Thursday, August 8, 2013

Camping With the Bears at Katmai National Park - August 3-5, 2013... Part 2!

Katmai National Park wasn't actually set aside because of the bears. It was set aside because of the great eruption of the Novarupta volcano back in 1912 that covered the valley floor with 500 feet of ash. That's yet another statistic that I can't really comprehend... 500 FEET of ash. This ash covered all the rivers and lakes in the valley, and subsequently the heated water caused steam fizzures to form through the ash. It looked like 10,000 steam engines were in the valley, and became known as the "Valley of 10,000 Smokes". A haze from this eruption darkened the sky over most of the northern hemisphere. People in "nearby" Kodiak were being evacuated a couple days after the eruption began and couldn't see their hand in front of their face even with a lantern lit because it was so dark. I can't even imagine!

They offer a bus trip into this valley, where you can hike down further into the valley to get up close to the ash and other features. It was even more interesting than I expected!

On our drive out there, we stopped a few times along the way to get off the bus and see some different scenery. At this stop, we saw that a bear had recently been here rubbing on this tree... see the fur?

The road to the Valley of 10,000 Smokes

We had a couple water crossings... this is one of them.

We haven't even gotten there yet and the scenery is beautiful. You can see a tiny bit of the ash in the valley though!

The fireweed was so plentiful it made the hillside PINK! So pretty!

 Zoomed in version of the photo above...

A better view of the Valley... rivers have begun to carve through the ash again, but not all the way to the bottom yet.

Our ride...

On our hike, we got much much closer to the ash and even lava (well, cooled/hardened lava)! Surreal!

Mountains of ash!

The ash has been weathered by rain, wind, etc... of course I love to look at the detail in this!

This river... we could hear it from a ways off. Check out the videos below the photo... I'd hate to get caught in that water! We couldn't even hear each other talking when we were near it it was so loud!

This is downstream of the previous video... at the falls. Again... I wouldn't want to get caught in that tumultuous water!

Then very quickly after the falls, the river calms down quite a bit.

Continuing on with our hike... that's most of the rest of our group. Of course I was taking up the rear!

The confluence... there are actually 3 different rivers joining together here. It felt like we were on a different planet. So strange... and awesome!

Some pumice...

This is one of my favorite scenic shots of the trip. That fireweed was just beautiful lining the road!

One last scenic shot on our way back to Brooks Camp. This area was fogged in when we stopped there in the morning, so we decided to stop on the way back to see if we could see more.

Going on this day trip is highly recommended if you're going to Katmai. It means you really need to spend a whole day there (in other words, stay 2 nights), but it is 100% worth it! 'Til next time...

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