July 30, 2008

Captain Cook SRA, Bear Cubs & Spirit Stones....

Captain Cook State Recreation Area has been one of our favorite area (at least mine) since we've been in Alaska. It seemed to have everything - a view or a beautiful beach, beautiful sunsets, better weather than we'd had anywhere for awhile, wildlife, an interesting place to walk (the beach), unusual things to look for and for Sam - good fishing nearby.

Immediately upon arrival to the campground, I knew I was going to like it. We found a campsite looking over the beach. Every evening we were treated to a beautiful sunset that was even more spectacular at low tide.

The beach changed drastically from low to high tide. At high tide the water came up to the bottom of the bluff. There was no beach to walk on and there wasn't much to see but water. At low tide as if by magic, huge boulders would appear. Some of these boulders were 100 yards from the base of the bluff.

Walking the beach at low tide produces quite a variety of rocks. Some like I had never seen before. We discovered that there were a few fishing camps up the beach. The only way to get to these camps was to drive on the beach. We saw a variety of vehicles using the beach as a road at low tide.

One of the most interesting things we did while staying at this park was to go "spirit rock" hunting. We found out about these rocks from Bob and Joy. They had stayed at this park a month earlier and told us about them. We were told that these stones were about 8 miles up the beach and could only be reached at low tide. All hope was gone about finding any of these stones until we met Philip and his family. Philip graciously invited us to ride up the beach in his jeep the next day to look for these unusual rocks.

Since we had a narrow window in which we could look for these stones because of the tides, we made arrangements to meed at a certain time. We hopped into his doorless jeep and headed north on the beach from the campground.

The ride was bumpy and offered unusual scenery...

The 8 mile ride took about a half hour. We pulled on our hip boots and waders and tromp off in the muck, dragging plastic sleds and clam shovels to start our search.

It took awhile to develop an "eye" for which stones were just regular rocks and which ones were spirit stones. Soon we had both sleds full of stones.

Spirit stones is another name for concreations. These unusual stones are made by glacial mud. No one really knows how they are formed but are found in a few places around the world. The natives thought of them as having spirits in them and so were given the name spirit stones.

The tide was starting to come up. Since the tides rise quickly here we knew we had to leave or get caught on the beach. Sam and Philip had to pose for a radical jeep shot.

We met others trying to beat the tide back to the park.

Back at camp we get them cleaned up and look at the catch!

Look at this site if you'd like to find out a bit more about these stones and see some pictures of some of the nicer finds from the area: http://cookinletconcretions.com/

Back at the park....

Like I said, wildlife abounds. We saw moose, bear, ermine among others while staying here. The big news was the orphaned bear of brown bear cubs that were roaming around the campground apparently looking for food. We saw them many times. Most of the time there were lots of people around them snapping pictures. We don't know what will become of them. We do know that they won't make it through the winter without their mother.

Take a look at this video of these two cubs! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQv3DsiucHo

We did have another friend visit us anytime we sat outside. This young spruce grouse seemed to have no fear of humans. She would come searching around our campsite several times a day. As you can see in the photo, she really made herself at home!

Last but not least was this poor dog we saw on the road into town one day. We were in a hurry to catch a flight seeing tour so we couldn't really do anything about it. The poor dog was lying in the middle of the road with a buddy of his apparently waiting for it's master to come rescue it. It was gone on our drive back so I'm hoping the owner found the dog and somehow got the quills out of the dogs face.

Sockeye! Sockeye! & Combat Fishing! UPDATED!!!

In the past few weeks, we have braved the Artic Circle, trugged across the wild tundra, confronted ferocious bears, canoed forbidden lakes, cruised the Fjords, hiked on a magnificant glacier, kayaked Ressurection Bay in gail force winds and five foot seas.................

But now we get to witness and experience first hand one of Alaska's most talked about adventures...COMBAT FISHING!!!

So, you're asking yourself, just what is this dangerous sport "Combat Fishing" and why do "they" call it that? It all starts with a "hot tip" from a local about a remote "secret" fishin' hole on the Kenai River that "not many tourist have heard of". So, you drive down a few back roads, hike through the back of a stretch of woods, and find the "secluded path". Ah,Ha...this is starting to look a bit "fishy" already....

A few hundred yards farther and your visions of an isolated, quiet spot on the River are replaced with suspicions that the fellow who gave you that great tip is laughing while drinking a beer at the local bar about "yeh, I sent another one of them tourist to the secret hole"!

As you step down from the "oilfield grade" welded aluminum steps and platform into the water and look down to your right, your suspicions are confirmed...it's a Combat Fishing Zone!

But before long, the guy next to you makes a little room and you're in their swinging your line, pitching your lure with the rest. First thing you know a buddy upstream yells "fish on", everyone moves aside, you grab the closest landing net (no matter who's it is) and another fish is landed.
At the end of a few hours, with a little luck, a sore shoulder and lots of persistance you hold up the reward...three nice "Reds"....yep, three's the limit here.
So, after your first day out there you realize that all those folks wearing polarized sunglasses to "see the fish" and large hats to "keep off the sun" have actually prepared themselves for combat...that is, flying lures & hooks from excited fishermen!