Some relatives were visiting us last week from the Lower 48 and wanted to go on a Bear Viewing tour. I called around and worked out a good deal with one of the companies to take the five of us to Katmai National Park last Friday. We were to arrive there at 7:30 a.m., but told to call first in case there were weather delays.
Well, weather delays there were. The cloud cover was too low over at Katmai when I called at 7:15 a.m. so they said call back in an hour. I called back in an hour and got the same report. I called back another hour after that, and another hour after that. In Homer it was perfectly calm out, which is usually great for flying but it meant the cloud cover was too stable and not moving, and with the float planes, they need good visibility, combined with just the right tides since they land on the ocean.
Finally they said Katmai was off for the day, but they could take us to Lake Clark instead. The pilot would be our guide instead of the permanent on-ground staff, and the plane ride would be 45 minutes instead of an hour. We would still get 3 hours on the ground viewing the bears. By time I consulted with my cousins and then called back the company, the cloud cover had lowered and a float plane that had just tried to land at Lake Clark was unable to land so that was called off too.
It seemed a bit grueling to have our day on hold like that, wondering hour by hour if we were going to be able to go. We could have tried for Saturday but the weather report was not optimistic and my relatives didn't feel like going through that again. I can see that there are a lot of things to factor in with these trips: weather in Homer, weather across Cook Inlet, tides, wind, cloud cover.....plenty of things could conspire to call off a trip. This was one of the things my relatives really wanted to do on their trip to Alaska so I was very disappointed for them. On the other hand, it might give them an excuse to come back to Alaska and visit again! As for me, I was looking forward to a really cool blog post with awesome pictures of bears, but I guess that will have to wait till some other relatives come to visit and give me an excuse to do this again!