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Brooks Falls, Alaska
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Brooks Falls, Alaska on 07/29/2010 23:19:03 MDT Print View

First of all, this was not a backpacking trip. The primary goal was brown bear photography. Why do I have a trip report here? Because I had to use a lot of UL techniques to keep the gear weight down. I was going to be flying a couple of hops where the airlines want to charge fees for checked baggage. Then I was going to be flying a hop or two with a 50-lb baggage limit, with a penalty over that. My camera gear weight came up to about 45 lb., so I ended up with 6 nights of camping gear and food in about 10 lb. At first, I thought that there could be no butane or white gas fuel carried at all on the aircraft, and that I would need to use a wood stove. Then later I found out that they sell both fuels at the destination. This is part of Katmai National Park, and the NPS rangers do an excellent job of keeping humans separated from the bears, so there isn't much need for bear spray or bear flares. The brown bears there have such a salmon-rich diet that they don't care much for humans as a prey species.

The first day that I arrived there, I attended a 20-minute bear etiquette class, and then I was carrying my heavy load up to the campground. I thought I heard somebody or something running up behind me on the trail, so I started to turn around. A subadult brown bear sprinted past me! About five paces behind, a second subadult followed. Then about twenty paces behind them, an adult brown bear was chasing the first two. They just ran past me like I wasn't there. Fortunately, the campground has an electric fence around it.

Bugs were bad. The mosquitoes were there, but it was the biting flies that were really bad, and I have about a dozen infected bites to prove it. Bug net head bags work. DEET and Picaridin work some. Permethrin, I couldn't tell.

Although the weather was not really cold, it seemed pretty bad because of the wind and frequent rain showers.

When things seemed tough, the Brooks Lodge served 16-oz attitude adjustment.

On one day that I was photographing the bears at Brooks Falls, there were 29 bears in front of me, within 150 yards. On the next day, there was only one bear.


Christopher Konsowitz
(TheKonz) - F

Locale: Southeast
Sounds like a great trip on 07/31/2010 15:09:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for the trip report Bob.

That's amazing that those bears ran by you and didn't even act like you were a threat to them. How long where you up there??

What were the temps as I'm planning a trip next year to head to Alaska in July?

Also can you post some of the pictures that you took of the bears?


joseph Otoole
huh on 08/03/2010 20:38:26 MDT Print View

29 bears. huh. thats a lot.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sounds like a great trip on 08/04/2010 23:45:15 MDT Print View

Yes, the bears really did not care about humans as long as you did not approach them, and especially as long as you did not approach a sow bear with cubs. You are not going to get between two bears when they are fighting over a fish. Now, if it was the middle of August and the berry season was on, then you don't want to go roaming through the woods so much. You would not want to wander into a face-to-face confrontation with a bear. It would probably charge you out of surprise.

I was at Brooks Camp for six nights, which is longer than most fishermen or photographers. Most people stay three nights or so. I was there during the sockeye salmon run, and the overall temperatures were mild. Maybe 42F at the coldest. Maybe 70F at the hottest. However, I was sleeping in the campground, and it was pretty damp. Add some wind and overcast sky, and it was not ideal.

I shot about 75GB of images, so it will take me a while to get some bear shots up. Here is where they will show up:

On that web site, there is a link to the online photo gallery.


David Hankins
(hankinsohl) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Very Nice Photos on 03/11/2012 00:16:43 MST Print View

Those photos are very impressive Bob. I especially like the one with the bear cubs.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Very Nice Photos on 03/11/2012 00:24:18 MST Print View

Thank you, David.

I thought that I had gone up there with the prime target of the big male bears snatching the salmon. Then I got up there and decided that the sow bear with four cubs had more charisma.


Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Brooks Falls, Alaska on 03/11/2012 09:37:09 MDT Print View

I like the one of the Bear walking across the rocks with his back foot in the air.

Whimsical bear? Willy- nilly?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Brooks Falls, Alaska on 03/11/2012 12:41:27 MDT Print View

That bear had walked across those same rocks many times, so he knew exactly where to stand and where to step, even with widely spaced slippery rocks (covered in salmon slime). He was just taking a long step for that photo.