Author Topic: The Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips  (Read 22122 times)

Offline justmeha

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #60 on: February 25, 2021, 05:00:33 AM »














what's with the cable hanging of the trailing edge of the wing?

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #61 on: February 25, 2021, 11:03:42 AM »
Wowow.. Absolutely best of the best!! (Can it be any better??) Was well worth the page loading time..

And as a little token of appreciation.. There is a new sour pickle brand, "Crunchies", if you haven't tried it yet go ahead and do so and you'll bless this day forever!

https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=102626.msg2409817#msg2409817
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #62 on: February 25, 2021, 11:06:21 AM »
Awesome!

How did you manage to get the heads to be at the same height?

I learned a thing or two here:

I've had experience with S'dom. I used to be short, but I stayed there overnight once.....
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #63 on: February 25, 2021, 11:07:10 AM »
what's with the cable hanging of the trailing edge of the wing?

Mooring ropes
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Offline Traveler718

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #64 on: February 25, 2021, 11:07:14 AM »
Amazing pics and write-up!! Since it will probably be a while until you get up to trip 3, could you summarize the pros and cons of Katmai vs. Lake Clark for bear viewing? It's high on our bucket list and obviously needs to be planned and booked well in advance.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #65 on: February 25, 2021, 11:30:14 AM »
Amazing pics and write-up!! Since it will probably be a while until you get up to trip 3, could you summarize the pros and cons of Katmai vs. Lake Clark for bear viewing? It's high on our bucket list and obviously needs to be planned and booked well in advance.

LOL, was indeed gonna do that in part 3.

(Note that everything here regarding Lake Clark is about Crescent Lake. Chinitna Bay, Silver Salmon Creek, etc. are a completely different parsha.)

Katmai's bears are more concentrated, so you're guaranteed to see tons. In Lake Clark they're more spread out, so you may only see a few. That being said, numbers really don't matter much, it's about what the bears do. I saw less than 10 the first time there and around 50 the second, and honestly the overall experience was not terribly different. Winner: both.

In K you are most often on a boardwalk and above the bears, which creates a certain lack of intimacy with them. In LK you're on the water, and often even lower than the bears. It really has the feeling of being among the bears that K just lacks. But then in K you have bears sharing paths and campgrounds with you as well. Winner: both.

A guide in K is useless, while in LK it's required (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Winner: both (see a pattern yet...?).

A typical day trip (aka 4 hours on the water) is absolutely perfect for LK, and utterly useless at K. I suggests at least a full day on the ground, preferably more. Winner, time wise: Lake Clark

Scenery: LK is one of the most stunning places I've been to. K is... overall meh. Winner: Lake Clark, by a million miles.

Other activities: K offers hiking, bus tours, cultural sites, and more. LK has none. Both have fishing. Winner: Katmai.

Amenities: K has everything, LK has none (including bathrooms). Winner: Katmai.

All that being said: my personal recommendation for most people is Lake Clark. The bear experience is just overall more exciting, and logistically it's a hundred times simpler. BUT: the bears fishing at Brooks Falls is a sight that puts everything else to shame.

So it all comes down to practical details. Cost, logistics, availability, and so on. And the most important factor: the dates. The whole Brooks Falls thing lasts a fee short weeks. Lake Clark has good viewing for nearly two months - longer if you move beyond Crescent Lake.

Or.... just join a Kosher Horizons trip and don't worry about anything ;D. There will be some really interesting and unique Alaska options this summer iy"h.
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Offline VacationLover

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #66 on: March 01, 2021, 12:29:44 AM »
INSANE!!!!!!!!

Offline VacationLover

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #67 on: March 02, 2021, 12:01:25 PM »
@Something Fishy I'm holding my breath to read @shayaj  bear encounter.

Offline yoruel

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #68 on: March 02, 2021, 12:40:49 PM »
Epic pictures.
I hope people are able to take trips based on seeing your pictures.
Incredible.
And also appreciated that you take the time to post the TR.

Offline shayaj

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #69 on: March 10, 2021, 11:52:31 PM »
Now this whole episode, while it may have been an adrenaline-fueled adventure for me, is small beans compared to what @shayaj experienced on the way back from lunch. But I'll let him tell it in his own words in a separate post.

To make a long story short...

One thing @Something Fishy isn’t talking about is that every time we saw a bear a mile away (on the trail) he started acting like the fish he is afraid of being eaten… so I decide I need to find a way for some alone time with the bears.

After lunch, I was playing with some pumice (pieces of lava – they look like stones, but they are extremely light, so it floats on water) I accidentally stepped into the water and my shoes and socks got soaked.



So I decided to stay behind and wait for them to dry up a bit as my friends started the 1.2 mile hike down to the falls.



And that's how I found myself walking alone in the middle of grizzly territory. Following all we learned at bear school, I started singing and making noise so the bears knew that someone is coming and don't get surprised. After a few minutes of walking I found a park ranger going down to the lake so I was happy that I'll have company at least for some of the way.

As we are walking and talking we see a mama grizzly and her cub coming our way.



Following what I learned, we started walking backwards but the bears kept coming towards us, that usually means that we are in the bear's path so we made a 90° turn and started to walk backwards into the woods.




After about 10 minutes the bears moved on, at this point the ranger and I parted ways and I was alone again

After a few more minutes of walking, I found myself facing two more bears only this time they were two big ones and I was alone.



At this point I decided that the smart thing would be to put my phone down and focus... After a few minutes of sizing each other up they went the other way.

And I lived to tell the tale !!!
Normal is a setting on a washing machine.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #70 on: March 11, 2021, 12:44:06 AM »
To make a long story short...

One thing @Something Fishy isn’t talking about is that every time we saw a bear a mile away (on the trail) he started acting like the fish he is afraid of being eaten…

#Fakenews, but in exchange for me letting him keep this in I get to post a video of Shaya being an idiot in the next segment. So good deal, IMO.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2021, 12:52:47 AM by Something Fishy »
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Offline yesitsme

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #71 on: March 11, 2021, 01:19:21 AM »
#Fakenews, but in exchange for me letting him keep this in I get to post a video of Shaya being an idiot in the next segment. So good deal, IMO.
letsgo

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #72 on: March 11, 2021, 10:54:00 AM »
Trip 2, July



Part 2

Woke up this morning in King Salmon to a big pile of grizzly poop on our front porch. Not sure if it was personal or not.

Off we go to Katmai once more:



Beautiful morning:



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Ah, good to be back:



That's gotta hurt:



Let's see what's happening at the falls today:



Plenty of salmon today as well:



Waiting....



Bingo:



Zaftiga sechoira:



That's one lucky fish... had he jumped out two inches to the right he may not have had a very good day:



Less lucky fish:



As per the schoolyard rules, the big bullies hung out in the best spot right beneath the falls:



Smart salmon. If he has to die, he may as well go in style: slapping a grizzly in the face:





Today we made some time to visit the Riffles, an area of light rapids a bit downriver from the falls. Normally the Riffles platform is used as a kid of holding pen for the falls platform - since normally only 40 people are allowed at the falls for 20 minutes, people hang out at the Riffles to await their turn. Of course with Covid the place was basically empty, but it is definitely worth an hour or two.

Here's an overview of the river - the Riffles is where you can see a bunch of bears in the shallow water:



The main difference between this and the falls (other than, you know, the falls) is that the Riffles platform is lower down, so you're nearly at the bears' eye level. It's a whole different type of experience.

First we watched this bear doing... something:



This guy was just being a dork:



"Loshon hora is a no no no...."



Aww, look - it's a bear hug! So cute:



Oh, wait:



Things heating up:



"That looks like fun! Wish I can join the fight... Let me bite him on the leg and see what happens:"



"Oh, you want a piece of this???"



"Let's do it then":







Whelp:



Plenty of bears were fishing down here as well:





Mmmmmm:





Looks more like a sweet puppy than a 1000-pound death machine:





Another fight, just a few feet away from us:

]



We had a tour guide to lead us back to camp:



Back at the lower river, this guy found some fishing gear and was having fun:



And this bear is a vegan (he told us so himself, numerous times). He has no friends:



Katmai isn't just bears, although of course they're the main attraction. Here's a cute family of common mergansers:







This greater yellowlegs has been doing some fishing as well:



And of course there's the ever-terrifying headless eagle, looking to take you under his wing:



In non-Covid times, you can also take a bus tour to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the site of the biggest volcanic eruption in the 20th century when Novarupta blew. These days is basically dormant, but apparently it's a worthwhile day trip.

But we still got to see a bit of the eruption: the lakeshore is liberally covered with pumice - volcanic lava rocks so full of tiny holes that they float. They were blown here from the eruption, something like 50 miles away. It's quite a bewildering feeling to pick up a rock the size of your head only for it to turn out to be nearly weightless. Then you chuck it in the lake... and it just floats. Extremely weird.



There are other things to do as well - two of the guys went fishing, only to be chased away by a couple of bears (park rule of the day: if a bear wants your fish, the bear gets your fish).

There's plenty of hiking as well. Just because some of the walkways and platforms are elevated doesn't mean that you can't go anywhere else - they're just there for convenience. You can always feel free to leave the security of the fences and wander about, which is what a couple of us did.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) we didn't bump into too many bears however. One of the basic rules they teach you in bear school is to always make noise while in the bush, so as not to surprise a bear. So as we walked we sang stupid songs at the top of our lungs, and the bears did their part and stayed well out of sight. We also needed to be careful when we approached the beach areas, as cutting off a bear from his escape route is not exactly a, shall we say, very smart move. But when we got to the beach the bears just jumped in the water instead of negotiating with us for safe passage.

Unfortunately so few bears made for a rather dull hike, so we cut it short. Of course as soon as we were back on the bridge we saw all the bears come streaming back out of the woods...

We were also greeted with some slightly strange looks from the people on the bridge. Turns out our incredible singing had carried... Nu nu, I've done worse things than yodel like an idiot in the woods ;D.

And on that sweet note, it was time to bid adieu to Katmai National Park and begin the trek back to Anchorage.



After a good night's sleep in town, we headed east on the stunning Seward Highway. Since we had to catch the tunnel to Whittier, we skipped lookout after stunning lookout and did just one: Portage Lake:



This mountain used to be massive natural barrier to the tiny town of Whittier, which sits on the other side along Prince William Sound. For many years the only access was from the sea, until they built the rail tunnel in the 40s. In 2000 the tunnel was upgraded to allow vehicular travel as well, so the whole driving to Whittier thing is kinda new.



The tunnel is one of the strangest ones out there: the entire thing is only one lane, and shared road and railroad. It operates on a strict schedule: every 15 minutes it changes from cars to trains, and then everything switches to the opposite direction of travel.

Pretty cool experience, driving on the railroad tracks:



Made it to a gloomy, rainy Whittier:



We were followed out of the tunnel by... a train. Not something that happens every day:



For many year, before the tunnel was built, Whittier was known as the city under one roof, as everything was located in the one and only building - housing, the school, the prison, all stores - everything:



Nowadays though it's more of a weird tourist trap town slash fishing village. These guys fit right in (see what I have to deal with when @shayaj comes on a trip???):



The tunnel toll for trucks ranges from $137 to $330, but this DDFer trucker figured out the MBM method:



Anyways, down to the dock to board the M/V Bravest, a former NY Waterways ferry that took part in the flight 1549 rescue effort on the Hudson. After being converted to a touring vessel and taking the very long sail from New York to Alaska, it was now going to take us on a cruise of Prince William Sound.



Although the day was gray and dreary, the views were still spectacular. We didn't have too much luck with wildlife, but there were a couple of good sightings.

A colony of endangered Steller sea lions:











Solitary otter:



This particular cruise is called the 26 Glacier Cruise, because you get to see - wait for it - 26 glaciers, the most interesting ones are Harvard and Blackstone. Harvard is by far the biggest glacier in the part of the sound known as College Fjord, and it dominates the view from miles away:



An interesting thing you can see in the above picture is how massive glaciers often create their own weather. While it's deeply overcast everywhere else, right on top of the glacier the sun is shining.

As you get closer, the water begins to be full of ice broken off from the glacier - bergy bits:





The ice just comes pouring off the mountains:





Absolutely spectacular:







There was a giant triangle of ice a couple hundred feet tall that looked ready to crack, so we hung around waiting for the show:


Video credit @shayaj



Couple of smaller calving events:





THe water around the glacier may look clean and clear, but upon closer inspection you notice that it's actually pretty opaque and filled with intricate patterns of glacial flour (aka silt):



Couple of harbor seals and otters hauled out on the icebergs:

DSC_7365 by Morris  Hersko, on Flickr

DSC_7510 by Morris  Hersko, on Flickr

A guy on the ship had a drone and shared some footage:



Continuing on:



Another glacier through the mist:



Some more otters:



Approaching Blackstone Glacier:





While here, too, it seems like some ice was getting ready to calve, we had no such lick. Instead we went to check out the nearby black-legged kittiwake rookery:



Massive waterfalls coming off the glacier:





...And that's a wrap! Goodbye glaciers, goodbye Alaska.

For another couple of weeks, at least.




One final pic for this trip. Within five minutes of being on the boat, the wind had gotten hold of my cap, yarmulka, and peyos. Thankfully my peyos were attached, because the cap and yarmulka were never seen again.

Once more @whYME comes to the (Photoshop) rescue and fixes it all:



The end.
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Offline YitzyS

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #73 on: March 11, 2021, 11:06:52 AM »
One final pic for this trip. Within five minutes of being on the boat, the wind had gotten hold of my cap, yarmulka, and peyos. Thankfully my peyos were attached, because the cap and yarmulka were never seen again.

Once more @whYME comes to the (Photoshop) rescue and fixes it all:


Um.... If the photo is mirrored (as the shirt logo indicates), the words on the yarmulke should be backwards also...

But if it's Na Nach, backwards may in fact be forward
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #74 on: March 11, 2021, 11:10:00 AM »
Um.... If the photo is mirrored (as the shirt logo indicates), the words on the yarmulke should be backwards also...

But if it's Na Nach, backwards may in fact be forward

.γltɔɒxƎ
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Offline Traveler718

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #75 on: March 11, 2021, 02:59:29 PM »
Amazing pics as always! I know I'm spoiled when the day 2 bear pics are a letdown because I've already been blown away by day 1, so it's just "more of the same."

Question: For a visit to Katmai, what lens(es) did you use/would you recommend? I'm sure an ultra-zoom is necessary for some of your super closeups, but do you get close enough to the bears that you can get really good pics with just a standard wide-angle? Or is like in Antarctica where you're so far away that you need 600mm to get quality pics?

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #76 on: March 11, 2021, 04:14:53 PM »
Amazing pics as always! I know I'm spoiled when the day 2 bear pics are a letdown because I've already been blown away by day 1, so it's just "more of the same."

Question: For a visit to Katmai, what lens(es) did you use/would you recommend? I'm sure an ultra-zoom is necessary for some of your super closeups, but do you get close enough to the bears that you can get really good pics with just a standard wide-angle? Or is like in Antarctica where you're so far away that you need 600mm to get quality pics?

Thanks!

As far as lenses, I used a wide range of focal lengths. I love detail images, so I leaned heavily towards the 600mm end. That being said, pretty much all pictures showing the entire bear could have been taken with a shorter focal length. For example, this was taken at 370mm and zero crop:


Leap of faith, Brooks Falls

I'd still advocate that a 150-600 in conjunction with a wider lens are the perfect combo, but a 100-400 is nearly as good and a 70-300 100% serviceable. Note that this is all for full frame; on a crop the 150-600 might actually be too long.

Remember that while many bears are extremely close, plenty aren't - and there aren't too many opportunities for you to get closer. So a flexible lens is key. (This is unlike Lake Clark, where you are on a boat and can literally get to within 10 feet of a bear if you'd like.)
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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #77 on: March 11, 2021, 07:06:21 PM »
One final pic for this trip. Within five minutes of being on the boat, the wind had gotten hold of my cap, yarmulka, and peyos. Thankfully my peyos were attached, because the cap and yarmulka were never seen again.

Once more @whYME comes to the (Photoshop) rescue and fixes it all:


@whYME Yechi yarmulka version please.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline Dan

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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #78 on: March 11, 2021, 07:06:36 PM »
Really incredible TRs!
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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips
« Reply #79 on: March 11, 2021, 10:31:40 PM »
@whYME Yechi yarmulka version please.
+1
I was thinking the same about the picture of the cream cheese