Katmai finale

A week off the grid on the coast of Alaska – photographing bears.

This post is part of a series about our photography trip to Alaska.

The full group of photographers on our Muench Katmai Bears expedition. L to R: Kevin, Pam, Jeff, Gene, Jerry, Caryn, Jeff, Allen, Dave, Jack; kneeling: John. Photo by Kevin Lisota.

Saturday (September 3) Kodiak: We woke to a sunny and calm morning in Geographic Harbor.

Early morning light in Geographic Harbor, Katmai

After breakfast and packing, we hung about the ship while we waited for three floatplanes to arrive. Although they were a bit late, each dropped into Geographic Harbor, then pulled up to the stern of the Dreamcatcher so we could board in weight-balanced groups. Below, one plane at the stern while another waits behind.

Our plane for the ride back from Geographic Harbor to Kodiak.

It was a gorgeous day to fly back to Kodiak across the Shelikof Strait and the island of Kodiak; watch the liftoff in Geographic Harbor and the landing in Kodiak bay.

View back toward the snow-capped peaks of Katmai National Park, Alaska.

We arrived mid-morning so we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out for lunch with the group. Later, after cleaning up in the hotel, we celebrated a final dinner together at the hotel restaurant. At this point the group had a great sense of camaraderie and it was difficult to say goodbye to all our new friends.

Sunday (September 4) Anchorage: Dad and I flew back to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines. I had booked a hotel room for two nights so we enjoyed lunch at the hotel, and reorganized our luggage. The hotel was adjacent to Hood lake that was adjacent to the airport… and Hood lake is the largest floatplane port in North America! We enjoyed watching the floatplanes land, every few minutes. Dad went back to the airport to head home, while I settled in for another day in Anchorage.

Brown bear – Geographic Harbor

P.S. Some of you have asked, “what’s the difference between brown bears and grizzly bears?” Good question! “Brown and grizzly are common names for the same species, Ursus arctos; the difference between the two is geographic location, which influences diet, size, and behavior. Those that live in coastal areas of Alaska are called brown bears, while typically inland bears that have limited or no access to marine-derived food resources are often smaller and called grizzlies” [NPS]. Thus, the brown bears of coastal Alaska are bigger than grizzly bears!

[Editor’s note: I later selected, edited, and posted the best photographs.]

(This post was written after the trip and backdated to September 4)

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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