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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Seward, Alaska: The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964

In January, Dale and I experienced our first real earthquake, so now is as good a time as any to talk about a much more famous quake and one of the most significant events in Alaskan history—the Great Earthquake of 1964.

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Seward, Alaska: Our first earthquake

tsunami_hazard_sign_blue
Source: USGS

 

The shower doors clattered obnoxiously, waking us up.  Wondering what our neighbors could be doing to at this ungodly hour, Dale climbed out of bed and wandered into the living room.  Even in the dark, he could tell that the blinds were shaking.   This was no noisy neighbor; we were having an earthquake.

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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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Katmai National Park’s Otis the bear: Celebrity, tough guy, and ambassador

Brooks Falls bear--Otis

It doesn’t take long to figure out why Bear 480—better known as Otis—is one of Katmai’s most popular bears, a celebrity on the Explore.org Bear Cams and a reason why people make the trip to Katmai National Park.

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Katmai National Park: My favorite bear

A look at the bear that stole my heart

Brooks Falls bears
My favorite bear (left), in her favorite spot, at the lip of Brooks Falls

 

“That girl’s gonna be the first female president,” I said, and Dale laughed.  He understood what I was talking about.

We were on the Brooks Falls platform, observing the bears.  The falls provide the best fishing on the river, and, while the occasional mom and cubs passed through, the area was dominated by big boars.  Amidst all of them, however, stood a little female, waiting patiently at the lip as the salmon jumped around her.   Continue reading “Katmai National Park: My favorite bear”

Katmai National Park: Bear Fishing Strategies

Brooks Falls brown bear

 

The brown bears of Katmai National Park like their fish fresh, juicy, and in large volumes.  The biggest males eat between 80-90 pounds of food every day, and much of it is in the form of salmon.

Obviously these bears are experts at what they do—catching fish.  They start young, learning fishing techniques from mom, and then branch out from there.   Some bears have successfully learned a variety of methods, while others employ one or two that work for them.  Here’s a look the fishing styles that we observed at Brooks Camp.

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