Day 8: Kevin Returns to Homer Friday, June 23, 2006

The end of bear viewing time here at McNeil has arrived. Kevin will be flying out today back to Homer where we will join him tomorrow. Today was just a day to hang around camp and photograph some of the scenery around the McNeil Camp. We were up early so we could chat with the other campers before they headed out to the flats to view bears. Just as we were one week ago, for some of the campers, today was the first day and they were excited to go view bears for the first time. As soon as all the morning chores were done, we all sat around and talked about the day ahead of them. Lucas and I planned to be here one more day and Kevin and Tom were flying back to Homer today.

Last Hurrah

After the group headed out to the flats, Kevin, Tom Ulmer (Tom is from Arkansas and had a permit for McNeil at the same time we did. Tom was stationed in Anchorage for a number of years and is currently living in Little Rock) , Lucas and I set to the tasks of obtaining water and splitting wood for the woodstove and sauna. While getting water at a local creek, we noticed a female and three cubs headed towards the camp. We grabbed our cameras and went with one of the rangers to go photograph the cubs. Tom (one of the rangers at McNeil) very specifically reminded us not to get into her space, rather allowing her to establish her own comfort zone with us. After photographing them for about 30 minutes, the bears went on their way and we headed back to camp.

We all hung around camp awaiting the float plane to come and exchange passengers, picking up Kevin and Tom and leaving another new group of campers. Just like at our arrival, the plane arrived at high tide and we all made a chain to carry everyone’s gear to the plane. It is a little trek across the spit to get to the float plane, but time goes by quickly with everyone pitching in. The new campers arrived and we said our goodbyes to Kevin and Tom, envying the idea that in a few hours they will have a hot meal and be drinking a cool one. We knew our chance for the same would come soon enough tomorrow!

Cliffside Stroll against the Tide

Later in the day, a group of us took a stroll along the beach below the cliffs, just past the ranger headquarters. Not too far down the beach, we saw a pair of eagles nesting in the cliff just above us. Quite a sight to see, the female eagle was sitting on the nest and the male was out gathering for their impending family. We strolled up the beach and the view was nothing less than amazing. I can’t believe I did not take this walk last time I was here. There is a point where one can get past the cliff and continue on down the beach. Be aware that when high tide arrives, one could be stuck there for a while, so the timing of tides is important to consider when making this hike. As for our group, we barely made it past the rock before high tide set in. That was a close one! We were glad no bears were around for that trip!

Back at the camp we all settled in for the night and I continued to write in my journal. I find the week has worn on me, and although there is much to write, I must save it for some other time.