Musings of an everyday woman . . .

Reflections on living and loving life . . .

Sunday Stroll: Walk with the Grizzlies January 25, 2009

Filed under: Adventures,Living Green,Sunday Stroll — everydaywomanusa @ 2:23 pm
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I have to say the scenery hasn’t changed much around here in the past few weeks.  We’re still blanketed by snow and spring seems to be a long way off.  So . . .to spice things up a bit, I’m uploading some photos of a fabulous walk we took to see Grizzlies at Brooks Falls, in Katmai, Alaska, a few summers back.

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I have to admit up front that my idea of a relaxing vacation is laying on a warm beach somewhere, soaking up the sun with a Pina Colada (albeit “virgin”) in my hand.  I never dreamed that I’d be walking in the wilds of Alaska somewhere to get as close as possible to Grizzly Bears!  No, this was my dear husband’s dream–and now that I’ve survived it–I have to say it was the most awesome adventure we’ve ever been on!

The bears (boars) in the picture above are fighting–and I mean FIGHTING and GROWLING–over a blood-red salmon that was swimming up stream.

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In order to have a chance of seeing these magnificent beasts fishing in the wild, you have to know where and when to go.  My DH did his research because we saw plenty of bears–closer up than I’d ever imagined.  There’s a six-week period (mid-July to mid-August) when the salmon are swimming up stream to spawn through Brooks Falls in Katmai.  You have to plan years in advance to book your opportunity to walk–and sleep–in bear country!  (Note: this is where famed Timothy Treadwell–aka “Grizzly Man” met his demise!)

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Silly me–I was expecting a nice park ranger to lead the way through the woods to the falls.  Once you’ve completed a “Bear Safety Course,” you’re on your own.  Needless to say, I was making lots of noise, ringing my “bear bells,” as instructed, so that I didn’t surprise any bears along the path.  As our three grown children would joke along the way that those were really “dinner bells,” and they really wouldn’t have to run that fast; they would just have to out run Mom!  Very funny!

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With all the “trash talk,” it was interesting to note that even our big, 6’4″ guys were scared sh – – less, when a huge boar raced by them on a lonely path in the woods and when my DH was greeted face-to-face when he left our cabin one morning to make his way to the “mess hall.”  Never saw him retreat so quickly!  (We weren’t allowed to have any food in our cabins so as not to attract any wild visitors.)

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All in all, the views were breath-taking!  Here are some “Sub-adult” bears playing in the river.

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Here’s a mother giving her triplet cubs instructions to stay close while she ventures out for some leftover scraps of salmon that float down the river from the huge boars up on the falls.

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Mamma Bear on the look-out for salmon–and encroaching males.

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OK, I’m backing off now, giving this bear the right-of-way.

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The bears were incredibly healthy, very well-fed with protein- and fat-rich salmon.  We saw two sets of triplet cubs, which was a sign of very good maternal nutrition.  I was always hoping they were more interested in the salmon than us.  Unlike Timothy Treadwell, I would NOT “tread” in Katmai (or as he called it, “The Grizzly Maze”) in lean times.

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When we were actually on the platforms near the falls, I felt pretty safe . . . the problem was GETTING there as you walked through bear country and it is their territory!  There were always bears fishing in the falls, as you can see behind us in this photo, but they were also in the thick woods along the way–and in the camp.

I know my hubby would love to go back and I would highly recommend it for other bear enthusiasts!  As for me, I’m a bit “chicken,” and I’ve already lived through it once . . .

To see who else is “strolling” this Sunday, visit the Quiet Country House.

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10 Responses to “Sunday Stroll: Walk with the Grizzlies”

  1. That was a great trip! Like you, I still can’t believe we actually did that!

  2. Ruth Says:

    Abbie–I know! Between the grizzlies and rafting the Colorado River, I guess I’m more adventuresome than I seem! Of course, I never would have tackled these things on my own without your dear Dad to push me, Ab! I’ve never really considered myself to be a real risk-taker . . .

    It’s always fun to share some of these stories and pictures with my students so they don’t think their teacher is an “old fuddy-duddy!”

  3. margaret Says:

    Ok, wow, these are among the best bear photos I’ve ever seen! How lucky you are!

  4. Ruth Says:

    Thank you, Margaret! What was amazing to me was that photographers from “National Geographic” were beside me, taking the same photos as me! It’s almost surreal; sometimes I can’t even believe I was there . . . that close to magnificent bears!

  5. Aisling Says:

    Wow, just breath taking. How amazing to be there with the bears! Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

  6. Cloudhands Says:

    Oh, my goodness. I am impressed. What a wonderful opportunity. To see bears not behind a caged wall. Did you breath at all while you were there? Husbands have been know to take us into the daring and exciting from time to time. Aren’t we glad they do.

  7. Aisling and Cloudhands~Thanks so much for your kind comments. Yes, I did have to consciously remember to BREATHE! Cloudhands, you’re so right about husbands taking us into the daring and exciting and I, too, am so glad they do! I definitely believe that opposites attract; my hubby is spontaineous and I pretty much like to be in control, and I think we complement each other! Thanks for “strolling” with us!

  8. Jessica Says:

    These photos are incredible. I cannot believe you got so close to the bears. You should enter the National Wildlife Federations wildlife photography contest. I really think you could win!

  9. You’re too kind, Jessica, but thanks! Taking photos is one of my favorite things to do. Now that my kids are all grown-up, I’ve resorted to taking picture of wildlife . . . and I’m LOVING the flexibility of digital images!

  10. […] walked with Grizzlies in Alaska . . . yes, I really can’t believe that I did that, […]


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