The drive from Port McNeil, where I had spent the night, had been quite uneventful with the exception of a Roosevelt elk cow and her two calves, which had crossed the road just ahead of me. They had retreated back into the forest but they came back out into the open again and I was able to get a few shots of them before proceeding to Telegraph Cove. There I checked in at the office of the tour operator and munched on some muffins, which I washed down with some good, strong coffee. Now I was ready to for the adventure for which I had signed up. Out on the dock we awaited anxiously the call to board one of the three boats. I was to board the Kermode and once everybody was on board we set out on our adventure.
Once we had left the harbor the engine of the vessel came alive and we started heading out into Knight’s Inlet. Along the way we spotted some humpback whales and some sea lions. We stopped for the photo opportunities and then kept going. Of course the beautiful landscapes of British Columbia’s west coast gave some opportunities for some great shots but we were here to spot bears, especially grizzlies.
We did not have to wait very long to spot our first black bear. He spotted our boat and retreated back into the forest in an instant. No luck here.
Our next photo opportunity came in form of a humpback whale, which was diving close to the rocky shore. A steep rock cliff where cormorants were clinging to its vertical face was our next chance for some cool shots. And then we spotted our first grizzly. It was crouched over some mussels, which it was devouring with delight. Once it was finished it got up, scratched itself and nonchalantly entered the water in search of some more food along the steeper parts of the rocky shore. After a while it emerged from the water once again. Still itchy it approached a rock face and scratched itself by rubbing itself against the lichen-covered rock for some time before disappearing into the forest. There was nothing to see anymore so the engines came alive again and we went in search for other opportunities.
Our next encounter were some harbor seals, which were resting comfortably on a small rock. The boat did not even slow down on our way to another small cove. The first thing I noticed was a blue heron, which was perched high up on a fallen, moss-covered, cedar log. And then I spotted the grizzly. It was hard to recognize because only its head was showing and it blended almost perfectly in against the mussel-covered rock face. Once it had eaten its fill It climbed out of the water, water pouring from its thick yellowish-brown fur. One quick shake and it made its way along the steep slope, stopping here and there to check out more mussels before entering the water again. After some more feeding it left the water again and did some posing for us. Then, after a short walk along the shore, it disappeared into the forest and the show was over. Time to move on.
We stopped for lunch in one of the small communities along the way. When I say community I am describing a few houses with a marina attached. These are places where one can obtain fuel for their vessels or just go onto shore after a day’s sailing and moor the boat for the night. The lunch was quite nice and once we were finished we went on our way again.
We did not have to wait long for our next encounter. It was a large black bear. Once it had decided that he had attracted our attention it disappeared into the forest, just like the first one.
Another black bear garnered our attention. This one was courageous and stayed around for a little while to be photographed. But we were here to look for grizzlies so we left the black bear and kept on going. A grizzly sow and her three cubs attracted our attention. She saw our boat, collected her cubs and vanished into the forest.
By now it was late afternoon and our guide told us that we were going to check one more spot before heading back to Telegraph Cove. And we were in luck! This grizzly was the most entertaining of them all. It posed, nibbled on some berries in the bushes. It then entered the water where a leaf attracted his attention. It played with it for a while then decided to show off the power of its jaws by ripping kelp to shreds. It did some more posing and then disappeared into the forest just like all the other bears.
The boat’s powerful engine came to life for the last time as we headed back to Telegraph Cove. All in all it had not been a bad day: it had started out slow but ended with a bang. On to my next adventure, whatever it will be.
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