Wild Grizzlies of Katmai
Bears, Bears Everywhere

Hallo Bay

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After a couple of days exploring Kukak Bay, Captain John navigated the Ursus to the larger, less protected Hallo Bay on the edge of Katmai National Park.

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We climbed out of the skiff, waded to shore, and hiked over the ridge into a huge flat valley...


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...that was home to lots of grizzlies. We thought we'd seen lots of bears in Kukak Bay, but in Hallo everywhere we turned we could see bears.

Our first bears were just over the ridge, a mother and two year-old cubs. So we sat down to watch them, and they put on quite a show for us, welcoming us to Hallo Bay.

 

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Bear cubs are born up mid-winter up in the mountainside caves. They will stay with their mommas for 2 1/2 years before she makes them go out on their own so she can take care of a new family. All of the cubs we saw in our 3 days in Hallo Bay were about the same age, babies born the previous winter and now about 18 months old. They have one more year with Momma Bear and then they'll be off to do their own bear thing.

 
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The cubs are so playful, pestering each other just like human siblings do.


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...with Big Momma always keeping a close eye on them and ready to intervene if needed. You don't wanna mess with a momma grizzly!

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A short distance away we spotted this very light-colored bear...


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...and as we got closer we saw she had one cub as well. Their blonde coats really surprised us!

 

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Everywhere we turned we could see grizzlies...even in the water. Bears can swim, but since it was "hot" that day (by Alaska standards) they were probably just trying to keep cool.


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A different momma with a single year-old cub...


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Those cubs are so adorable and look small next to their mommas, but they are already big and weigh as much as an adult human.

 

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Shawn pointed out the cub track is as big as his hand.

 

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Oh, but those blues....


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At high tide, the water comes way in.

 

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Another momma and babes...

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Momma apparently felt comfortable with us as an audience, because when her cubs started whining she plopped down and let them nurse right there in front of us.

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Their tummies full of momma's rich milk...


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...the cubs laid down for a nap. Not a bit of concern that we were sitting just a few yards away.


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BIG paw print!

 

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Scattered throughout the valley are these big decaying logs, assumedly carried in on storm waters many years ago.


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Makes for a nice playground for the bears...


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This momma and baby didn't stick around long...

 

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...when they saw this big bad grumpy boy walking through.


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They've spotted him too. 


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Clear the way when big bad Leroy Brown is coming through!

 

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Over by the stream were two family groups...two mommas with 2 cubs each.


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A double merganser fly-by...


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We always hate to leave, but tomorrow is another day...

 

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Hiking back over the ridge to catch our skiff...


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Surprising how many beautiful wildflowers there were, like these wild irises.


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As you can see, the tide is beginning to go out. It's a race against time...if we wait a few more minutes, we'll have a lot further to walk through the muddy seabed. We also need to board quickly and get out before the skiff gets stuck in the mud and we get stuck for several hours on Hallo Bay.


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Heading back to the Ursus, we were treated to an incredible natural phenomenon known as a Fata Morgana mirage.

Those cliff-like structures are not real! That direction is open sea, those wild structures are an optical illusion, a mirage. I know...hard to believe!

Mirages form when there is a large difference in temperature between the water or ground and the air. In this case, the water is icy cold and the air temperature was probably in the 60s or so. That difference causes the light to curve upward, "pulling" these ghost images from small floating chunks of ice into the air. They are called Fata Morgana mirages in reference to the Arthurian legendary fairy queen Morgan le Fey who supposedly created these imaginary structures to lure unsuspecting sailors into her traps.

Extraordinary! Put this under the heading "If you aren't careful, you might learn something new every day."

 

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A magical place in so many ways...

...Hallo Bay.

 

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