We booked a flightseeing trip to Prince of Wales Island for Bear viewing with SeaWind Aviation. It would take us to Polk Inlet to view bears at the USFS Dog Salmon Creek Bear Viewing Platform. The flight there and back is about 20 minutes and the overall tour is about 3 hours. The pilot narrates what we are flying over and seeing and with the 2 way headsets we could ask any questions about the area. Prince of Wales Island is the 3rd largest in the United States.
My sister and I found this to be one of the most exciting things we got to do and see during our visit to Alaska. Flying is something we enjoy very much and seeing The Inside Passage by seaplane ranks pretty high our best things to do when there. There were 8 of us aboard the DeHavilland Beaver bush plane. Our personal bear guide, Jim “Diamond” flew with us over there to lead the tour. We had an easy walk for about a 1/4 of a mile walk along a groomed trail through beautiful woods to hopefully see wild bears feeding on salmon. About 4 species of salmon come through the area to spawn where the creek meets the sea.
One tour group was already present and we shared the platform until that group left. It was not crowded and all had good viewing and they soon left. The USFS controls the amount of visitors to this area. Our guide did carry a pistol for protection if needed but was careful and informative about the habitat and conditions for our expedition. Bears are plentiful in Alaska but only a few people ever see them. They tend to avoid and ignore people but always respect them and avoid them wherever possible but they do have there personal space.
I shot video and stills and managed to capture the female bear slapping the other male bears and driving them away but only on video. She brooked no competition for the food. Scott Murcray, our fellow bear viewing member captured the female bear catching a fish and shared his image with us.
The trees along this lovely path were Alders and Diamond uses this type of wood when he smokes large amount of salmon. The Tongass National Forest consists of 17 million acres and covers most of Southeast Alaska and we were surrounded by it during our voyages and flights.
We later saw both our bear guide Diamond and our pilot Steve Kamm featured on board the Alaska State Ferry “Columbia” in a series of documentary films on the Alaska’s history of Bush Pilots, Logging and Fishing Industry.
We were happy to have run into Mike del Rey and Terry Chandler at “The Asylum” in Ketchikan the day before or we would have missed out on this beautiful and exciting opportunity.