Backpacking Alaska’s Katmai National Park

Last August Crystal and I took a group of nine hardy souls on an epic backpacking trip across Alaska’s Katmai Range. The route we took led us from the Valley of 10,000 Smokes across Katmai Pass to the Pacific Ocean on the far side of the range. It was about a 50-mile hike through a trail-less wilderness as we crossed rivers, hiked up and over peaks and camped with our trusty electric bear fence! I wrote a post about it right after the trip (which you can read here) but I wanted to revisit this experience and share some more of my images from the trip! The area of our adventure is known as a Brown Bear migration corridor that they use to travel from the Coastal Regions of Katmai to more productive Salmon Spawning areas along the various river systems. Always on the lookout for Bears we saw TONS of sign but not until we reached the coast did we find any – I ran into a mother and three cubs on the beach at Katmai Bay – but that’s it! All the bears were down in the lower river valleys and at Brooks Camp fishing for Salmon so we had the mountains to ourselves!

Why didn’t we see any bears? Well – they’re incredible intelligent you see and they know where their meals come from! Year after year the Bears of Katmai (there approximately 2000 in the park) descend on various streams to fish for Salmon during what are very predictable salmon runs. The most productive and important of these streams being the Brooks River which is a tributary of the Naune which eventually pours out past the town of King Salmon and is a part of the Bristol Bay Watershed. Prior to our epic backpacking trip, we spent a few days at Brooks Camp – camping out in the forest among the bears as they fished for salmon. I run several photography trips per year to Brooks Camp to photograph the bears as seen here

Below are some images from our backpacking trips across Katmai National Park. It was a true wilderness experience and is certainly the most remote place I think any of us had ever been. At the end of the trip we were (eventually) picked up by a small bush plane and transferred first to Kodiak Island and then on to Homer, Alaska. I was going through Bear images from last year and I realized that I had completely forgotten about a whole series of images that I took from our backpacking trip – so here they are! Pretty sure I’m in need to get out and do another trip like that soon – until next time!



Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”

Image Review: Wildlife Edition

with Russell Graves & Kenton Krueger
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)

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