Visiting Redoubt Mountain Lodge

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There is only one parcel of private property located on Crescent Lake deep in the heart of Lake Clark National Park. (If you have not read about Lake Clark National Park you might want to read the previous blog post before reading this post.) Located on this five acre parcel of property is Redoubt Mountain Lodge. We found the lodge on the internet while searching for bear viewing opportunities early last spring. After reading about it we contacted them to make reservations. They had one opening for the 2016 season. We booked the last cabin for the two days that it was available. We wanted to stay at least four days, but at least we were able to get two days. We called and emailed several times hoping for cancellations, but it did not happen.

Redoubt Mountain Lodge is an all-inclusive lodge that has six cabins for guests - two adults per cabin. They do allow children to share a cabin with their parents. We shared the lodge with 12 other guests and the staff. The only other people who were in the area while we were there were people who flew in for a day trip of fishing or bear watching.

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Our adventure began when we boarded a floatplane for the hour flight to Crescent Lake. The only way to get to Crescent Lake and Redoubt Mountain Lodge is by floatplane. We took off from Lake Hood Seaplane Base (the world's busiest seaplane base) in Anchorage along with a young couple, Gordon and Laura, from Austin, TX. It was cold and rainy and the sky was thick with clouds. As we entered into the mountain we encountered some turbulance. Mary was in the copilot seat and had been taking ginger pills so she did not get motion sick. We were not able to see much on the flight. We flew over Crescent Lake before landing very gently on the water. Our plane was met by Ryan (the owner), Charlie (the bear dog), and several staff members. Ryan asked if we were hungry and invited us to the lodge for breakfast.

The lodge is composed of an entry way, a dining area, and a living area with a bar along one wall. Out front there is a deck with furniture and shelving for shoes. We ate breakfast while Ryan told us about the lodge. By the time we finished breakfast, our guides had arrived. Each cabin has a guide who helps plan the guests' daily activities and accompanies the guests anytime they leave the bear fence enclosed lodge area. We decided to spend the day fishing (both fly and spin) and looking for bears. I wanted to fish for silver (coho) salmon.

Our guide, Keegan, took us to a log building with clothing for the guests and gave us both a pair of waders, boots and a PFD (life jacket) to take back to our cabin and put on for the day. Our cabin sat right on the edge of the lake. It had a deck, two beds, a dresser and bathroom facilities (I would not call it a bathroom since everything was contained in the same room). Keegan told us the bears come right past our cabin because the bear fence is right next to it and there is no fence on the waterfront.

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After putting on long underwear, warm clothing waders, raincoats, boots and PFDs we met Keegan at a fishing boat and the three of us headed off down the nine mile lake to fish. The boat was loaded with fishing gear, drinks, snacks, bear spray, bug spray, and anything else we might want or need. Our first stop was about half a mile below the mouth of the river leaving the lake. Keegan got everything set up and we fished for about twenty minutes before Keegan said there must not be any silver salmon or any other fish there. Back in the boat we went to a spot in the lake where Dolly Vardens hang out. There has been a lot of rain in Alaska this summer and there were no beaches along the lake. Mary decided she did not want to fish anymore. Keegan and I jumped out of the boat into thigh deep water. I caught several Dolly Vardens ranging in size from about eight to twenty-two inches before it was time to head back to the lodge for lunch.

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Mary decided she did not want to do anything after lunch, so Keegan and I went fishing and bear watching. Keegan worked with me on fly fishing on moving water and I landed about a dozen more Dolly Varden before we headed out to find some bears. Many of the places where you can see grizzly bears in Alaska involve platforms over rivers where you stand with large crowds of people to watch the bears. Keegan and I took the boat to an area of the lake where the bears like to fish and sure enough, we found a mother bear and her cub. The mama bear was fishing and Keegan and I were the only humans around. Keegan rowed us to within about fifty feet of the bear and we watched for about forty minutes while she caught dinner (salmon) for her and her cub.

As we pulled up to the beach at the lodge other guides came out to see if we had a good afternoon and to help pull in the boat. We got back to the lodge just in time for me to shower and change clothes for dinner.

We had dinner with a dozen new friends (the same folks we had lunch with). Everyone talked about their day. I am sure everyone had a good day, but it seemed like I caught the most fish and Keegan and my bear sightings were the best of the day. I failed to mention that it rained all day and was really cold. Mary seemed to notice this more than me. She was freezing by the time we went in for lunch and refused to go back out after lunch. So she stayed in our lovely little cabin and read and napped.

That night I woke up about 3:15 AM - something big was outside our cabin walking around on land and in the water. It was too dark to see anything. When it started getting light around 6:00 AM the dogs started running and guides stared yelling. A grizzly bear was in the yard beside our cabin. The guides threw rocks and the dogs chased the bear to the other side of the electric fence.

At breakfast Keegan asked what we wanted to do. We decided on fishing, bear viewing, hiking and possibly some kayaking if the sun came up and it warmed up. We headed out to fish first. We had no luck at the place on the river so we headed back to the lake to catch a few Dolly Vardens. Mary did not want to get out of the boat and stand in thigh deep water so she stayed in the boat. I caught a few fish before Keegan's radio said there was a bear sighting and we decided to go see the bear. Sure enough there was a bear on the hillside eating blueberries. We watched it until lunchtime. The morning started out relatively warm, but as the day went on it seemed to get cooler than warmer.

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After lunch Mary wanted to go on a hike to pick berries. Keegan, Mary and I headed to the back of the Lodge property where the trail began and there sat a grizzly bear. My assumption was that we would not be hiking, but Keegan said not to worry he would throw some rocks at the bear and it would leave. Sure enough a few rocks later we were hiking. Mary was at bit uncomfortable knowing there was a bear in the area because there were a lot of berries and bears love berries. At first Mary wanted me to hike in front of her and then she decided the bear might sneak up behind her and she wanted to hike in front of me. She finally decided that the safest place for her was between Keegan and me. I think her concern was caused by the fact that Keegan and I can both out run her.

We picked some berries before Mary wanted to head back to the lodge. On the way back we talked about afternoon plans. We decided that all three of us would go look for bears and then we would drop Mary off at the lodge and Keegan and I would go try to catch some silver (coho) salmon again - no one had caught one that season. Keegan took us back to the place where we had seen the mama bear and cub the day before. This time there were three bears there, They were either a mama and two older cubs (grizzly bear cubs stay with their mother for two to three years) or three older cubs. We watched them for a while before Mary was ready to go back to the lodge. Keegan and I dropped Mary off and headed down the lake to catch a silver. We both fished, and fished and fished then we moved and fished some more. The water had risen higher in the lake and we were waist deep trying our best to catch just one silver salmon. We had to be back at the lodge at 6:30 for dinner at 7:00. We returned empty handed at 6:30. All the guides were at the beach waiting for a fishing report and we had nothing to report.

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Dinner that night included a birthday celebration for August birthdays which included Mary. She was given a special desert and a bear hug from a bear character. After dinner when everyone was walking out of the lodge a grizzly bear was standing in the yard. One of the bear dogs saw it and headed for the bear but instead of running the bear headed for the dog. A second dog came and the bear stopped, but did not retreat to the other side of the fence until the third dog came running.

That night, I awoke again around 3:00 AM to the sound of something large walking around our cabin. I am sure it was the bear back for a visit. The next morning was our final morning at the lodge. The sun was shining at least part of the time and I was pleased about possibly being able to see on the flight back to Anchorage, but I was not ready to leave the lodge.

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Our plane arrived with boxes of groceries for the lodge. Several boxes were sent out with us. The fight back to Anchorage was beautiful and there was no turbulance. Apparently the turbulance we experienced going to the lodge was more dangerous than we realized because of the narrow valley we pass through on the flight.

The lodge has a hot tub and sauna which I did not use because I never got back from my adventures in time to use them before dinner. Food and drink are available all day and there are games and books in the lodge, there is a scope on the deck and a fire pit in the yard (with marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers available) each evening. There are kayaks and paddle boards for taking out on the lake. Trekking poles are available for hiking. Everything including the logs to build the lodge and cabins has to be flown in. Garbage that can't be burned has to be flown out. Electricity is provided by generator. It is run from about 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM everyday meaning there is no electric at night. Each cabin has a propane heater.

If you enjoy the outdoors, this is a lodge for you, just be sure to make your reservations early.


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