Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Bear Essentials; Sightings of Grizzlies Are Guaranteed in Autumn in Canada

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Bear Essentials; Sightings of Grizzlies Are Guaranteed in Autumn in Canada

Article excerpt

Byline: JILL HARTLEY

I'VE always wanted to see a bear in the wild.

Having tried and failed in two US national parks, despite dawn risings, squatting for hours near rubbish dumps (cheating, really) and being polka-dotted with mozzie bites after hanging around an alleged bruin-friendly swamp, it became a quest.

So, when I heard that sightings of grizzlies are virtually guaranteed during autumn at Knight Inlet Lodge, British Columbia, I was hooked.

When told the only way to arrive is by float plane, I started packing.

It's an eighthour time change, three flights - a bit of a slog for a long weekend - and a hefty price, but just one bear would make it worthwhile.

Dizzy with jet lag, after an overnight flight to Vancouver, and high on the smell of pine resin from the nearby logging station at Campbell River, where we boarded the float plane, we even managed to laugh at the famed Canadian sense of humour. "Have a grizzly time," said the ground flight attendant, handing out the boarding passes.

After flying over a greenand-blue jigsaw of a landscape - Identikit lakes, creeks and forests, scarred with bare patches from logging - we landed at the lodge's floating pontoon to be met by a handful of dependable and instantly likeable Dans, Bens and Glens, all relaxed and Gortexed.

One of the Dans zipped us into a couple of cold-weather survival suits and paddled us up the estuary in a sweet Swallows and Amazons fourseater boat on our first bearwatch. Within seconds we'd spotted a bald eagle. After five minutes we'd counted at least 10 and watched an oversized gull pick up a metre-long salmon in its talons - easy fast food for a hungry bear.

The bright sun, despite the intense cold, turned the shallows periwinkle-blue and the lichens on the shoreline boulders Granny-Smith-green. …

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