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.
Like most visitors, Dale and I took a floatplane to Brooks Camp, which is in Katmai National Park and can only be reached by air or water.
Dale had been on a floatplane before, but this was my first time on such a unique form of transport, and it was very, very cool. When the experience starts out with a photo-op like this, it’s gotta be great, right?
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”
What they are, and how to survive ’em
“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.
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.
Where does one sleep when visiting a place that’s packed with brown bears?
In a tent, naturally!
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.
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.
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.
A look at the bear that stole my heart
“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”