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!