Vancouver to Great Bear Lodge 

Ok, this will be the abbreviated version. I had been writing  as we went, and somehow, today (5.9.16) I’ve managed to delete the lot. I think maybe while I was putting it in and out of my pocket in the rain. 

So yesterday we had an early start, not feeling quite the lark,  after another indulgent session at Chewies. More oysters, followed by crocodile , which is very satisfying to eat, somehow!! Not to mention a few margaritas, served by a lovely lad who submitted to a hug at the end!! This is the cool chandelier in the restaurant. 

  • We hit the airport at 0645 and our flight left at seven. Arrived in Port Hardy to find we couldn’t get a transfer to Bear Lodge till 3pm. As you can imagine, Not Happy. Six hours, on a public holiday  with everything shut, in a tiny blip of a place. The local cafe ladies were lovely and let us commandeer the reading couch. I even managed a few zeds. 

Eventually someone  collected us and took us to the airport. We found we were flying in a remarkable old plane called a  Grumman Goose. It takes off on wheels, retracts them  and lands on its belly, with floats that come down from the wing tips and balances the plane as it lands on the water. 

I decided I really wanted the co-pilots seat and was uncharacteristically quick in coming forward and asking!! The pilot, Ryan (a very nice and good looking guy, fortuitously!), said to go up then, as he needed a co-pilot!! I was stoked. 

It was amazing. AWESOME. Actually my highlight so far. All the instruments are above you, not in front like a Cessna. I had a great view and, since I was the only one with head phones, could chat with Ryan the whole way. He told me a ton about the area and the wild life which was grand, and I relayed it to the group later. He also told me three  of the biggest inlets in the area are fed through a narrow 400 foot entrance from the ocean. The tide fall is 34 feet and the slack tide lasts two minutes! Incredible. 

There’s 16 of us staying here. A lovely Aussie couple, Mark and Dana,  who are really hard case and play tag team with us, keeping the others laughing. The good  old Kiwi /Aussie routine!! Dan and Dani are an English couple who are in the marketing /tourism and zoo industry. There’s two other English couples, a German and American pair and a couple from the Netherlands. It’s a good group, interesting and social, with no clashes, a rarity I would’ve thought, in a bunch of loopies randomly thrown together. 

Or first days bear watching has  been a huge success. In fact the first trip to a hide, last night, was astonishing. We’ve seen so many animals. Big bears, little bears, males, females, young and old. To see them in their natural habitat, fishing the salmon, digging up roe or just opportunistically grabbing the dead fish as they float by, after spawning, is a real treat. I’ve learned so much about them. This environment is incredibly abundant. Plants, birds, fish, other wildlife and no water shortage!! If you got lost out  here, you’d have to be a few sheep missing in the top paddock not to survive, I reckon.   

Our guides so far have been wonderful, passionate, articulate and generous with their time and knowledge. Marcus is Canadian, Sarah is English and Allie is from Ontario. Marcus and Sarah took us on a walk between bear watching trips. They carry bear spray in cans, which is really strong  capsicum. Marcus also had a serious looking machete knife and they had two way radios. There’s no Internet out here. Shane stayed behind and relaxed, just as well as we did a decent hike. I loved it though. They told us so much about the local ecosystem and found different berries for us to try. I tried everything. Good too.   

The lodge itself is beautiful. It floats on the inlet so we are out of reach of bears unless they get really nosy and swim over. We are not allowed ashore without a guide. That’s the only rule!! It sits  in the environment in a very complimentary way and is as self sustaining as possible. Solar power and a wee hydro plant supply most of the electrical needs, with a diesel generator as back up. 

The food has been divine so far. Dinner tonight was kiwi lamb shank and I’m pleased to say, only added to our awesome reputation. We had one each, and it was so good I was wondering what had happened to the other three off my lamb!! This carnivore is a happy carnivore. Coupled with an unlimited supply of very nice Canadian wine, I’m off to bed entirely replete.      

 

                  

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