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Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 3:40 am
by MikeW
I’ve not processed all of my AK photos yet but thought I'd go ahead and post some here. I was lucky enough to draw a permit for the McNeil River Falls area where they let 8 people in for 4-day periods. You have to arrange your own transportation (float plane), bring all your gear (photo gear, tent, water purification, food, rain gear, etc.) and stay under the weight limit of 300 pounds (you and your gear...not an easy thing when I'm 225 pounds). It was a fantastic trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat even though I got Pneumonia after the trip, most likely due to the weather. The trip was really good but the weather was not. I got there after the salmon runs ended (I was drawn for a permit timeframe in August because I got a permit someone turned down on the initial draw) so the bears were not at the waterfalls like in late June/early July (which is what I applied for). So we had to hike the Alaskan bush to find them…that was interesting to say the least. You cannot walk without looking at the ground every step you take because it had rained so much it was all either mud, flooded or tidal areas that are covered at high-tide and full of slippery debris…seaweed etc. We hiked about 7+ miles a day and did manage to see bears every day and some really close. The final day we had an 1100 pound male within 15 feet and looking right at us as he walked by…that is a different kind of adrenalin rush than I have ever had before. We had bears in camp twice and also walking the trail next to camp many times (that trail, which is okay for them to be on, was only about 30 yards from my tent), all of that really makes you think when you lay down for the night in your little 2 man tent. Other than the Brown Bears we also saw a lot of Bald Eagles (much bigger than those in the Eastern US) and we had a family of Red Fox in camp (their den was by the staff cabins), so plenty of opportunity for good shots. The weather was 40’s at night and 55 to upper 60’s in the day. Lots of rain!! Day one half rain, day 2 all rain but horizontal with 30 mph winds, day 3 half rain and finally day 4 was no rain…we saw 6 bears that day and it was just me with one other person and the guide. All I know after that trip is I have to get back to Alaska for some more photography. I was not able to do any landscape work due to the totally bad weather the entire time I was there. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos.

Have a great rest of the week,

I like this one because it was sitting on a cobblestone rock cliff that is anywhere from 50 to hundreds of feet high. The tide crashes against the wall at high-tide and it is covered in nice vegetation which is something you normally don't see for an eagle photo.

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This is a big female Brown Bear taken about 50 yards from my tent.

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This is 'Mouse' a very large female and we encountered her while walking the tide flats working our way toward the waterfall area. We rounded a group of really large rocks and there she was 20 yards on the other side. This photo was from about 40 yards because she was walking away from us and it took 30 seconds or so to get all the rain protection off my camera.

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Re: Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 3:46 am
by MikeW
A few more...

This was a mother playing with her 2 year old cub

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This was a big male that came within 15 yards the final day...he sure looked huge at that distance through the lens where all I could see was his head and shoulder.

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These guys were around the camp all the time. The den was near the staff cabins and the first night, after we had seen a bear walk through the tent area, these guys would be running around and wake you up by running into your tent ropes...really makes you wonder when you are half asleep what just hit the tent.

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More playing on the beach at low tide.

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I'll try to post a few more from the trip this weekend.

Re: Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:25 pm
by SandyLee
Big THANKS Mike!!!! Sounds and Looks like you overcame LOTS of obstacles.... but the images are awesome! (and, I hope you have recovered from the pneumonia! eek!)

Re: Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:25 pm
by MikeW
Thanks Sandy, I appreciate the comments.

Re: Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:51 am
by Duane Wilcox
Excellent photos!

Re: Alaska Brown Bear Trip

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:40 pm
by MikeW
Thanks Duane!