My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Volunteering for a week in Seymour Canal~ Near Juneau, Alaska

June 24-29, 2013 When my husband asked me if I would be
willing to come and volunteer with him for a week out in the field
I was thrilled to take the offer. I actually met him 18 years
earlier as I was on a volunteer trip in the same area. This time we
would be boating around the area and checking in on remote cabins.
It was an great week that even rain could not ruin!

IMG_10215fly slide

Slide Lake

IMG_10210fly pC:windfall

Pack Creek is the creek
flowing out the mud flats in the photo and we stayed on Windfall
Island where we stay.

On the day we landed it was
80+degrees outside… In Alaska 80 feels like 100 anyplace else, it
was hot and the horse flies were terrible. But we loaded the float
plane and took off for a 30 minute flight.

We unloaded
and got ourselves set up at camp
then we got in the skiff and visited Windfall Harbor, what a
beautiful area.


you can see all the crab
pots here.

The only sad part were the areas that were
damaged or trashed by the crabbers (professional fisherman that
collect/sell crabs). They toss their extra crab pots in the woods
along with other junk and just leave it. They often trash the
campsite with their garbage and don’t clean up after themselves. It
is just a bit sad.

sun setting on


sea anemone in the


sea anemone in the


sea anemone out of water
on high tide


star fish

On the
next day we set out to do the work that Harry needed to complete.
But before we did we stopped to take advantage of the low tide and
view the sea anemone’s at low tide, such interesting looking
creatures. We also got a good view of many, many, many starfish.
IMG_10063* IMG_10065* IMG_10064* IMG_10066*

do you see the


wish you could hear the

We then went
exploring around the area, up and down Seymour Canal. We started up
in Pleasant Bay, then past the Bug Islands, into Fools Inlet and up
to Olivers Inlet. Along the way I saw a mom deer nursing her fawn,
found gumboots both eaten and uneaten at low tide, we saw and heard
loons and 100’s of bald eagles. I learned that Seymour Canal has
more bald eagles per square mile than anyplace else in the world
(according to Fish and Wildlife). We saw wildflowers, beaver
activity and even a skeleton of a deer that had not made it through
winter. We came across beautiful meadows and a salt chuck that was
amazing. Each time you turned a corner there was a breathtaking
view.We heard and saw loons throughout the trip, as well as a mink
or two on shore occasionally. The trip was just full of


mama deer nursing her

IMG_9970gumboot eaten


IMG_9954us saltchuck

the salt chuck behind

IMG_9952beaver work

busy beavers

IMG_9956deer carcuss

deer skeleton

IMG_9916blue ger

wild blue

IMG_9859deer tracks

deer tracks on many of the


eagles were everywhere in
the area.


brown bear follow the same
path over and over and over and over again, and you begin to see
these pad marks in the ground.

Last but not least were the brown
bears. We saw many of them on this adventure, but you will have to
visit this blog to read more about them:

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Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area

After meeting my husband I have become more and more interested in brown bears and less and less frightened of them.  Pack Creek is on Admiralty Island about 30 miles south of Juneau.   Also called “Kootznoowoo,” (hence our chocolate lab was named Kootz) or “Fortress of the Bears,” by the native Tlingit people, Admiralty has more brown bears per square mile than any where else in the world, about 1,500 in total, more than all the lower 48 states combined. IMG_10081bear clam look

This area was first homesteaded by Stan Price and because of his interaction with the brown bear the bear are much more habituated to humans  and the area provides a protected space for the brown bears. IMG_10059homestead

Both the US Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish & Game work to insure that visitors can come to the area and yet have  minimal impact to brown bears.

IMG_0895 IMG_0888 IMG_10179cubs

IMG_9779fly us

our flight out, note the ear plugs, a must on small planes


essential items flying with us to camp, including all our food and some fresh water.


our plane at the float pond in Juneau


loading the plane


off we go

You must have a permit to visit Pack Creek between June 1 and Sept. 10 and you can get them by visiting Recreation.gov or calling their toll free number 1-877-444-6777.   People can also sign up with a tour guide in Juneau.  Individual then must figure out how they will get to Pack Creek, most come by plane but many also arrive via boats of some kind.

IMG_10208fly packcreek

a view of Pack Creek and mud flats from the air

Pack Creek is formed from the snow that starts about 4000 feet above and descends into Seymour Canal. At the base is about a 400-acre mud flat that is especially visible at low tide.  The bear spend a lot of time in flats clamming and looking for other food sources UNTIL the fish arrive.  Typically the BEST  bear viewing on Pack Creek is when the pink and chum salmon begin heading back up the river in early July.  My husband had seen a fish in the river as early as June 30, his colleague, June 28th but as the 3 of use were out at the viewing tower, we saw one on June 26th.  The summer of 2013 is off to a good start for the bears.

IMG_10055sign trailhead

the bears all but destroyed the sign placed here in the 90’s

IMG_10056sign 'pack'

what’s left of the Pack Creek Trail sign

IMG_10054bear scratch tree

signage of bear everywhere, this tree has bear claw marks in it

IMG_10043fresh poo

yep bears do poop in the woods and on the walking trail


paw print in the sand

Upon arrival a staff member will meet you and make sure you are aware of all the rules that you must follow to visit this area.  No food can be on you, you are only allowed to walk in certain areas, etc.  The rangers fill you in on what has been recent activity and will lead you to the viewing spit, or direct you to the 1 mile trail to the viewing tower.  The trail to the tower is a MUST do regardless if you see bear or not, walking through the old growth rain forest is something pretty special. IMG_10008bear hair tree IMG_10007bear scratch tree IMG_9924Pcubs

IMG_10077bear clam


We saw a lot of activity, including a bear clamming, 2 sub adults playing with each other, and a mom and her 2 cubs.  The 2 sub adults have been friends since they were with their moms.  It is really unusual that the mom allowed their cubs to play together, but they did and after the moms ‘kicked the out’ these two have remained friends.  The mom with her 2 female cubs was the most visible.  She seems to feel quite safe at the south spit and spends a lot of time there.  We saw the cubs playing with the out haul lines, rousting with each other and simply exploring.IMG_10173cub IMG_10167pokey cubs IMG_0969 IMG_10160popkey cubsIMG_10179cubs

We got quite close to the mom and her cubs as we were returning to our boat on the night of our visit.  They were not on the spit when we walked the trail, but they were upon our arrival back.  Mom checked us out quite a bit, but in the end they just laid down and we continued on our route.  We did NOT displace them or stress her out and she was not worried about us at all.


tip of windfall as we paddled back from our night at Pack Creek

IMG_10218fly bear alpine

as we flew home we saw 7 brownies in the alpine. In late June they follow the snow line up and eat along the way. Plus with the heat we were having that day (high 70”s) they were climbing to cool off as well as find food.

I hope you someday consider a visit to Pack Creek, it is a magical place. IMG_9797IMG_0939 IMG_0937 IMG_0936

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Camp Life; Windfall Island


the solar powered fence

June 24-29, 2013

Living in a remote field camp for a week gave me a bit of an insight to what the staff that live there all summer experience daily. There are 3 tent platform structures. These are put up and taken down each year. The first one you see is the cook tent, it has a table, sink, stove/oven and many bear proof food boxes. There is a small propane heater here as well for those cold wet days of southeast AK. This structure is surrounded by a solar powered electric fence as even more assurance of bears not getting into the structure. IMG_1camp cooktent

The staff and volunteers stay in one of two tent platform structures. There is one for Fish and Game folks and one for Forest Service folks. There are cots inside and a heater just in case it gets a bit cool. We never had to use it, but I am sure it is nice for those wet cold SE, AK nights. Each night I laid in bed reading (with my head lamp) and enjoyed the quiet of living so remote. One of the nights it rained, because of the tarp over the tent is sounded as if it were POURING, but it really wasn’t… the rain was a great white noise for sleeping!

IMG_9damp home

IMG_8camp home

our tent from the outside

Using the ‘outhouse’ is certainly a part of life in the wilderness. The outhouse on Windfall is really just a tarp with a nice seat! The view is my favorite part of using the throne at camp! IMG_15camp outhouse view Before entering the toilet area you must first turn the sign around to indicate that it is occupied… when you leave you rotate it back to VACANT. IMG_6camp

Typically holes for outhouses need to be moved after a few years because they become too full or the smell too much to handle… however, this field crew has learned if you burn your TP after use and not put in the hole, it does not fill up so quickly AND the staff put a packet of RTB 740 into the hole… this speeds up the natural degradation process in the composting/outhouse toilet. Not only does it increase in digestion efficiency, odors are controlled by preventing their formation. Pit toilets will not have to be emptied or moved as often and composting toilets will function better with less chance of overload. It was amazingly nice for an outhouse.


the view as you approach the toilet!


the cans and torch to burn the paper in/with.


me taking care of my TP!

Lastly a few other shots of important parts of the field camp on Windfall Island!

IMG_2camp water source

collection of rain water

IMG_3camp solar

solar panel used to gather energy to charge items while at camp


the boat outhaul for the skiffs, kayaks or canoes!