While it has been a few years, my trips to Alaska are among my most cherished memories and the sources of some of my favorite photos. Our trip to Kodiak Island off the coast of Alaska had special meaning for me, in addition to the chance to share the experience with my wife and daughter.
Well before my birth, my father served in the U.S. Navy before, during, and after World War II. Part of his duty took him to Kodiak, Alaska, which at the time was one of the largest naval bases in the Pacific. He was stationed there for quite a while, so my mother, my sister, and a brother went with him. I grew up many years later hearing stories and seeing old sepia-toned images about this phase of my family's history. This apparently planted a seed in me to someday visit Kodiak and see it for myself. My father had taken and printed many of the photos I had seen, and I'm sure that had some influence on my interest in photography as well.
During my family’s visit to Kodiak Island we didn’t try to retrace the steps taken during my family’s historic visit. So much of the island has changed that it wouldn’t be possible to do that, but just being there allowed me a first-hand view of what life for them there must have been like.
The giant brown bears of Kodiak Island were a major part of the stories I heard about those years, and thus were a major part of what I wanted to see while visiting the island. During our visit we did a fly-out to Fraser Lake on the western end of the island. Fishing was the major stated objective of the trip, but for me it was all about the bears. During the time we spent fishing for sockeye, or red salmon migrating up Dog Salmon Creek to Fraser Lake to spawn, we saw bears coming down to fish too. It was incredible to see the way these bears could run up or down stream in the water at full speed, as if the water provided no resistance to their running. The power and strength of these animals was breathtaking, and readily apparent. Clearly had one decided to take a greater interest in one of us, escape would have been impossible.
But apparently, for both the good and the bad, the bears have become acclimated to people, and they paid very little attention to us, simply coming down to the creek to fish like we weren’t there. Our guide, on the other hand, kept a close watch on them, and had his shotgun at the ready. A shotgun would do little, if anything, to stop a determined brown bear, so it was primarily a noise maker to be used before any bear got interested enough that stronger means were necessary. None of the bears we saw did anything that was even remotely aggressive, and we just got to watch them go about their business of catching fish.
Besides seeing bears, I also got a chance to see other parts of Kodiak, as well. This week’s photo shows a float plane landing on Zachar Bay to pick up guests departing Zachar Bay Lodge. This was the first day during our stay at Zachar Bay during which the sky was clear and the sun came out. But even when blanketed in clouds and fog, Kodiak Island is a spectacular place to visit. It is because of the clouds and fog that Kodiak is covered in a bright green coat of vegetation, which has earned it the nickname of the “Emerald Isle.” I certainly hope to return to Kodiak one day and continue building on my own memories, and those of my family before I was born.
This week’s photo was taken with a Canon 10D
dSLR and an EF 17-40 mm f/4 lens zoomed to 40 mm. Exposure was set to 1/500 sec at f/13 and ISO 400.