Aussie Eileen's Adventure with Kodiak Treks
A float plane flew my husband, Keith, and I from the town of Kodiak to the other side of the island wilderness to Uyak Bay to stay at Harry's & Brigid's rustic lodgings. The scenery from the plane was beautiful and a wonderful start to the 3 days we were to spend with them observing wildlife and learning about Alaska's flora & fauna.
Harry & Brigid were our expert bear guides, Harry is a qualified Biologist and Brigid is a qualified Linguist with years of experience interacting with bears between them.
After settling into our cabin, Harry suggested a ride in his boat to go spotting wildlife on the water in the bay. We saw sea otters, seals, river otters and plenty of birds, especially the bald eagles. After a few hours we returned to base where upon Brigid led us on a short hike up the hillside where she then went through the safety instructions on how we were to behave while in bear country while trekking with them, clarifying why it was necessary and making sure we were safe.
Brigid ensured that we had layered, waterproof clothing and suggested we wear rubber boots as we could experience “4 seasons in one day” and the vegetation varied. Wearing waterproof pants and rubber boots was the go and very essential! Upon our return the welcome surprise of a sauna hut to use on our weary bones awaited us before dinner.
Dinner itself was outstanding, deer stew with freshly baked bread with a delicious dessert to follow. Brigid is a whiz in the kitchen and Harry is the assistant in the household.
The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, we set off on our trek, first down to the Bay by boat for a distance, and then we set down on a pebble beach and unpacked all of our camping gear. We set up our bush camp on the hill and then off we went on foot to spend a full day seeking out bears. We walked along the pebble beach, tramped through boggy tall grasses near the river/creek areas, climbed over logs, hid behind trees and laid down on the ground to avoid bears seeing us.
What a day! We observed numerous bears along the water ways fishing for salmon, fattening up on food before the winter sets in. Seeing a mother with her baby was a real highlight. Back ‘home’ at the camp site we sat around the camp fire exchanging stories and talking about our wonderful day. Off to sleep around 2200 hrs on our comfortable camp beds where we listened to the rain fall overnight.
We woke about 0730 hrs where we set about packing up our campsite and placing the gear into the boat after breakfast around the fire. The second day of the adventure just got better as we trekked off to explore the wilderness again.
We trekked from 0900 - 1800 hrs, seeing multiple bears including a mother with 2 cubs, also white tailed deer, a fox and beaver lodges. Lunch reminded me of home with a 'door stopper' sandwich and chips and chocolate. It was another spectacular day seeing each different bear interactions and activities.
I must say that by the last day of our trek, my body (especially my legs) were a little tired and needed rejuvenation with a sauna. We returned to our boat about 1830 hrs bound for our cabin home.
Brigid once again excelled herself with her culinary delights - a Mexican dinner which was delightful. The evening was topped off with a few beverages and many stories to be had, and then it was off to bed at 0200 hrs after a fine evening with good company.
The next day, after another delightful breakfast we packed up to go by boat to Larsen Bay to be taken by plane back to Kodiak where we said our goodbyes. It was sad to leave as we felt we had found kindred spirits with Brigid and Harry and enjoyed their friendship and knowledge of Kodiak Island and of course the 'stars': the bears.
On the flight back we spotted over 30 mountain goats hanging out of ledges on the mountains as the plane flew through the interior of the island, and more outstanding scenery to view as Kodiak Island is such a beautiful, diverse island.
Thank you Brigid and Harry for enriching and inspiring our life with these memories that we will always treasure. Please continue with your great work and keep healthy.
(62 year old, plump, walking Aussie wildlife lover).
PS: This trip isn't for the faint hearted, one needs to be in tune with nature and enjoy the outdoors and bush camping, but it is well worth it!