We have had a forced disconnection from the world and hence a gap in my adventure chronicle . We have been staying in the Chilcotin area of British Columbia , cut off from internet and all that it means for us these days i.e. Uninterrupted peace and quiet. This has been a grizzly bear trip focused on photography and me doing the video footage.
Nature has timed our arrival perfectly again putting on the peak of autumn colours. The lodge where will be staying for the next seven nights is celebrating 60 years of operation in the tourism industry and Bud who is 90 this year is going strong, although he stepped back a few years ago from direct ownership, his daughter Karen now runs the place.He picks us up at the airport and we start to hear the many amazing true stories of his time on the river.
The photographers get a lodge to themselves, André and I have the ” penthouse” room on top of the lodge overlooking the river and down to the lake and surrounding mountains. It’s gorgeous!
Garry is the cook and when he finds out there are 3 vegetarians in our group he is thrilled and tells us “you are in for a treat”. True to his word every meal we get special creations hand made pizza with creative toppings, wild forest mushroom soup, mushrooms he picked himself, freshly ground almond butter , the almonds lovingly soaked in milk over night, blueberry pancakes, freshly baked cookies and so on, so on. Very spoilt, to top it off the evening meal desserts are heavenly, everything is fresh made : profiteroles, lemon curd cheese cake, fresh strawberries and cream shortbread, chocolate moose etc. Since there are some people trying to keep their trim waistline there are evenings that Garry comes over to me with a spare dessert. We are friends for life!
We start the morning with breakfast at 7am and then off to the river for 4 hours of bear viewing. It is cold but as soon as we see a bear time stops and the feeling of coldness evaporates.
There is a much smaller number of grizzly bears this year, than normal at this time of the year. This is the spawning time for the salmon and right where the lodge is positioned we see hundreds of vividly red sockeye salmon in their final days of life. The Bears come here every year to top up nutrition before the long winter sleep.
There are a few theories why the numbers of bears are low and we all hope that it’s the theory saying the berry crop has been very late this summer and the bears are stilling feeding on those in the mountains. The other theories are not good news for the Bears if correct. One is that last year there was a tiny salmon run and the bears were very thin so maybe some have not survived the winter.
The other is that this year’s horrendous fires through BC, 125 still burning have caused a big wildlife loss, the last theory which we hope can not be true is trophy hunting. This has been banned in this part of BC but not throughout the province.
The Bears we see are so kind to us and have come out of the hills quite fat so that is a good sign for the upcoming winter sleep at least for these bears.
We also have the treat of a Mum with three puff ball cubs and all the trials and tribulations a mother goes through keeping an eye on such a mischievous brood.
We get to know the pattern of their moves, feeding on salmon interspersed with a feed on some berries and then a snooze with a suckle on Mum. We get brilliant sunny afternoons and frosty mornings with a nice three hour break midday.