Lake Clark National Park is a land of stunning beauty where volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, rugged mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes, and local people and culture still depend on the land and water of their home. Solitude is found around every bend in the river and shoulder of a mountain. The solitude is surreal, refreshing for the soul and something you can't put into words. You need to experience it.
We boarded our charter flight from Kenai Airport, Alaska and flew with this amazing pilot who provided us with so much information about Lake Clark and the surrounding areas. The flight took just over an hour, felt like 10 minutes, but only due to the amazing commentary and sites we encountered. To see the natural beauty of this amazing place from the plane, please visit my blog Lake Clark (from the air).
Coming in over the water, we circled around the beach and the pilot took us in for one of the smoothest landings I can remember, touching down on the pebble beach of Lake Clark. Apparently one of the other pilots had bogged his plane in the sand earlier, so he was making sure we didn't have to help dig him out.
We had very strict luggage requirements for this part of the trip. The easy part of limiting the luggage was the clothes allowance (what we had on was it), apart from some fresh underwear and socks. Camera gear was another issue and obviously won out - pretty much taking up the whole allowance.
As we collected our gear from the plane, we set off down the beach, watching our pilot skillfully take off and head back to the mainland.
We rounded the corner and hit our first landmark (which is where we knew the plane would return to) - the American flag.
We would set up camp and then make our way to the Peninsula, located toward the mountains in this picture, where the bears were fishing for salmon.
A mother and her cub also made this walk everyday we were there. They came from the opposite end of the beach and on two occasions wandered up the beach in front of us.
Upon strolling up the beach around 10pm one night, we came across these beautiful ducks and spotted the lone bear in the background.
The bears appeared to never sleep and this was the view we had walking back to our camp site - somewhere around 11pm at night. The dots in the background are bears fishing for their late supper.
This was certainly a favourite spot for a large amount of bears. All of the dots in the background are the bears in the water.
On one of our hikes we came across these three light aircraft lined up at the edge of the water. This was a very popular spot for day trips of tourists from the mainland.
We had travelled to Lake Clark to spend our time with the Brown Bear and we were certainly not disappointed. Every morning we would spend hours watching them either frolic in the water or meander through the trees; and at night there were many spots where they accumulated to catch the running salmon. Tide times were important and one day we watched an immature bear trying to catch Salmon on a fairly high tide. Needless to say it was quite tiring, and amusing for us, but after about 2 hours as the tide became lower, he finally managed to get his catch. Just as he was eating his catch, 4 other mature bears appeared, obviously a little more wise and very easily caught their fair share of salmon in a low tide.
Aside from spending the most amazing and incredible time immersed with the bears, Lake Clark has the most stunning and awe inspiring scenery. You could spend a great deal of time hiking through this beautiful land.
Whilst we didn't have time to make the hike to the top of the volcano, we were fortunate enough to pass close enough to be able to stand and admire this view.
And whilst we had been living with and getting to know the big brown bears, we also had this tiny little critter reside with us - always keeping us amused with his antics.