Tutka Bay Lodge and Bear Watching in Katmai NP

We were sad to say farewell to Amory and Winterlake Lodge on August 19th, but we were flying to another sister lodge, Tutka Bay Lodge near Homer, Alaska. It was another beautiful sunny day for our flight over the Alaskan Range and the Tordrillo Mountains, Mount Gerdine, 11,258 ft, and many glaciers, over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. Tutka Bay Lodge sits in private cove in Kachemak Bay accessible from Homer, Alaska. It is one of the richest ocean estuaries in the world. It is open from May 1st through September 30th. We checked into our room with a surprise plate of chocolate covered strawberries for our 50th anniversary by Chef Jackie. We had a fantastic lunch in the main lodge, then went out on a boat ride with Margeaux, our guide, to view wildlife. We were thrilled to see the playful sea otters and their pups frolicking in the water, and on the water surface floating on their backs. Sea otters give birth in the water and the pups stay with their mothers until they’re up to a year old, or until she has another litter. And on the shore we saw a black bear walking along the beach. Back at the Lodge we got ready for dinner in the main building and enjoyed another fabulous 4 course meal. Bob was treated with another vegan birthday cake by Chef Jackie. It was so yummy. Click on thumbnail to view image

Tutka Bay Lodge

Bear Watching in Katmai National Park and Preserve

The next day we were up early and took the water taxi over to Homer to go on a bear watching tour as part of our stay at the Lodge. We went with the Sasquatch Alaska Adventure Co. out of Homer, there were eight people on the tour with us. We flew in two small planes for an hour to the Katmai National Park and Preserve where we landed on the pebble beach. Katmai was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region and today, Katmai also protects 9,000 years of human history and important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears. We spotted the carcass of a whale on the beach where the bears have been eating from it for awhile. After we departed from the plane we walked away from the beach to look for bear fishing in the river. We wore waders so that we could cross the water easily and we all stayed close together with a guide leading and a guide in the rear. Soon we saw a bear fishing in the river and we slowly kept moving closer to him. The bear was so preoccupied trying to catch a fish that we were able to stay and watch him playing in the water for quite some time. However, he was not able to catch any fish so we moved on to the next bear.

This bear was much larger and they called him “Lippy” because his lower lip was ripped open and he caught a fish right away. We stopped for lunch beside the river and then returned to the planes before the tide came in. We took off along the beach and once we were in the air we had a great view of the beach and the river where we saw the bears and Mount Douglas, a stratovolcano 7,021′ located in the Aleutian Range. We arrived back in Homer in less time and went to the Salty Dawg Saloon to celebrate after a great day’s adventure. The Salty Dawg was one of the first cabins built in Homer in 1897, soon after the establishment of the town. The bar is known for its thousands of dollar bills signed by visitors and tacked to the walls and ceiling. This practice started many years ago, when a visitor tacked a dollar on the wall, explaining that his friend would be by later. The dollar was intended for buying the friend a drink. Click on thumbnail to view image

Hiking to Grewingk Glacier and Lake

The next morning we went in a boat to hike to the Grewingk Glacier. On the way we passed by Gull Island where 20,000 seabirds nest on craggy rocks and cliffs. We saw Murres or common Guillemots nesting on the Island, Black-Legged Kittiwakes and Tufted Puffins. Once we got near the shore we jumped off the bow of the boat and stated our hike. We took the hand-pulley  tram across Grewingk Creek on the way to the Glacier. On the shore of Grewingk Lake we could see lots of icebergs from the Grewingk Glacier near the edge. Here we had lunch and celebrated our 50th anniversary with champagne. It was 50 years ago today we were married in the little log church in Parksville on Vancouver Island. We hiked back on a different trail and the boat was there to pick us up and headed back to the lodge. Again dinner was exceptional, another 4 course meal. Then we walked out to Sunset Point and enjoyed the beautiful alpenglow as the sun set on our last night at Tutka Bay Lodge. Click on thumbnail to view image