Starting really early again, we were expected to be present in front of the building of Tide Rip Tours in Telegraph Cove at 06:45 after a one hour drive from Port Hardy. It’s not hard to imagine this would mean a wakeup call around 05:15 to get in the right place on the right time. It did. 😉
We were promptly directed to captain Bill Mahey and his fishing boat as he would ferry us from Telegraph Cove to Glendale Cove, a solid 93 km trip up Knight’s Inlet to the bear-viewing skiffs. We primarily travelled parallel to the inlet as it gets rough when the winds start to pick up, so for about three quarters of the ride it was very smooth sailing. After we reached Glendale Cove for disembarkment and getting onto the skiffs we finally set out to do what we ultimately came for: grizzly bears.
So for, all we heard was that grizzlies are very shy, lived their lives pretty much solitary and are very weary of humans. They often keep back and stay away from activity so getting to see one is very hard.
Right off the bat, our captain told us to go look in some grass about 2km away as there ‘obviously’ was a bear present. We were a party of 4, but even with the help of 4 pairs of binoculars we seemed unable to see what the captain saw.
We started our tour of Clendale Cove off with the guide Dave, leaving Bill and his boat to eventually start preparing lunch, with covering the 2 km to the grassland the bear was feeding on. We were told the grassy stuff was Sedge grass and that the tide was coming in. The tides have a height difference of 3 metres around these days, and can even reach as much as 5.5 metres on special occasions!
Having reached the grassland, we realised it would all be underwater when the tide reached the highest point and that the bear would have to move to avoid getting wet. Around this time we noticed the bear was not alone, but it is accompanied by not one but two cubs! The guides identified her as Bella and the cubs were around 1.5 years old.
As the tide rose, the bears moved to slightly higher grounds but remained perfectly visible! The mother decided it was time to take a nap, and she did just that. Right on front of our eyes, she lay down and took a solid 30 minute map. Can you imagine 15 people on a flat boat with 15 cameras and 14 long lenses taking shots of 3 sleeping bears? I guess it must have been a hilarious sight. We were just co-existing in serenity with the bears. Each of us doing what we do best. The bears slept, and we watched. A very special situation!
By this time, we needed to go back as lunch was being served. What seemed to be very short actually grew into 120 minutes of bear watching!
Right after lunch, we had the opportunity to go back to the bears for a short visit, which we gladly took!
This time around, things got a little hairier as we positioned ourselves by accident between the bear family and the place they wanted to go! The result? One slightly disturbed guide in a hurry to get the boat out of the way, 60 shots on our cameras and 3 bears swimming to get across a few metres of water just 4 metres away from the boat. Wow.
Tomorrow some spare time, which we filled with an impromptu whale watching trip, and off to Campbell River!