January 15, 2012

Katmai Brown Bears - Arrival at Brooks Camp

Wasn’t the bear from the welcoming committee a nice start to our adventure? All of us were howling at the sight. Later on, I noticed from the vantage point of the overlook platform nearest the lodge, a bear would venture out toward any incoming floatplanes. It was like - “Hey, more tourists are coming to take our pictures!”

Once the bear plodded off further down the beach, we disembarked. Oh, how I hate those tiny little stairs on the plane! But the burly guys help steady me so I wouldn’t accidently dismount into the lake. As the bags got unloaded, we looked at the beautiful distant mountain views and began to pinch ourselves.  

We had arrived at the famous Brooks Camp!  

First things first. We were quickly hustled off to the ranger’s station right up from the beach. It was time for a bear safety and orientation class! We sat through a video and lecture by a “Ranger Rick”, which drilled into us the rules of how we were supposed to behave around the bears. This area is known to possess one of the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world. We were also visiting in July, which is a peak month for visitors and bears. So the park was going to be crowded with photographers and fishermen. And sure enough, we were packed in like sardines in the classroom. Hmm, that’s probably not a good metaphor since bears are so fond of fish…  

After our training session was completed, we headed off to Brooks Lodge for a hearty lunch. A huge rack of antlers on the main lodge building greeted us. Some online photos of Brooks Lodge can be found HERE. The building is quite comfortable inside, with a large fire pit area in the front for relaxing, the food serving bars in the middle, and the dining hall, equipped with picnic tables and benches, in the back. Hey, the food was terrific - hearty, tasty, and plentiful!

After we got our bellies full, we followed our tour guide, Eric, to the bunkhouse. Here he is, carting our luggage up the trail. Eric was a gem and took such good care of us on our Alaskan adventure! He was also our tour guide on the British Columbia trip we took in 2010 to photograph grizzly bears in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. 

The bunkhouse was rustic, but reasonably clean. The rooms were small and furnished in vintage camp style. The bathrooms were tiny and included a curtain to pull across for a little privacy for exits from the shower. Each room was equipped with four bunk beds, a table crammed into a corner, and a solitary chair. There were 14 of us in the tour group, including our guide, so we got assigned a total of 4 rooms. I bunked with two other gals, and hubby got to bunk with our guide and another fellow. The walls were paper thin, so we could hear everything from the adjacent rooms. We were asked to refrain from flushing the toilet at night because it made too much noise. On one side, we heard loudmouth fishermen. On the other side, we heard one of our gal travelers fall out of the top bunk in the middle of the night (unhurt, thank goodness).  

I didn’t sleep much at all. I have to admit that the room was the worst I have ever had. It was also the most expensive. To top it off, we went to a lot of trouble to get there.  

Ah, but it was worth it! 

We weren't there for the accommodations.

We were there for THIS!


  1. It does look VERY rustic. sorry you didn't sleep, but it still must have been exciting.

  2. I laughed out loud at your description of your sleeping accommodations! Glad she didn't get hurt, but I did giggle.

    You are right...you were there for the bears!!

    Going to investigate the link :)

  3. She fell OUT of the bed??Hahaaa...ohnooooo....poor thing!
    Must've been dreaming about Bears!
    LOVE the shots Donna! Especially, The Bear! Gorgeous!

  4. from the outside the bunkhouse looks rather charming I think. That would be pretty embarrassing falling out of your bunk in the middle of the night. Glad she wasn't hurt.
    That shot of the bear is really awesome.

  5. You had to share rooms? And pay high prices? What an adventuring spirit you are! I had no idea. Thankfully, I can avoid that entire scene and just enjoy your magnificent photos.

  6. Sometimes you gotta give a little, but it's worth it in the end isn't it? I'm just glad it wasn't YOU who fell out of bed. LOL!
    Can't wait for more adventure!

  7. whew, what an adventure Donna. You've already put me off with your description of the accommodation. Well, not quite really, although it is not likely I'll be traveling back that far again!
    But it must have been amazing to see the bears. Good on you for your adventuring! And for your visit to my blog. My blog and life is tame by comparison! ;-)

  8. poor gal that fell from her bunk..what a start that was for her. glad she didn't get hurt
    who on earth could possible sleep with all those bears in the neighborhood anyway? oh gads..."this" has me running back to the air plane!! ha ha ha!!!! what an exciting trip!
    can't wait to see where you take us next segment!

  9. I love your adventures. I also think this bear portrait is magnificent. You might not believe it, but when Patty and I were first married, 56 years ago, and had a couple of babies, we toyed around with the idea of homesteading in Alaska. Some how Canada found out about us wanting to do that and flooded us with abandoned farms in Canada that we had to move and live in four 5 years and then it would be ours and we got all the farm equipment at the places too. That just flat out spoiled our idea about Alaska and buying guns and being out in the boondocks and two babies and more on the way, no doubt. So we gave it up but admire and sort of envy those who made it in their homesteads.

    Not sure you are even aware of some of the things I have done, but if you take the time to go to


    you can see a kind of history in the right sidebar.

  10. Girl you sure know how to lead up to what has to be one of the best pictures you've ever treated us with. That is beyond splendid all the way to spectacular. And let me say, you are a better woman than me because not only would I not sleep in such conditions, I would also be a big old complaining grouch. I'm happy for you to represent me globally while I enjoy from a vantage point no more than fifty yards from my bed and pillow!

  11. What an incredible experience! My sweetheart and I would love to make this trip.


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