Grizzly Bears in the Fall

October 14th, 2009 by Carl D
A grizzly bear chases Sockeye Salmon through a stream, Katmai National Park, Alaska.
A grizzly bear chases Sockeye Salmon through a stream, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Well, the season has wound up tight, and I’m slowly getting back in to ‘office-mode‘ for the winter. I’ll try to write a ‘summer backpacking wrap’ before too long, with some notes from the various trips we had this year. In the meantime, I’d like to mention a trip I’m planning for next year, 2010, that I’m WAAAAYYYYY excited about. I’ll be leading a photo tour to Katmai National Park in the fall, after the backpacking season. We’ll basecamp in Katmai National Park for a week, and photograph grizzly bears, also known as ‘brown bears’ in that particular region, all day long. For those of you unfamiliar with Katmai National Park, the region is home to the greatest population density of grizzly bears anywhere, and also some of the largest bears in the world. The bears feed much of the summer on spawning Sockeye and Silver Salmon, and images such as the above, with a bear charging through a stream, splashing up water as it races after the fleeing salmon, are just one of the fantastic photo opportunities that Katmai National Park holds the patient and hard-working photographer. There’s simply nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

This photo tour is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, and I’m super excited about the trip. There’s nothing quite like being in the realm of the grizzly bear, and the opportunity to simply observe and be around the bears is worth the time and effort alone; and the photo opportunities are without par. Katmai National Park is a real treat for the wildlife photographer, so this is sure to be a great time. It’ll be a small group, no more than 4 or 5 photographers, we’ll outfit the camping gear, or you can bring your own, we’ll handle all the food, or you can bring your own; you have to bring yourself, your camera gear, clothing (more on this later), and the rest is up to the weather-Gods.

Another thing that makes this trip a treat is the time of year – we’ll be aiming for peak fall color season, giving us the chance to make some images simply impossible to do the rest of the year. The bears look better this time of year, being bigger (as much as a third to a half again heavier), with much fuller coats as they get ready to den for the winter. I haven’t posted the trip to the site in the Trip pages yet, but that’ll be coming soon, as the office-mode takes place. The photo tour will be late September; bring your fleece jacket and hat, chest waders, a telephoto lens and a boat load of camera batteries and CF cards. I’ll write some more about this as I get everything else caught up.

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2 Responses to “Grizzly Bears in the Fall”

  1. Hey Carl,

    THAT is a GORGEOUS capture!! Like you mentioned in your pages on the journal, this bear’s ears are not upright (the best I can see) does it mean that its not focused on “getting” the salmon??

    Even to imagine being in the path of this massive creature is terrifying to say the least!! And if they get “fatter” as fall approaches, man I can’t imagine how much these would weigh..whew…


  2. Hey Sai,

    Thanks for the kind words. You’re right, the bears’ ears are laid back, but it’s not because he’s charging at all – rather he’s feeling from another bear that approached from behind him. Sure changes the feel of the image though, doesn’t it.

    The funny thing about their size is that even the ‘small’ bears suddenly get enormous when they get close to you. It’s quite an experience.



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