My eye on the world, up high in my office overlooking the lake, is always a wonder-world. July had the bears strolling past my window, today it is a wily fox, and I know now why they are referred to as "wily." He has been pouncing on some sort of vole or mouse in the long grass for at least the last half hour. He does the most magnificent leap into the air and then a pounce that would make Nureyev envious. I can't really see that he has found a successful catch, but hunger does make him excitable. He has just wandered off to find more prolific bounty.
We have had one baby loon hatch on the lake this summer. Their record of survival is not great, probably two loons during our last 18 years, at least on the smaller lake. The larger lake has had a hatch of two loons this summer, so that is good news. The parents do an amazing job of feeding the little one and you can almost watch it grow daily. It has to be developed enough and ready to fly by the time winter winds blow and the threat of ice underneath is probably a perpetual reminder of the urgency at hand. Before they make their final winter flight to warmer territory, they have meetings. They really do. Other loons fly in to the little lake and there is much loon talk going on day and night. I always wonder what it is they are discussing, but it must be significant and contain important information, like who is flying with whom this year, who will be making it, how large a group, where they will stop and the ultimate destination. I know I'm being a bit anthropomorphic about it. . . but why not?
The loon eggs are threatened by almost everything. Bears make their rounds around the lake, always searching for something to eat, so does the fox, but the loon stays on the nest protecting as well as they can. Then there is the threat from the sky, with the Eagles constant observation and their keen vision, searching for that unguarded moment. The loon is all about alertness and communication with the others. Of course their call to each other is a part of the experience, what makes this wild part of Alaska so breathtakingly beautiful.
Every day is an experience for an angler and his guide. Each day is unique and for the observant person, there is always much to see. This year the lone wolf was an almost weekly occurrence, with guests coming home filled with wide eyed stories of viewing their first wolf in the wild. Some were lucky enough to capture a fleeting photo of a white wolf and in one instance, a small wolf cub, darting its head through the tall grasses looking to see what made those strange sounds, then disappearing quickly into the shelter of the tundra.
We are very fortunate to have several knowledgeable guides on our staff. If you want to know all about the flora and the fauna, Dave Goodhart, or Scott O'Donnell, will be sure to enlighten you. Every flower, tree, rock, lichen, bird and animal inspire them with a challenge, and if they can't identify something they will undoubtably bring a photo back to the lodge so they can make a positive identification. Their knowledge is pretty impressive and they both have incredible photos that are truly worth publishing a book. If you want to learn about gathering wild mushrooms, with the delectable Porcini, or King Bolete, being the number one lucky find, then these two guides are the ones you will want to go out with for a day. Not only are they two of the best guides in the business, but to have all that knowledge is a definite bonus. I know when we travel to East Africa, my favorite guides are the ones that can explain about all the various nuances of nature, not just the "big" things, but every small thing that has its place in nature.
Don't get me wrong, all of our guides have their areas of expertise, with fly-fishing, or Spey casting and professional instruction being at the top of the list. They all have their areas where they excel and having a new and different guide every day of your trip gives you a sampling of all their various styles and idiosyncrasies. Todd Emerson is patient and always makes sure his anglers have a good time, Jim Andras is back with us again, after a long absence, he and his lovely wife Rachel have started their own business and started a family. We also welcome some highly experienced new additions to our guide staff; Pieter Ras, Dax Messett and Kris Kennedy, each different in their personalities and technique, but each one proficient and knowledgeable in their own way. This is one of the reasons Royal Wolf Lodge has the reputation of being a leader in the field of guiding in Southwest Alaska. Some of our guides having well over 20 years of experience in this area.
This blog wouldn't be complete without mentioning our usual head guide, Mike McCune, who is taking a break this summer while he so graciously tends to his very sick mother in California. Our thoughts are with you Mike and we miss you. Hope to have you back on the RWL team again next summer.
Even though we had our late arrival of spring in Katmai, we are now getting some beautiful blue sky days, with conditions about as good as anyone could want. We continue to explore some private areas, with a couple creeks proving quite successful. Of course the normal rivers and streams are fairly consistent with the season, as we constantly search out the best waters for your trip. Having only 2 anglers with each private guide insures your experience will be the best it can be. Also, some of you will be interested to know that some streams are still providing some excellent dry fly fishing.
I think I am going to sign off for now, much too beautiful outside to be stuck inside at my computer. Thanks to all of you who have already visited this year and we look forward to all of you still coming this season. Some of our old friends that have been coming to RWL for too many year to count, as always, we look forward to seeing you again. We are full until the end of this season, but we are booking for 2013. I'm going for a boat ride on the home river now, see you next month. . . if not before.