Thursday, July 9, 2015

Katmai Pass

Leaving the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Despite the awesomeness of Katmai's caldera and Novarupta, if I had to pick a favorite place along our route, it would be the section from Katmai Pass to Observation Mountain. I had never seen any photos of this area, so it's odd combination of pumice, lava, and lush but spotty vegetation was constantly surprising.

Mageik Creek and Trident Lava Flows
Moose tracks right through Katmai Pass

Big bear prints
Mageik Creek looking back toward the pass
There were TONS of Monkeyflowers in this area
Once you pass through Katmai Pass, there are old lava flows to the west from Mageik volcano and new lava flows from the 1950s to the east from Trident volcano that funnel you into a small river valley. That valley is the only easy travel corridor around, so all sorts of animals use it. As always, following game trails has its pluses and minuses - animals usually know the best route to travel, but you're also bound to run into some of them eventually. We ran into a bear just on the other side of the tight river valley, so we had space to swing wide and avoid the bear (who seemed none too scared of us).

Well-worn bear trail where they step in the same prints every time
A bear (very small in the picture) just chillin' in our path, so we went around

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