Sunday, 16 October 2011

Rain does not stop play

A weekend of two brilliant halves:

Part I:  Meeting the family

It took a scanned family tree sent from my mum to explain exactly how I was related to the Pielou branch of the Hancock family, our rugged Canadian island living relatives.  A late Friday night arrival due to the inability to distinguish between the 19 and 19A highways on Vancouver Island did not phase my first cousin twice removed, Chris Pielou, in her eighties.  A pioneering ecologist in the midst of writing her latest book, she took up sea kayaking at 75 with an easy trip to Patagonia and her most recent trip was to the Artic where a wolf eyeballed her through the flap of her tent.  Awesome. 

We then headed up the Island to catch a tiny ferry to Quadra Island; inhabited by 3,000 fishermen, loggers and artisan craftsmen, the latter including a host of second cousins, once, twice and thrice removed with such varied jobs and activities as guitar maker, social worker, museum curator, microbiologist, mountain bike trail maker, snow camper, yacht sailor and 7th grader.  All totally fabulous and very very welcoming considering we invited ourselves for thanksgiving dinner (you get to have Christmas twice a year in Canadia!).  

Then onto Part 2:  Meeting the Grizzlies

Fairly torrential rain did not dampen my spirits on the 90km small boat ride up the BC coastline to Bute Inlet to meet our native guide to hunt for grizzly bears.  A mini bus took the four of us (two guides, me and a crazy Belgian) to various viewing platforms along the river, watching for bears busy fattening up on post-spawning dying salmon.  

I hoped to catch a glimpse of one, and was incredibly luck to see four:  the first sauntering along the river; then a mother and cub devouring decaying salmon (yum) about 15 metres away from me; and finally a female digging intently for salmon eggs under the gravel.  Bear number 1 made a reappearance near the egg-digger but as the was the smaller less dominant female, kept her distance till the coast was clear, although not quite far enough to prevent a standpoint in the river... 

I've been lucky enough to see some great wildlife spectacles, but this was a pretty incredible one.  If you ever need a grizzly bear watching recommendation; try Aboriginal Journeys: 
And here are some extra piccies: 

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