On one of the mornings we get to the dock and load up into the boats three each and a guide, when someone notices there is a bear about 10m away in the water. We all watch as she gradually makes her way to the boat stopping with her nose virtually touching the boat as she picks up a salmon right there and suddenly from her hunting concentration notices us as we keep on telling her how much of a “good bear” she is. I think she agrees with us and so moves on along the dock , down the river. I have made a fairly riveting video of that visit but this is a still from that.
We notice how many species rely on the bears getting the salmon from the water as not only is it the birds but all kinds of other ground animals like marten benefit from the fish. Each morning we get to see a Fisheries boat go by as they count and estimate the current year’s quota of salmon spawning. This is an incredibly important statistic that impacts hugely on fishing quotas.
Most days clear up to a brilliant blue sky and I thaw out a little from the morning chill. We decide that more than foot warmers will be required later when we go up to the Yukon to keep my feet warm. Luckily we get to find out about an invention only possible in a place like Canada of battery operated socks that discharge a steady heat for about 6 hours. This will be a must purchase before we leave for up north.
It is always a real treat to come across the Mum and the cubs and on one of the days we see her relaxed in the water fishing while the cubs wait on land. Clearly they end up getting bored with that as they soon join Mum and all swim across the river to the other side.
Sometimes the cubs try and grab a salmon away from her and we get to hear a very vocal exchange of disapproval from her, which mostly does not result in a cub giving up his fish trophy.
We also notice more and more bald head eagles arriving to join in the feasting. A steady hand and a fast trigger are needed to capture these in flight.
We also get to see the ritual of tree rubbing by the bears. This is a way of the Bears communicating with each other as to who is around in the area. It also indicates who is the dominant bear as he will have the highest rub on the tree. We alight one morning to have a look at a tree we have seen Bears rub on and sure enough there is a well trodden trail of bear prints leading up and away from the tree.
During the midday break we try and stretch our paws and check out the view from above the lodge. As we have seen Bears climb this ridge on a few occasions we carry bear spray with us and call out once in a while to let any bear that might be near by know we are coming and not get surprised. It is certainly worth the trek up as the view is incredible.
On our last day on the water we see the Mum and the cubs and as we watch them, she climbs out of the water onto the bank , lies down and starts nursing the cubs. How trusting and special for us to witness as a farewell to this beautiful family. The final morning arrives and it is very cold and icy underfoot with a sprinkling of snow on the ground and quite the dusting on the surrounding hills.
It is time to say goodbye to the staff and we drive the 1.5 hours to the airport. Bud again is one of the drivers and tells us more stories. We have now seen the posters of him for the Marlborough man adds from the 60’s when the FDA announced smoking was bad for you and Marlborough came up with the campaign of clean cowboy , outdoor living to counter measure that. I am tickled pink when Bud announces that he thinks I’m gorgeous and that André is a lucky man ( I always thought so 🙂 This said within earshot of one of the other Australian photographers who promptly reports back to André saying ” you better watch out mate, Bud is hitting on your Missus” 🙂
We have a smooth flight back to Vancouver and say farewell to a great adventure. Time to get some heated socks for the next leg of the journey.