Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bear Photography in Katmai Coast 1

I went back to Alaska again... Photographing bears is one of my passions now.

At this time, I stayed in Hallo Bay, located on the remote coast of Katmai National Park, on the Shelikof Strait. Getting to Hallo Bay was an adventure... I flew in a small old Cessna from Homer that was delayed for many hours by the weather. The plane took off late in the afternoon, even though it was supposed to fly in the morning. On the plane, I flew close to the mountain tops, glaciers, and volcanoes. The plane landed on a sandy beach - no runway!

The evening we arrived, there were 9 new arrivals including my husband and myself, a guide took us on an introductory walk to the beach. Since we were deep in the area with highest population of brown bears (grizzlies) in the world, we weren't allowed to wander around without a guide. Bears would even sometimes wander right by the Camp area! Bears might came out from anywhere! So, we always have to walk with a guide and stay together in a group. Bears don't attack a group of people. The Camp wants to keep the perfect safety record.

The coast was truly wilderness, Hallo Bay Bear Camp in the only bit of civilization in this remote bear habitat. If you ever heard about Timothy Treadwell (in the documentary movie "Grizzly Man"), he was camping by himself at the south of Hallo Bay for 13 summers among bears, until he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a bear in 2002. A woman working at the Hallo Bay Camp saw him a few times. "One day, he was wearing camouflage and had painted his face to black, then the next day, he was wearing a 3 piece suite in this wilderness, " she described.

During our first walk, we walked along the beach, crossed a little stream, and looked at shells including razor clams which the bears had dug up and eaten during the low tides.

Suddenly, a bear popped out from the bush ahead! The bear wandered along the beach, then ate the grass for a short while, and then disappeared into the bush again. That was the highlight of the short walk.

The next two days, I experienced many intimate bear encounters.

This story will continue to my next blog.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog.

- Sunny K. Awazuhara-Reed

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