The Great Bear Rainforest 1 October 5, 2018
After our Yellowstone trip so many of you responded with such interest in our wildlife photos and adventures that we recently set out on a 10 day adventure into The Great Bear Rainforest along the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. Over the course of several days of driving to the grizzly forest we enjoyed beautiful mountains, glaciers, rivers, forest and ranch lands and many small communities of people. Unfortunately, this Summer has been another harsh fire season and our drive over the high mountain plateau took us through miles and miles of burned up forest.
An early snow up on the plateau almost caught up to us, fortunately we avoided the storm by driving down the 15-20% grade to our destination in the spectacular Bella Coola valley where the glacier fed rivers meet the sea.
This massive wilderness of nearly 6.5 million hectares has been inhabited for thousands of years by local indigenous people, often referred to as First Nations in Canada, and even longer by wildlife, forests, glaciers and salmon filled waterways. In the last few years the indigenous people, private interests and government developed a conservation management plan in an effort to maintain the area so that many future generations of animals and people will be able to enjoy. We understand that tourism impacts on land and wildlife carry great responsibility, solutions may be to prohibit the impacts altogether. Whatever decisions local people make, we certainly hope they succeed in allowing a sustainable ecosystem to exist.
Fishing, logging, mining, hunting, tourism, ranching, farming, sustainable living are just some of the concerns facing the Bella Coola area people. While issues remain, the indigenous people and local settlers are working towards harmony on how best to live with their neighbors, the grizzly and black bears, wolves, cougars, eagles, salmon and much more wildlife.
Electric fences seem to be one practice that at least deters the bears from getting too close to people's homes...and it also seems to help the small farm animals live a more stress free life as well.
For us tourists, the indigenous people and Provincial Parks have established one viewing platform with electric fencing which is open just one month a year while the Fall salmon return to spawn and feed the hungry bears as they fatten up for their long Winter hibernation. Having enough salmon return each year is critical for this ecosystem in numerous ways, one being that if the impregnated female bears have enough nutrition they will generally give birth to two or three cubs who will see their first sunlight around next April.
While in the valley, as soon as we woke up, we would make our coffee, load up our camera gear and make the 30 minute drive from our cabin to the two main viewing places, Fisheries and Belarko. Most of the day was spent waiting for the bears to wander along the river fishing and foraging but we kept busy meeting other tourists and learning from the local indigenous people and Park rangers. Lot's of great travel adventure conversations, bear stories and sharing of photos.
It was really hard to leave the bears and their home, but we had our home to get back to as well. The first part of our journey home had us departing Bella Coola on a 10 hour ferry ride through the mountainous fjords and along the Spirit Bear coastline to Port Hardy. Although in the distance, we felt fortunate to easily see the spouts of humpback and gray whales as they continue their trip to Maui or Mexico to give birth The next few days involved a slow drive down the whole inside coast of Vancouver Island and then a quick 3 hour ferry back to the mainland. All along the journey, whether on ferries or at little fishing harbors and ports many seals would pop up to greet us and say hello.
Over the next few days I will share some of our grizzly encounter photos and stories with you.
With Peace & Love,