Friday 7 August 2015

In the Wilds of British Columbia at the Great Bear Lodge (Part 2)

Last week I detailed my first nature-spotting excursion at the Great Bear Lodge in northern British Columbia, Canada in August 2013. Lots of wildlife, but no bears. Could I do better? Read on...

By the evening of day three we've had a fairly low bear count - we've seen perhaps three, assuming some of them weren't duplicates.

The best encounter was when a young male bear wandered quite close to the hide we were sitting in (pictured above) - then suddenly realised we were there and dashed off.

The estuary seems a dud at this point. It's likely the bears have moved upstream to fish; so we're driven this time to a newly constructed open platform.

This is a much more impressive vantage point than the hut-like hides - we're out in the open, river right below us and trees all around us, making us very aware of the wild nature we're immersed in. And of potential bears.

The Lodge's co-owner Tom tells us that bears have been here earlier in the day. We can see the proof just to the right of the platform, in the form of a large bear dropping.

So we wait, dressed in waterproof gear in case of rain, falling into a reverie as the water flows past the rocky bar opposite, in the river beyond the trees.

Strangely, this waiting is in no way boring - the rhythmic sound of the water lulls the mind into a pleasant dreamy trance.

It's amazing how quickly we adjust to having our Internet access and work routines taken away, as if our minds are longing for some rest from the incessant chatter.

Suddenly, halfway through the session, there's a murmur of excitement as we see a bear approach and cross the river. Then it disappears and we relax once more.

Not long after this, members of our group on the left detect some movement behind the bushes in the centre of the river, and there's a surprising burst of growling.

I wonder if there might be an aggressive encounter taking place on the other side of the bushes, but in due course a bear emerges - tailed by two cubs.

We're absolutely delighted to see the trio walk left to right across the rocky shore right in our field of view, the cubs trailing the mother as they poke their heads into nooks and crannies along the way. We're breathless, trying to keep our noise to a minimum while taking as many shots as we can.

Though after I've taken some photos, I remind myself to put the camera down and just take the scene in with my eyes.

It's great. The stillness of nature all around, the water, the greenery, and three bears making their way across the twilight theatre.

Disclosure: On this trip I was hosted by the Great Bear Lodge and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

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