WOW!!! What an adventure it was!!!
There we were, in knee-high Mug boots, at low tide, on Alaska's Cook's Inlet mudflats, photographing brown bear sows teaching their cubs to dig for clams. And that was just the very first morning! We had flown with Tim Smith, in his small, but juiced up, Cesna (www.alaskasmithair.com) from Anchorage to the Silver Salmon Creek Lodge (www.silversalmoncreek.com) that morning. After landing smoothly on the beach, we were transported to the lodge, located on the shore of Cook's Inlet, by an all terrain vehicle (ATV) pulling a small trailer with us and our bags aboard. After a quick, informal check-in that included a warm welcome from our host Dave Coray, an introduction to our personal guide, Brian, and a familiarization tour of our very comfortable cabin, the Puffin Perch, we were off before lunch photographing Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears on the mudflats.
The concept for this photo adventure was conceived more than a year ago. I contacted the Silver Salmon Creek Lodge because so many bear photography workshops are conducted there. I specifically asked Dave Coray about the best time to photography first-year cubs. That's how Jane and I ended up in Alaska again (this was our sixth time), at this amazing location within the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (www.nps.org/lakl), in mid-July for an exciting four day stay.
The question often asked about our wildlife photographs is "how close were you?". Well, at Silver Salmon Creek we were very close. It was not uncommon for us to be within about ten yards of the bears. The coastal bears at Silver Salmon Creek have contended with photographers for several bear-generations and have habituated to the presence of photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. Even though we were in very close proximity, mother bears with their cubs were extremely tolerant and exhibited no signs of stress as we watched and photographed.
The images in the Silver Salmon Creek gallery tell the story. We delighted in watching female bears teaching their young to clam on the mudflats, chuckled at cubs cavorting and playing in the meadows, were impressed with the energy and power of immature bears posturing and play-fighting, and enjoyed tender moments as sows nursed their cubs. Of course there were many hours of trudging the landscape and waiting as the adult bears lazily grazed the meadows and the tuckered out cubs napped. But ....
WOW!!! What an adventure!!!