Trapped in a bathroom by bears: The Brooks Camp experience

A note about this post, which describes several bear encounters we had during our 2017 trip to Brooks Camp, Alaska:  I published a shorter version about a year ago.  Since then, I’ve contemplated doing some freelance writing, so I took an online writing course.  I removed the post from our blog and used it as my submission, and, with some helpful feedback from the instructor, I fleshed out the article, creating something that might encapsulate the Brooks Camp experience for the average newspaper or magazine reader.  In the end, the instructor felt it was ready for submission and gave me the contact info for several publications that I could submit it to…but I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t give away ownership of a piece that I love so much, a piece that describes my favorite Katmai experience.  So here it is, rewritten and with A SECOND bathroom-related bear encounter for your enjoyment! 

 

We watched through the windows as four bears, a mother and cubs,  strolled up the path.  These were Alaskan coastal brown bears, one of the largest land carnivores in the world, and Dale and I had just ducked into the bathrooms to avoid them.  

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Adak, Alaska: Eagles amongst the ruins

We’ve just returned from Adak, Alaska, a place that is equal parts rotting civilization and pristine wilderness.  You wouldn’t think the two could co-exist, but they do, in Adak, as evidenced by the the 300 or so bald eagles that call the island home.  Not only did we see them soaring high in the air and gliding near the water’s surface, but they also perched on the eaves of  decaying buildings and rusted street signs.  It was both beautiful and jarring.

Adak, Alaska
A collapsed home or barracks, complete with bunkbed frames

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Homer to Seldovia, Alaska: A whale of a trip across Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay, Alaska
Gull Island, with the Kenai Mountains as a backdrop

In a recent post, we talked about our trip to Seldovia, a remote town that can only be reached by air or water.  There are several options for getting there, and we chose the Seldovia Wildlife Tour, a sightseeing excursion with Rainbow Tours.

This boat tour, which was seven hours round-trip from Homer to Seldovia and back, took us across Kachemak Bay, an incredibly rich habitat that supports many wildlife species, from sea birds to sea otters, seals, and porpoise as well as whales.  And the view—of the glacier-carved Kenai Mountains—is spectacular.

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Seward, Alaska: Alaska SeaLife Center

Harbor seal, Alaska SeaLife Center
Harbor seal, Alaska SeaLife Center

From the parking lot outside of the Alaska SeaLife Center, one can hear a variety of sounds; the sea birds screech and call, and the sea lions, if they’re outside, bark raucously.  Eagles, which often perch on posts outside the center, may add their plaintive call to the din.

All manner of sea creatures have found a home in Seward’s SeaLife Center, and the cacophony outside the complex gives visitors a preview of what’s to come.  We became members shortly after moving to Seward and have enjoyed frequent visits ever since, looking in on the residents and learning more about the amazing place in which we live.  The SeaLife Center does important work, not only educating the public through the state’s only public aquarium but also undertaking marine research and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

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Katmai National Park: Bear 410, queen of the bear jam

Brooks Camp, Bear 410
Sleeping beauty

No blog series about the bears of Katmai would be complete without a profile of 410.

Any bear at Brooks Camp has the capacity to cause a human traffic jam (see our recent post), but Bear 410 (nicknamed “Four Ton” because she’s one of the largest females in the park) goes above and beyond.  So renowned is her ability to shut things down that she’s been called “queen of the bear jams.” Continue reading “Katmai National Park: Bear 410, queen of the bear jam”

Katmai National Park: Brooks Camp bear jams

What they are, and how to survive ’em

Brooks Camp, bears at the Point
Bears at the Point, (probably) unaware of the disruption they’re causing

“Point, you’re going to want to retreat; Point, you need to retreat.”

During the day, park rangers stood sentry at various places throughout Brooks Camp, monitoring bear activity and sharing details with one another via radio.  We were on the Lower River Platform, and the ranger had his binoculars trained on a spot across the Brooks River known as the Point.  He was letting his counterpart know that a bear was headed their way.

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Katmai National Park’s Zen Momma: 409 Beadnose and her cubs

We stood on the Lower River Platform one afternoon and watched a family of bears for some time.  The mama, a beautiful sow with blonde ears and a distinctive, upturned nose, occasionally lifted her head to check her surroundings and then returned to napping.  One of her cubs lay beside her.

The other cub, however, had no intention of taking an afternoon nap.

Katmai National Park--Beadnose and cubs
Mom. Mom. Look at me. Mo-om.

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Katmai National Park: Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Hey, Otis, it wasn’t always about you.

Katmai National Park is known for its brown bears, but the origins of the park are centered around something entirely different—the volcano Novarupta, which erupted in 1912.  It was the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 2oth century, and as part of our visit to Brooks Camp we took a tour to the site of the devastation, a place now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

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Katmai National Park: Bear fight!

151 Walker and 503 play fighting

“Oh, sounds!”

It was September 9, and we were on the Brooks Falls Platform, where two Katmai Park Rangers, Dave and Becca, were broadcasting a “Play-by-Play” streaming video for the Bear Cams audience, with Becca narrating the activity.  Dale and I were listening as well, hoping to learn a little more about Brooks Falls bears.

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