No Lions or Tigers, but Bears! Oh My!

In my last post I was finishing my trek across British Columbia to the northern-most west coast town of Prince Rupert. It was the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary  that drew me to stretch my journey to the far reaches of Canada. If you’ve been reading my recent posts about the western Canada leg of my journey, you know my love for these magnificent creatures. The sanctuary is very remote (which is good for the grizzlies and humans alike!) and an adventure tour out of Prince Rupert was my means of getting there. While researching I found my best option to be Prince Rupert Adventure Tours, an outfit that specializes in grizzly tours as well as whale watching tours.

The morning after my arrival at a very simple campground in Prince Rupert I anxiously hopped on board with a nice group of fellow travelers and the pleasant and well-versed crew. Our cruise took us out of the harbor, into the Portland Inlet and up the Khutzeymateen Inlet.

British Columbia, Canada

Portland Inlet, British Columbia coast

British Columbia, Canada

Shoreline along Khutzeymateen Inlet

British Columbia, Canada

Khutzeymateen Inlet

Khutzeymateen Inlet shores, British Columbia

Khutzeymateen Sanctuary, also called “Valley of the Grizzly,” is the only one of its kind in Canada. The park’s name is a Tsimshian First Nations word that means “sheltered place of fish and bears.”

We watched the young bear below make his way down the shoreline turning over rocks in search of something good to eat for quite some time. We were sad to hear from our captain that the mother of this cub (and sibling) was recently attacked and killed by male, undoubtedly while protecting her cubs. It was no surprise to see this little guy warily watching behind him, and we never did see sign of his sibling. While doing a little research for this post I came across an amazing video clip of a mother grizzly protecting her cubs and their meal from an aggressive male. Clearly she meant business! Mother Grizzly Defends her Cubs…

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Grizzly cub travels the shores solo

orphan grizzly cub watching for danger

orphan grizzly cub watching for danger

Not too much later we came upon this momma and cub foraging on the abundant sedge grass which seems to be a favorite staple in their diets. After dining for a bit they made their way down to the water where momma took the opportunity to cool off for a bit.

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Momma Grizzly and cub dining on sedge grass

Female Grizzly and cub watch us warily

Female Grizzly and cub watch us warily

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Grizzly sow

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Grizzly sow and cub

British Columbia, Canada

Khutzeymateen Inlet

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia, Canada

Fishing vessel, Portland Inlet

After a few hours of “bear watching” (we  saw several!) we headed back toward port, and as we neared the harbor the captain threw in a bonus by having the staff attract a few bald eagle by flinging fish parts into the air off the boat stern. It was fun watching these grand birds soaring and diving in such close proximity.

Portland Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Portland Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Bald Eagle misses a fish

Portland Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

Bald eagle

British Columbia, Canada

Prince Rupert Bay

The following day I drove south to Port Edward to check out the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, but found it closed. It was interesting to see from the outside though!  With a little extra time on my hands I decided to drive back east on the Yellowhead Highway since there were many places I would have pulled off for a better look had I not been in my motorhome coming west. The rest of the day was spent walking the girls around the harbor area and downtown Prince Rupert.

British Columbia, Canada

North Pacific Cannery, Port Edward

Waterfall along Yellowhead Highway

Waterfall along Yellowhead Highway

British Columbia, Canada

Prince Rupert sunken garden

British Columbia, Canada

Prince Rupert sunken garden

Early the following morning I was in line to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island. This was not my first ferry voyage with motorhome and tow car, but by far the longest! With a 7:30am departure out of Prince Rupert we were not due to dock in Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island until 11:30pm. The beautiful scenery changed constantly throughout the day so I spent most of the trip on deck taking it all in.

British Columbia, Canada

Hecate Strait

British Columbia, Canada

Hecate Strait

British Columbia, Canada

Ferrying through Hecate Strait

British Columbia, Canada

Butedale Falls

Sail boat in Queen Charlotte Sound, British Columbia, Canada

July 10, 2014-IMG_6932

British Columbia, Canada

Boat Bluff, Sarah Island

British Columbia, Canada

Ivory Island Lighthouse

Moonscape from the ferry

Moonscape from the ferry

Even in the dark of night the scene was lovely. Knowing my arrival would be quite late I did not book a campsite for the night, but chose to “wing it” instead. (The only night of a seven week expedition that I didn’t pre-book a campsite before crossing the border.) After disembarking in Port Hardy I drove south until I found a quiet grocery store parking lot where I could unobtrusively camp for the night. At day break we set out for Telegraph Cove… another very cool place! That and more adventures on Vancouver Island are up next!

(Please note that my Prince Rupert experience took place in early July 2014)

 

Wishing each of you who follow my journey a New Year filled with love, laughter and many happy adventures!

 

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