"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Fur and Feathers Journals, Ch. 13, In Which We Visit Shelter Creek and The Orphans Visit Us

It's our last full day at Silver Salmon Creek with its plethora of Coastal brown bears.   Today we're going on another boat trip, this time south to Shelter Creek.

Michele, the editor of Alaska magazine, joins us on this trip.   She's been going on all our bear viewing rides, and it's interesting to watch her photographing the bears and puffins.

Cook Inlet, named after the famed explorer Capt. James Cook, is at peace today and the ride is smooth as we travel south.  Even getting to the boat is easier than our trip to Duck Island to see the puffins as the ATV is able to drive far out onto the tidal flats and deliver us almost to the boat.

Can you see the speck of the boat on the horizon?

Oliver, the son of lodge owners Davis and Joanne Coray, is our captain.  Once at Shelter Creek, he maneuvers the boat carefully towards a beach at the mouth of Shelter Creek, with Rick in the bow watching for submerged rocks.

Nice views of Mt. Iliamna on the way to Shelter Creek.

Iliamna is the snow-capped peak at far right.


From there, it's a short wade to shore.   Rick comes up beside me so I can balance myself by holding his arm.   I'm wearing those wretched hip boots again, but this time I have on three layers of socks so my footing is more stable.

"Thanks for helping Rick, Jeanne," says Ron.   "That's so nice of you."

Rick went back to the boat to fetch a dry pair of waders.   This photo is fuzzy so I didn't enlarge it too much, but I still  like it.   It's one of those quick, over the shoulder shots with a point and shoot Coolpix.

We're met by Tyler,  who, with Daniel, operate a remote tent camp for guests of Silver Salmon Creek Lodge who want an even more remote experience.

L-R:   Tyler, Rick, Daniel, Kate with Gary behind her, and Michele.

Once we're all at the river, a small bear appears and we're off to photograph the beautiful creature with Mt. Iliamna as the backdrop.   

She wanders upstream and wanders downstream, not paying us the least bit of attention.

This is a gorgeous spot and the weather couldn't be more pleasant.   The hard core photographers follow th bear upstream, watching for that perfect photo, while I go back to the beach, talk with Tyler, and snap photos of things I find interesting.

Iliamna is on the far right.

I thought this piece of driftwood resembled a sea otter lying on its back.   No one else did.

Rick is on the right in the foreground.   Look between his belt and his right arm (your left, his right).   That's a can of bear spray in a black holster.

Eventually, it's time to return to the boat and go back to Silver Salmon Creek.  As we're riding back to the lodge from the beach, we spot The Orphans in the meadow, moving towards us, and we stop to watch.

Look at how pretty their coats are when they're dry, even though they're shedding.

Once they reach the trail, one crosses immediately in front of the ATV and the other wanders past us along the trail.  

Farther back on the trail is Cody, a guide from the lodge, who parks his ATV and waits for the cub to decide  where she's going.

She goes into the path to one cabin, comes out, into another, and out.   Finally she makes up her mind and disappears into the forest.   Only then does Cody move.

Later on, Ron says, "I noticed you had bear spray with you at Shelter Creek."   Rick responds, "I don't know those bears as well."

This is what I call the meadow, as seen from the upper deck of Silver salmon Creek Lodge. 

The label for Shelter Creek is just above Herbs Lagoon at the bottom of the photo.

Silver Salmon Creek is located on the western (left) shore of Cook Inlet, roughly across from the town of Ninilchik on the eastern shore.


  1. I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten up close and personal with the bears thanks to you and your camera. I agree with you regarding the piece of driftwood. It definitely resembles an otter floating on its back.

    Thanks again for sharing your fantastic adventure.

  2. Met by Tyler at Shelter Creek, and once on the beach, a small bear appears ... it's almost like Tyler had the bear "scheduled" to appear once you were there! Spectacular photos
    of Iliamna and her companion mountains and glaciers. Incredibly spectacular photos of the bears ... I can almost feel them breathing on me. And, what a photo experience to
    be close enough in your pictures to see the expressions in the eyes of those bears. Cool!! Patti and (in Mongolia) Cap

  3. I can NOT imagine .. I can NOT fathom .. going out onto tidal flats period much less in an ATV that could break down. Last I heard tidal flats are very dangerous. NO ?? Some stunning photos of the snow in the background. Fun watching the cub make up its mind as to where it is going. Fun looking into the eyes of a cub. Just fun period .. Smiles .. Cap and Patti ..

  4. Bears, gorgeous mountain, the whole deal -- fantastic. Great photos -- gosh, I would be in heaven there. The sun on the orphans' coats really is lovely.