I was only six feet away from a giant of 800 pounds of brown fur with massive feet and a jaw that would do massive damage. However, I used to be ready to shoot this huge teddy bear, and is safely available far away.
It was exhilarating and the kind of amazing wildlife experience you will only get at Katmai Park in southeast Alaska.
There are about 2,200 Alaskan brown bears sleeping in this active volcanic landscape that surrounds Mount Katmai and thus the Valley of Ten Thousand Smocks. They are related to Grizzly Bears located elsewhere in America. Where to stay in Alaska tripline.
They remain hibernating for seven months out of the year and lose tons of weight during that phase. In fact, they wake up hungry and just in time for the summer months when salmon return to Alaska’s rivers in the millions. This indicates that these bears are fed so well that they quickly become swollen and sometimes grow to be the most important in the world.
So, the simplest time to be around is during the summer months once you can see the skillful way they hunt and feed their young and teach the cubs how to hunt.
They can be seen in the Brooks River and more in Brooks Falls in Katmai Park as they catch salmon in June and July and silver salmon in late August and September.
Get an adventure by itself. I had to catch a small four-seater plane, so the floating Beaver that I used to fly over the emerald green stretch of southeast Alaska ended up with a smooth landing on the comfortable, glassy Nknick Lake that finally reached a sandy beach at Brooks Camp.
If I used to be nervous about getting to Katmai Park, I used to be more nervous about getting there on a small plane with just one engine.
I knew any adventure in Alaska, even in the summer, would be weather-bound. I used to be there in late July and was lucky because it was warm, partly cloudy with blue spots peeking through the clouds.
I couldn’t wait to get the camera out of my bag and keep going but I first had to attend “Bear School” by Park Ranger before continuing my journey to the bears. This lasted about half an hour and we learned about the bears and their habits and especially how to keep all of your parts intact. Participation principles are simple and straightforward to follow. The testament to this is that I still have all of my parts even after a very close encounter on the road.
In any case, bears are so accustomed to humans and have so much to eat into this park that you can simply meet those large carnivores more than anywhere else.
Once I had my ‘bear’ pin, I was allowed to order well-worn tracks to the three viewing platforms to peek at the animals. Their golden or dark brown fur looks amazing.
Maybe I got 50 yards down the woodland trail once Park Ranger stopped me and the other newcomers and told us we might need to wait as a bear passes. This common occurrence during “Bear Jam” may result in many tourists waiting to continue their hike to the simplest viewing platform at Brooks Falls about 1.2 miles from Brooks Camp. I’ve seen Rangers constantly patrolling most of the tracks to keep everyone safe.
As we crossed the wooden bridge to the lower river platform, the wooden bridge swayed over the slowly flowing waters of the lower river. This area was quiet and peaceful, so the water is so clear that I could see the bright red boot as they rested before their downstream trek to the Gloves Trail of a hungry predator.
Once I came across the most path to the narrow but well-traveled trail to the falls, I started singing to let any furry friends close that I was there. Bears frequent parabolic lanes and roads as often as people neutralize Katmai and have the right path.
Before seeing the waterfall, I could hear the rustling water and the raging sound. The bears were hunting.
The viewing platform at Brooks Falls is well worth a stroll for a great view of Alaskan Brown Bears Salmon Fishing, only 25 to 50 yards. Most of the pictures you’ve seen were probably taken of bears catching salmon in their mouths.
During my evening visit to the falls, I saw almost 20 different bears at any given time. Several times I saw a lamb (a female bear) and its cubs stopped to hunt as well.
This place does not need to be spectacular and offers many viewing opportunities. I had bears traveling across the viewing platform only six feet away. A mother and her three cubs decided to take a nap right below the stage.
A large man, named Lefty, had the simplest fishing spot. I watched him catching salmon every jiffy. He would rapidly eat the brilliant redfish and return for more. He had to earn the simplest spot to fish and has the scars to prove it like claw marks on his hip and chest and half a left ear missing. Lefty caught numerous fish that he had to require an opportunity and just sit down in the water to rest.
Another bear appeared to just enjoy the Jacuzzi like waters at the rock bottom of the falls. I sometimes got so busy shootings images I forget to prevent and just watch this amazing ritual of nature.
The Falls viewing platform can get crowded during the height visitor times which start late morning and last to mid-afternoon when most of the tourists fly in on day trips from Anchorage, King Salmon, or Homer.
The best opportunity to ascertain tons of bears is to remain at Brooks Camp either within the lodge or campground. I spent two nights here and it had been worthwhile as my best experiences were early within the morning or late within the afternoon when there have been fewer people around.
One morning, I had the Falls platform to myself. That was once I saw my first bar fight. A mother with three cubs challenged a young male adult for his spot at the falls. She and her opponent got abreast of their hind legs and with huge claws out, roared at one another and bared their large teeth. Three cute little cubs watched from nearby. the feminine prevailed and therefore the young male moved off.
I almost missed the sign for the Mid-river platform. I used to be thrilled to ascertain another sow with dark brown yearling cubs working the riffles for bright red salmon because the morning sun broke through the clouds to illuminate the river.
You can also experience the desolation and wonder of the Valley of 10,000 smokes while at Katmai to ascertain a wondrous area left by the most important eruption of the last century. I missed this experience as i used to be too busy shooting bear pictures.
Getting to Katmai park
Getting to Katmai park isn’t difficult but it’s a foreign location that will only be accessed by plane or boat. most of the people fly there on regularly scheduled commercial flights (PenAir and Alaska Airlines) into King Salmon (AKN) airport from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) then take a 30-minute floatplane trip to the park. Check for cheap airline tickets to Alaska.
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