Grizzlies

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In Summer 2010, we spent three weeks in British Columbia, Canada. The standout highlight of the trip was the three days we spent at Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove.

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The floating lodge is deep within Knight Inlet, one of the many huge inlets that serrate the coast of this beautiful province. It can only be reached by float plane or boat.

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Like most visitors to the Lodge, we travelled by float plane from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Living just outside London, England, we don’t get to travel this way very often so our stay was off to an exciting start before we’d even arrived!

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The views were superb despite the weather; it rains a lot here.

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On arrival, after a short introduction to the guides and resident dogs, we were soon in a boat out in the Cove scouring the banks for signs of bears. Although we were too early for the salmon run when bears gather in numbers to fish and can be watched from hides, there was a good chance of finding some foraging on the shoreline.

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We saw some mergansers, a kingfisher, several curious seals and a loon before a call came over the radio to return to base immediately; bears had been spotted near the lodge!

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I wasn’t prepared for how breathtaking it was to see these wonderful creatures in the wild.

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We watched this female, ‘christened’ Bella by the guides, and her three cubs as they foraged along the shoreline. Although we were separated by several feet of water, I felt very aware of my proximity to this powerful mother, who would not hesitate to defend her cubs.

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We would be lucky enough to watch Bella and her cubs several more times during our stay as well as two other grizzly families. Wildlife abounds in Glendale Cove; we also saw a black bear and some black-tailed deer.

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There were many bald eagles and herons as well as numerous smaller species of bird, including swallows who nested in the eaves of the lodge.

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Not to be outdone, some smaller mammals shared the limelight. We saw mink on the shore and the lodge was frequently visited by a cheeky band of river otters.

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For a change of pace, we could bear-watch from kayaks.

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Or go on a guided forest hike. Here, my town-bred daughter can’t quite believe I am letting her stir her hot chocolate with a twig!

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The evenings were spent socialising in the bar or enjoying entertaining and interesting talks by the friendly and knowledgeable guides. We had read on Tripadvisor that the food was great but it was even better than we expected.

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Knight Inlet Lodge is a founding member of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia (CBVA). The CBVA campaigns to ban the currently legal trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia. Watching these magnificent creatures in the wild, I could not imagine ever being able to shoot one with anything other than a camera.

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It was a privilege seeing these animals in their natural habitat. To be able to share an experience like this with my children, and to hear them talk about it still, is even better.

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11 thoughts on “Grizzlies

  1. Great post, Rachael – that’s a beautiful place. By chance I re-watched Herzog’s eerie/beautiful ‘Grizzly Man’ a few nights ago (brought it with a bunch of DVDs to Korea). I have mixed feelings about grizzlies. Of course I agree they’re incredible animals, and want them protected, but as a hiker they’re one of the few animals that give me the chills!

    I haven’t hiked in grizzly country but they’re a real emotional barrier to exploring Alaska, for example. Let’s call it an irrational phobia — I have another one about sharks, despite/because of having grown up near the water in coastal Australia. Curiously I’m never worried about deadly snakes, of which my country has an abundance, and I’ve seen more than a dozen rattlesnakes up close in the States, and found them beautiful.

    • Thanks! My husband, Canadian, is very wary of bears. Not too keen on skarks either, but then we are the Jaws generation so that’s hardly surprising. Spielberg has a lot to answer for! My outdoor nemesis is the eight legged freak. I just don’t do spiders. Unfortunately, our house is full of them.
      We have come across a rattlesnake hiking in, of all places, Canada! They have a ‘pocket’ desert in British Columbia and it is full of rattlers. But, like you, I find snakes rather more beautiful than scary. Now, if it had been a black widow… Although there was that time I had a shower with three red backs… But then you would know all about those!

      • Oh yeah, a few years ago I found a redback walking across my living room floor! They’re probably in everyone’s backyards in S.E. Queensland, but this one had literally crossed the line. I scooped it up in a jar and took it to school to scare my students.

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