It was fall in Fairbanks and after a quick trip to St. Louis for my brother’s wedding, Josh’s parents, sister, and his sister’s boyfriend came up to see us! It was an action packed week that was full of fun and photography! The first part of was heading off to Katmai National Park to see brown bears and fish. Luckily for us we saw both of them!
It was an early flight from Fairbanks, full of bag tags, carry-ons, and coffee (for me, hot chocolate!). We had a few mishaps during the security check. Josh brought a large mosquito spray in both bags he packed. He of course passed off his carry-ons to his sister’s boyfriend, so he was the one who had to go through an additional bag screening. The poor guy was also stopped before he got onto the plane about his checked bag, which just so happen to be the cooler Josh packed with ice. Who knew you couldn’t pack ice in the cooler!?
Either way we made it to Anchorage where we had to pick up our bags and re-check in! We chowed down our Famous Amos Cookies while viewing Lake Clark National Park and Volcanoes below us! It was a beautiful day for flying!
We made it to Katmai, graduated from bear safety school, and put up three tents for the six of us! We quickly found out one of our tents leaked… pretty badly… right on Hannah’s Boyfriend. The poor guy can’t catch a break! The water hadn’t gone down much since we were there in July, so most of the lower river was too high to cross without swimming. Another thing that hadn’t gone down was the number of bears! The river was littered with decaying red salmon and bears, lots and lots of brown bears!
Bear jams get pretty intense in September. The bears get full and like to lay right on the paths us humans need to cross over the bridge to the viewing platforms. The friendly rangers do their best to stay optimistic and allow people to safely view the bears but jams lasted as long as 4.5 hours while we were there. Sometimes bears pop out of the woods right behind you! Below is a photo of a group of fishermen who got a little too close!
The longest bear jam I experienced I was on the platform side of the jam. This was fortunate for viewing the bears! The closure was due to Beadnose (a sow with two spring cubs). The sow slept with her adorable cubs right in front of me and about 4 other people while another 20-30+ people were stuck on the other side. Unfortunately the rest of my family was some of those 20-30 people. The positive for them was that they were on the side where there was food… Another bear jam Patty and I were in we volunteered to have them boat us over to the other side! I had never been in a boat in Katmai! It was so fun, even if it was for just a few minutes!
Patty and I had some fun walking out to the lake to see the rest of the family fishing. They caught lots of salmon and rainbow trout! After the rest of the family went down river from us we stayed and waited for some bears to pass through. Luckily for us a sow and two cubs did come by. They played, fished, and then played some more. Our favorite volunteer ranger Carl was there to watch the show with us. It was such an incredible experience.
We watched salmon jump up the falls and bears rip up Salmon in the jacuzzi. It was mostly boars now at the falls with just a few sows and bear family groups passing through.
Along with the amazing bear viewing and salmon fishing we also got to see some other cool wildlife!
It is always an incredible time in Katmai National Park but nothing is like getting to experience it with family! Every trip to Katmai is different and this one was sure one to remember. To all the sunsets, sun, and salmon, bears and bonding – as always, I can’t wait to go back!
PS: All of our bags made it back & we had our Taco Tuesday! 🙂