this bear’s “visit” but I think I’ll cover that in more detail (and with more bear photos) tomorrow.
We started the last leg of our journey to Hallo Bay from Homer Alaska after spending a few days with friends. The Bay is located in the Katmai region of Alaska which is part of the Alaska Penninsula. The airplane was a single engined Cessna 206 equipped with Tundra tires which can land on a variety of unprepared airfields including the Beach at Hallo Bay. We flew past several volcanos on the way to camp and also had some great vistas like this one with glaciers melting into their own lakes.
After a smooth landing we carried our gear to the camp that our guide had prepared about 50 yards off the beach. It had sleeping quarters for 4 guests plus the guide and his daughter who looked after our needs and took care of the camp while we were gone each day. Our tent had a large vestibule for storing gear and we actually had cots and sleeping bags for our beds. The camp also had a large tent with table and chairs and cooking facilities for our mess area. We spent quite a lot of time in there together when the weather was just too bad to go out in (the bears aren’t very active in really bad weather either). Another notable feature of the camp was a small outhouse tent especially for our 3 female campers. Here’s a photo of our camp – notice the beware of dog sign posted to scare the bears away! Kidding aside, the string that surrounds the camp is actually an electrified fence – it certainly won’t stop a marauding bear but it might deter them if they are just wandering past. The other notable feature of the camp area was that there was an active bear path just in front of our communal tent – during our stay, the bears tended to veer around the camp area by about 10 yards off that path. OBTW – the pyramid shaped tent in the background was occupied by the only other longer term visitor to South Hallo Bay – an Aussie by the name of Jonathan that was staying in the area for pretty much the entire summer.
All of our basic needs were taken care of – the tents were very sturdy and withstood some really terrible weather, the food was good (real eggs each morning, a packed lunch in the field, and a meat course every night for dinner), and easy access to the meadows and beach for animal watching. All in all, we were as comfortable as you could be in a wilderness camping environment. We were, of course, very mindful of keeping our food away from the animals, and of not harming anything in this very verdant environment.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you a little story about an exciting bear encounter literally “in” our camp……