It is the beginning of the Spirit Bear trip. This is a photography workshop trip run by Brad Hill of Natural Art Images, with the help of Tom of Oceanlight. The morning is cloudy but dry so our 45 min flight by Beaver float plane is made in really good conditions. Our pilot with a steady hand flies within meters of towering peaks now beginning to be sprinkled with snow, we see gorgeous mountain lakes nestled in little depressions on the hills, a few mountain goats and even an impressive glacier up close. The pilot tells us about some of his flights in including the hunting parties. It is clear that he feels eco-tourism and not hunting is what should happen in the area. He has a standard line to the hunters he brings in. ” You shoot an animal and all you bring is a trophy and not the whole carcass, make sure you know how to walk out of here!”
The water landing is very smooth and we board the Oceanlight II a 71 foot yacht to start our 7 day journey through the Great Bear Rainforest – Spirit Bear.
As the only couple André and I get the double bed room in the bow of the boat. It has some 6 foot clearance at the hatch level. We settle in and already Tom the captain has the boat moving at 12 knots. Weather is fine and no rain so far. We get to our destination where we will try and see some Spirit bears. This is a black bear that is born white when two black bears with a recessive gene mate.
The creek the viewing platforms are built above is full of spawning salmon, this is the Coho variety of salmon. We don’t have to wait long before the first black bear wonders out of the bush and starts fishing. It is such a treat to watch these fat bears balance on logs and rocks, sauntering along the creek and with ease fishing the salmon out. They stay where they catch the fish and with great dexterity consume the bulk of the salmon in a few bites. We get to see many bears sometimes as many as three at once, all tolerating each others presence as they stock up for winter hibernation. The bears give us the occasional sniff but are totally not bothered some come up close to where we are and I get some great fishing video footage. We also get to see 3 separate white Spirit bears. An amazing experience it is hard to believe that anyone could or would want to pull the trigger on these magnificent creatures.
For more information on protecting this amazing area, see Pacific Wild.