The Alaska sun beat down on us as we sat in the waist deep grass watching a 1000 pound coastal brown bear graze in Katmai National Park. Behind this heavily furred bear we could see glacier covered volcanoes stretching to the horizon. Behind us, the usually rough Gulf of Alaska lapped gently on the cobble beach. I was delighted by the weather as were the four photographers I was guiding, but this poor bear was suffering in the 65 degree heat. When the bear could no longer take the torment he stopped grazing and headed straight for us. We instinctively move back as he got closer and closer but relaxed as we realized his intention was only to cool off in the river between us. After 20 minutes of bathing, our camera shutters making a racket, the bear started to exhale underwater making a steady stream of bubbles. “Mr Bubbles,” as we quickly dubbed this huge bruin, lay in the river for another 20 minutes totally engrossed in this silly form of self entertainment. The beautiful weather held for several more days and we watched Mr. Bubbles earn his name again and again during our week on the coast.
By Michael Wald co-owner and guide.