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Amazing Alaska - Part 1; by Nathan Parsons

11 July 2011

Travellers

Recently valued clients of McIntosh Travel,  Linda Parsons and her 12-year-old grandson Nathan Parsons, took an amazing journey to Alaska to check out  "Bear Country" - Katmai National Park and Preserve.  This is Nathan's fabulous story .....

On July 11 2011 my Nana and I boarded a Pen Air flight at 07.30hrs from Anchorage to King Salmon. It was the start of a very exciting day to Bear Country. We were going to Katmai National Park and Preserve, world famous for Alaskan Brown Bear viewing, accessible only by air and wilderness in its rawest form.

Upon arrival at King Salmon we were greeted by staff from Katmai Air where we were transported to the river to catch our float plane and fly to Brooks Lodge. On arrival at the river we were weighed on large scales along with any handbags and cameras we were carrying and then told to wait inside a small room and our names would be called out according to weight. Luckily I got to fly with Nana as "oh it was a scarey ride!". It took about 20 minutes, I couldn't look out the window, but Nana said the landscape was amazing and the lakes were emerald green and blue as a result of volcanic ash and glacial particles suspended in the water. The national park is located at the northern end of the Alaska Peninsula on the Shelikof Strait and is rich in a geological background. We were entering "The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes", a 40 square mile, 100-700 foot deep ash flow deposited by Novarupta Volcano in 1912.

We had a perfect landing on Brooks Lake. We were greeted by park rangers and mosquitos the size of blowflys. We were advised to put all our food and drink in a big out-house or eat it now. We then had our bear briefing on proper behaviour around bears. We were told to talk loudly and if we see a bear to stop talking and back up and allow it space to pass, about 50 yards - "yeah right!"

Katmai National Park & Preserve

We were given instructions on the three platforms, the 1.5 mile walk to the waterfall and about bear jams at each end of the floating bridge which leads to the lodge. We then boarded a small bus which took us to the first platform. The ride in the bus was a good move, as depending on where your float plane lands it actually is quite a walk to the lodge and as you are walking alone you may meet bears walking too.  As Alaska weather can change dramatically it is good to layer your clothing, a raincoat is good too. The lodge is in a remote area accessible only by plane, hence there are not many comforts, no flush toilets or running water and no medical care. The pristine wilderness compensates for leaving civilisation behind.

When we arrived at the bridge there was not much bear activity so we crossed over and walked to the lodge. You can purchase a buffet style lunch for $20.00. From the lodge you can see beautiful Mt Katolinat and Naknek Lake or take a walk along the beach - but remember bears do also. Or you can take the simple pleasure of relaxing by the fire in the lodge. If you are interested in fishing on the Brooks River, rods and waders can be rented at the lodge.

We decided to walk back across the bridge to the first platform, there was still not much bear action so it was off to the waterfall.                                             ....continued on in Part 2

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