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Amazing Alaska - Part 2; by Nathan Parsons

11 July 2011

Travellers

We walked alone, it takes about 15-20 minutes. At the point where the trail begins, you can wait at that point for other people to walk with as it can be quite a lonely feeling, as this is where bear trails are crossing all the time. Luckily we didn't see one until at the end and it was asleep, so cute, especially when it lifted his head and looked around.  At this point you walk a long board walk entering two large gates to keep the bears out.  This walk takes you to the two platforms and a park ranger who monitors the amount of people on the platform that overlooks the famous Brooks Waterfall and also to answer any questions.  We spent most of our time on the second platform as you can see the waterfall from there and there was more bear activity.  When it was our turn to go to the waterfall we saw the salmon jumping the falls and the large bear that was there was just as happy to sit in the pounding water from the falls to watch like us - now and then he took a dive, plus there was so many photographers and their big cameras. We soon moved back to the second platform and this was a good move as the bears really came alive, they were coming out from nowhere, walking right in front of us to the river.  It was getting exciting now as the bear at the falls finally caught a salmon.  In July the salmon turn a red-pink colour as they journey back to their spawning ground. 

After about two hours we decided to walk back to the bridge and as we were about to exit the board walk, some people we met told us that there were two bears on the trail. We waited a while scared stiff, and the next people didn't see any, so we braved it - "phew, no bears thank goodness!"  As we neared the bridge the park ranger said "Quick lots of bears here!" 

Katmai National Park & Preserve

Well Mama bear and her three cubs were across the river, the bears were swimming, walking the beach and we could see them up the river, and of course the bridge was closed.  The little cubs were standing on their hind legs looking around.  The ranger said that Mama bear had three cubs two years ago and they all survived.  The fishermen were trying to catch salmon, but had to keep backing up and crossing the river as the bears would pop out of nowhere. When the bears moved away from the bridge we were able to cross over and get some snacks from the lodge, have a bathroom stop and quickly walk back - you do not want to be held up on the wrong side of the bridge and miss your bus and float plane back to King Salmon. We were flying out at 6pm so we made it back in time to have Mama bear and three cubs come back with all the other bears and they put on a good display for us.  There was just so much to see and do that it is impossible to write what we had seen. It was a wonderful end to an amazing adventure in Bear Country.  On our way back to the float plane we had to wait for a bear to get off the road near where our float plane was waiting.  Nana wanted to take a photo of me on the beach with the float plane, and when I looked to the right the bear we saw on the road came out onto the beach.  He was so close and cuddly looking.

We took off at 6pm for King Salmon with me sitting in the rear of the Cessna and on a much smoother flight; we were transported back to the terminal by bus to catch our flight back to Anchorage.  The flight takes one hour and five minutes, we arrived in about 9pm.

Even though we were in rugged wilderness, the care we were shown from the pilots to the rangers was just amazing.  A once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.

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