S and I spent a week in Alaska to celebrate our wedding anniversary this year! We took the trip at the best time of the year and it was so amazing I can't wait to already go back. We flew in from Chicago to Anchorage, connecting in Seattle. We finished dinner at the Seattle airport at a little vegetarian joint called Floret. We took an uber from the airport to the airbnb we stayed at.
Day 1 in Alaska, we took a flight to Katmai National Park. Katmai can only be accessed by plane or boat and we took a plane ride with an outfitter for a full day trip to Brooks Camp at Katmai. We had a very early start to the day - we were at the airport at 6.30! Thankfully our airbnb host had packed us a brown-bag breakfast to go. Best part was being the co-pilot on this flight :)
The first leg of the trip was to Kulik lodge & it was just an amazing journey over the mountains and water bodies. For days after the trip, I kept dreaming of flying through these mountains!
At Kulik, we switched to a sea plane for the much shorter ride to Brooks Camp.
We had to sit through a short intro video and lecture at the visitors center by a park ranger and off we went to see the one thing that was on everyone's mind - Grizzlies!
And this bear was right under the bridge at the end of a 1 mile trail! Breeding season yielded him a lot of the scars & injuries you can see here.
We could already see a couple of bears at Brooks Falls as we approached. Here is a link to a webcam to watch these bears.
It was interesting to see the dynamics of the various bears that made it the river when we were there. The guy in the foreground made sure he only allowed certain individuals to fish when he was on watch. A few of the younger ones that came by just took one look at who was in the river and took off. A few that dared to step in the water were chased off without mercy.
We saw a few of them trying to catch the salmon from upstream, though most of them were wading the pools by the falls to catch fish.
From the viewing platform, this bear was at most 10-15 feet away from us. Glad we were up on a platform :) We took a quick lunch break back at camp - a buffet with vegetarian options. We almost ran into a bear on our way to the lodge - a quick warning from a park ranger who heard us talking loudly on the trail helped avoid a head-on! (we did pay attention to the intro video at the visitors center)
This is the only bear we saw catch & eat a fish when we were watching! We also saw a lot of salmon and trout, magpies, a merganser swimming with 12 chicks (one of them on its back). We were so focused on watching out for bears, we mostly ignored everything else.
We left Brooks Camp a little after 3.30, both exhilarated and exhausted. All of us on the plane other than the pilot slept most of the way back. Ended the day with a quick dinner of dal and rice at Namaste Indian restaurant in Anchorage.