Warning: This is to advice you that there are many photos on this page.  Together, Barbara and I, took 4,650 pictures.  When there is so much to see and so much going on it is hard to pick just a few photos for the page.  It took me many days to select the photos, do some minor editing and make the web page. 7:03am Breakfast started at 7 and we are very close to leaving the room to go eat.  Justin left the room right after 6am to have coffee and to give us some privacy. Today we get to do the River Walk.  We will put on waders and walk in the Brooks River.  The same river that is full of Salmon and Brown Bears eating the Salmon. 7:45am Justin leads us to the shed that they keep all the rental boots and waders in. 8:15am While we were being outfitted with chest waders and boots, two groups of Subadult Brown Bears came through the area, and the Rangers are now trying to figure out where they went.  The trails are closed but so far that is not really an issue as we are still getting ready. They came well within the 50 yards distance but there wasn’t anything we could do about it.  They really don’t seem to care that people are here at all. Note: Subadult is a term for Brown Bears that goes from the time their mother sends them on their way to when they reach sexual maturity.  Typically from ~2.5 to ~5.5 years old. The Subadults seem to gather together.  This is the first time they have been alone (always with their mother and maybe other cubs) and to me it seems they are lonely. 8:36am We are walking a different route than was planned.  The Subadults are in the area and on the trail we were going to take, so we are heading for the river by an alternate route. 8:42am We are walking on a path at the edge of the river.  We haven’t gotten in the water yet and we are stopped.  There is a Brown Bear fishing in the river on our side just in front of us.  We won’t get any closer but we have a plan if it moves towards us. https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/photosmultimedia/brown-bear-frequently-asked-questions.htm#7 Above is a link to the National Park Service, Katmai Park FAQs. https://explore.org/livecams/brown-bears/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls Above is a link to the webcams that monitor Brooks Falls and River.  Seems to only be active when Brown Bears are present. 8:54am Common Merganser family and some Brown Bears. 8:55am We are now walking, quickly, away from the river and into the brush.  There are two Subadult bears on the river that started to head right to where we were standing.  They have the right of way so we have to move. They were not at all interested in us.  They just wanted to walk the river near us. We are backing up again because another bear, an adult female, looks like she wants to use the same trail we are.  We use the trails because it is easier to walk, which is exactly why the bears use them too. 9:00am It looks like we are clear to try to access the river again. 9:04am We just saw the bear stand (tree stand/deer stand) that Justin used when we was employed here as a Ranger. 9:08am Greater Yellowlegs sharing the river. 9:10am We are crossing a waterway heading to a small island/sand bar to make way for a Subadult that is heading our way. 9:14am A Sow with 4 Cubs.  Our river walk guide, Nick, said that we probably don’t have to worry about the mother, but one of the Cubs could get curious and with Momma behind him they can get pretty brave. 9:27am Leaving our little sand bar and heading for a different sand bar. 9:32am Immature Bald Eagle on the top of a tree.  The guide tried to point out 3 Cubs in a tree, they were very tough to see, but easier to spot in the photos. 9:40am We can now see the platforms at the falls.  I bet the people on the platforms are thinking we are total nuts for walking in the river with all these Brown Bears.  I know that is what I would be thinking if I was watching us from the platforms. We are crossing the main part of the river and heading upstream to another sand bar.  The current is pretty stiff here and the walking is difficult.  Just to make things more interesting the bottom is uneven and covered in loose rocks.  The guide had us pair up and hold hands for safety… hoping the one losing balance doesn’t pull the other in. We made our way to the river bank on the other side of the river. 9:44am The Ranger on the platform is watching us walk in the river. 9:47am Bear’s eye view of the falls.  We are in the river standing a little downstream from the falls seeing what the bears see as they walk the river towards the falls. 9:56am A Black-billed Magpie is in a nearby tree and there is a Brown Bear watching us from the woods.  The thought is that it is the mother of the 3 cubs in the tree.  The cubs are very hard to see,  but I can see the tree move in ways not caused by the wind. 10:05am We moved off the shore to give the sow on the shore more room and to get different views of the falls. 10:07am A female Brown Bear just walked out of the woods and is huffing.  She seems to be looking for a lost cub.  She is making a strange sound that I have no idea how to describe. 10:18am We see what looks like a couple (of people) that rented waders and are also walking the river, but alone.  No guide. An Osprey flies over. 10:26am It seems the huffing Sow found her cub now she may be trying to get her treed cubs down. 10:39am Subadult in foreground with huffy Momma and three cubs behind. 10:52am While we were all gathered on a sand bar we had a Subadult bear walking right towards us.  We were kind of stuck and it was moving at us faster than we could have retreated.  We just gathered up tight (to look as large as we could) and Justin and Nick stood their ground between us and the bear. The bear would start to get closer and Justin and Nick would yell at it and it would stop and look at us.  There was nothing in its actions that seemed threatening or aggressive.  I really think it was lonely and wanted company. While the standoff was going on another Subadult was walking the river next to us and towards the first one.  When our troublemaker Subadult saw the second one it left us, walked over to the other bear, they did a quick smell of each other, a touch of mock fighting and they wandered off together.  A happy, non-bloody, ending! Chris said “We had first row seats”.  It could not have been better. 10:58am We see some fishermen walking the river with their fishing poles. 11:01am A Sow with two cubs on the other shore walks into the river and starts fishing. 11:04am Semipalmated Sandpiper and it appears that Mom managed to catch a salmon, but one of her cubs stole if from her. 11:07am We are trying to move out of the way of more bears.  It almost seems like we are surrounded. 11:12am View of our cabin area from the river.  Can’t see the cabins that we are staying in, only the roof on the left side of the photo.  There are people gathered watching the same bears we are watching. 11:14am We watch as a Sow with Cubs moves into an area being fished by a Subadult.  Once the Sow gets close the Subadult leaves the river to join two other Subadults on shore. We seem to be surrounded by bears! As we are walking the river we start to hear people calling “Hey Bear”, “Here Bear”.  Even though it sounds as if they are calling the bears in they are just making noise so as not to sneak up on any. 11:24am We are now on dry land walking through the brush heading back to the cabins. 11:26am An almost mature Bald Eagle flies overhead (note dark tail and mottled head). 11:31am We are back at the lodge and we are being hosed off by Nick to remove any mud that might be stuck on our waders and boots. We have completed a river walk with the Brown Bears of Brooks Falls.  I never would have guessed that would be on the agenda when we booked the tour.  It is an optional experience.  But what an experience. 11:45am Shots of bears from our cabin area.  Some are in the river but some are in the grass just below our cabin. Noon Lunch at the lodge.  Buffet style.  Hamburgers, Reindeer Hot Dogs (Reindeer meat, pork with spices… had a touch of a spice bite to them) and all the trimmings. Then we hit the gift shop.  Bought some souvenirs, took a short walk around the lodge area before heading back to our cabin. Because we had such a great morning on the river walk and the fact that the platforms tend to be busy and crowded during the day, Justin thought we should just relax around the lodge and do the platforms after dinner when the people thin out. 2:03pm I am sitting on the deck enjoying the beautiful day at Brooks Lodge while Barbara takes a short nap. 3:47pm While relaxing on the front deck of our cabin a man, standing at the top of the rise from the river, looks at me, points into the grass and mouths ‘Bear’.  I wander over to him and see a large bear not far from us.  As we watch a cub sits up next to her and then another one peaks out from behind her. As I am trying to get some photos a couple of Rangers come over.  As I start to move for a better angle one of the Rangers tells me to “stop right there”.  There is a bear (as Subadult) in the grass real close.  I didn’t even see it walk up.  That is why the Rangers appeared… they were following two Subadults through the camp and lodge grounds. The Subadults wander off, followed by the Rangers.  An immature Bald Eagle lands in tree and is harassed by the local birds.  I go back to the room. 5:30pm Dinner time.  We got to the dining room just as the meal was starting.  The choices were NY Strip Steak or Salmon.  The steaks were large so Barbara suggested we split one.  Halfway through the meal she decided she didn’t want any steak.  The steak was tough so she really wasn’t missing much.  Dessert was cinnamon cake, peanut butter mousse or peach cobbler. 6:20pm After dinner we are all heading back to the platform.  First we go back to our rooms to collect our photo equipment and see a couple of Subadults wrestling in the grass. Heading to the trail to the platforms we see a Black-billed Magpie on the roof of one of the buildings. 6:35pm We were on our way to the curve and the bridge when we got stopped by Rangers.  There is a bear on the trail so we have to wait. 6:55pm While we were standing, waiting to cross the pedestrian bridge, the Ranger on the curve side was talking to the Ranger on the platform on the other side by radio.  The platform Ranger was saying all was clear, that we could cross, then, “Oh, crap”, the bear turned and was heading back to the bridge. The bear that was keeping us off the bridge decided to come ashore on our side of the river.  The Ranger was pushing us back from the curve area (the ‘curve’ is the section of walking trail, on the lodge side of the bridge, just before you get to the bridge) and directing us back in the direction of the lodge. As the bridge had been closed for a little while a good number of people were gathered waiting.  We were all following direction and walking away from where we wanted to go when there was some shouting.  A couple of Subadults were running (and I really do mean running) thru the woods.  They were headed right for our large group of people.  They came out of the woods right at the leading edge of our party and stopped.  I’m not sure who was more surprised, the bears or the people.  I think some of the people could have reached out and touched a bear.  The bears, after a couple of moments of confusion, headed off down the trail in the direction of the lodge. Finally, twenty minutes after we got to the curve, we were allowed to cross the bridge. 7:22pm As we are walking the elevated boardwalk to the platforms there are a couple of bears directly under us. 7:25pm We are now at the platform 7:55pm Bead-nose and her two cubs.  The bear with 3 cubs, one light, one medium and one dark is called Grazer. 8:25pm We walk over to the Riffles platform for a different perspective.  Once there, we find not much of interest and head back to the Falls Platform. 9:22pm We, and most of the people at the falls platform, are heading out and back to the lodge. 9:34pm We stop on our walk back to the lodge for some photos of a Red Squirrel.  There is still plenty of daylight! 9:52pm We are back on the lodge grounds and we see many of the workers dressed in costume.  July 31 is a celebration for them.  It marks the end of the really busy season and the nearing of the end. 10:15pm We are trying to do our preliminary packing.  In the morning we will be leaving Brooks Falls and heading back to Anchorage.
July 31, 2017: Day 13
“Leave only footprints, Take only memories’ (…and maybe some pictures)
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Alaska Vacation
July 19, 2017 to August 2, 2017 The Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Photo Safari Barbara & John on Natural Habitat Adventures
July 31, 2017 Day 13
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