Back in Brooks: Weekend in the Wilderness

I have gotten to go to Katmai National Park the last three years in July.  As soon as You land, you are immediately whisked away to a bear safety course.

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A bear walked by right during our course!

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It is pretty humorous that hundreds of high profile professional photographers and videographers travel near and far to Brooks to photograph and watch the bears and yet the video you watch on bear safety is from the 80s.

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Once you get there – whether it be in July on September – Bears are a plenty…

Brown Bear Katmai National Park July 2 2015 20 LOW Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

You get to see bears at the falls catching salmon… or missing salmon… ha

Brown Bear Katmai National Park July 2 2015 41 Crop LOW Watermark Blog
Beadnose! ©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

Bears Bickering…

Brown Bear Katmai National Park July 2 2015 2 LOW Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

We LOVE Katmai in July but we wanted to check out how the bears were in September!  We were in hopes of seeing large, voluptuous bears, cubs galore, and those awesome red salmon.  Due to a late salmon run the bears were slow in getting back to Brooks.  This didn’t bring us down!  Josh had bought me waders for my birthday for this very purpose. I mean I think he had hopes of me fishing too, but mostly to be able to walk the river to view its beauty and of course the bears!

Brown Bear 13 Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

We traveled in and along the river.  Numerous times we had to jump on the shore or across the fast flowing river or climb up on a cliff in order to avoid bears.

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While fighting these elements it was all worth it.  We were able to see cute fluffy cubs on the shore…

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402 with all 4 of her Spring Cubs ©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

AND in the river…

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Two of 402’s cubs! ©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

AND in a tree??

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One of 402’s cubs! ©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

Josh didn’t get much fishing done…

Brown Bear 48 Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

(That’s him in the orange behind the giant bear!)  The bears were more successful…

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This is Holly & her adopted cub! ©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

Josh did catch a few huge Sockeye Salmon!

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…and of course a few small salmon…

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The weather was kind of brutal, but that didn’t stop us.  At one point we got trapped in a “bear jam” for 3.hours in the blowing sideways rain.  Another interesting occurrence from this fall was that a large bull moose came right through camp.  It broke the electric fence, came on into the campground, munched some leaves and broke the fence in another area on its way out.  We were of course bear viewing on the river, missing the whole thing.  I thought it was pretty funny that a camp mostly comprised of photographers didn’t have their cameras ready and missed photographing the moose.

Brown Bear 74 Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography
Brown Bear 52 Watermark Blog
©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

We met so many cool people and enjoyed getting to see the bears twice in a summer. July and September in Brooks has quite a few similarities such as having the amazing bears and birds that make it special.  The bears are larger in September and darker.  The birds including the Bald eagles, sea gulls, mergansers, etc were also fatter but not really darker.

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©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

One large plus of September was the lack of day trippers.  There were less people in the lodge and less people traveling the paths.  At times we were all alone observing and photographing the bears.   The first night was hard walking from the lodge to the campground because we forgot that in September we have actual darkness!  The cold beer and friendly people helped us forget about walking back in the pitch dark without headlamps and camping in the rain.  The nice inside campfire didn’t hurt either!  Another successful trip back to Brooks in Katmai National Park!  Will we go back?  Absolutely!

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©Laura Lyn Gregory of Laura Lyn Photography

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