A mother grizzly bear and her two cubs were walking about 5 feet in front of our line of travelers in Katmai National Park, Alaska. There was a small gap between Norma and the next person beyond her, and at one point it looked like the mother bear might just pass right between Norma and the next photographer. She was really hoping she’d actually brush shoulders with a wild bear, but five feet was probably close enough.

Grizzly bear cub and mother

Our Expedition Leader Justin Gibson led us out to an island in the middle of a salmon stream, and we often had grizzly bears feeding on both sides of us. At one point, Norma had turned around and was taking photos of a bear fishing about 12 to 15 feet in front of her. I nudged her, and she pushed back to indicate I should leave her alone. But I nudged her again, and when she turned to make me stop, I pointed to a bear eating a fish about 5 feet beyond my toes. Surrounded by wild bears—top that!

By Bob & Norma Schafer, travelers on Nat Hab’s Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter 

Grizzly bear eating salmon in Alaska

Grizzly bear fishing for salmon in Alaska

Brown bear eating salmon in Alaska

Wild brown bear in Alaska

All photos © Norma and Bob Schafer