July 17-20th – After arriving by bush plane, we were given a quick orientation to camp, shown our ‘cabin’ where we put on our rain pants, collected our day packs and camera gear, packed a lunch from the galley and joined the 4 other guests heading out with the guide to watch the bears. All of this before 9am! But, we were excited to have the whole day ahead of us and a chance to see bears!
I’ll take a few minutes, here, to tell you about camp life as we experienced it over the next few days. Fred and I were in cabin #1.
Hallo Bay consists of a number of plastic/canvas covered huts spread out over the camp area and connected by gravel pathways through the grass. These huts were made to be able to take down and store during the winter, so as not to have to weather the snow and 150 mph winds.
Each guest cabin had two cots with sleeping bags, a small propane heater, two chairs, and a metal table and sink set up with a jug of water to use for washing.The bathroom facilities were located upstairs in a building just beside and behind the galley hut, a short walk from our cabin, and consisted of 2 composting toilets (kept pretty nice and non-smelling) and two shower rooms with hot water.
The galley, was a large, centrally located hut where meals were prepared and served. The galley had a wood stove for heat, which was very nice on a chilly morning. : ) The food was all home cooked and delicious. Breakfast was served at 7:30, though we usually managed to get a cup of coffee by 6:45am. Lunch was packed to go on our hikes and was usually whatever combo of a sandwich, chips, cookies, granola bars and fruit that we wanted, and eaten whenever we stopped to bear watch, with no formality. Dinner was served at 5 pm and was plentiful and welcome after our long day outside. Dessert was served about 9pm, after our evening excursion.
No food was to be kept or eaten outside of the galley while in camp. This was to prevent any chance that bears might find the food and associate it with people.
The front porch of the galley was where we met up each morning for our bear watching excursions. The general routine was, breakfast, 7:30am, then pack lunch and leave about 8:30am to be gone for the day bear watching. We would usually be back to camp about 4 pm. Dinner at 5 pm., and back out to bear watch about 6pm until 9 pm. Dessert, then bedtime.
We were not allowed to go outside of camp without a guide. This is DeWayne, who was our guide most of the time.
Most mornings, at low tide, we would walk out and see if there were any bears on the tidal flats right in front of the camp. Sometimes there were, but most often, not.
This little island was surrounded by water at high tide, but, at low tide, we walked all around this little island looking at life in the tide pools.
If no bears were hanging out on this beach, we hiked across on a cut through trail to another area of tidal flats to see if any bears were around. We usually spotted several, then would work our way into position and spend the next hour or so watching and photographing.
We usually ended up in a meadow across from the tidal flats about lunch time, as the tide was coming back in, because this is where the bears would gather. The bears would dig and eat clams at low tide, then wander up to the meadow to graze on grasses and plants as the tide came up.
Most evening, we went back to the meadow, where we usually found 5 or 6 bears scattered around and watched and photographed with amazing lighting.