We leave Ucluelet and drive north to Port MacNeill, through endless miles of greenery. The rainy winter and spring have been good for the forest. It is lush, green and dense. We see a few logging trucks burdened with heavy loads, but the clearcuts are well hidden. We wonder how it would be possible to take too many trees? There are just so many.
We see so many bald eagle that we stop counting. Soaring above the trees or perched on high branches, they rule the skies.
Port MacNeill and Port Hardy are at the northeastern edge of the island, where the forest meets the sea. Here the intersection of aboriginal heritage, the logging and fishing industries and tourism makes for an interesting cultural milieu.
The point of this portion of the trip is to see grizzly bear and to that end I’ve signed us up for a day of boating up Knight Inlet
the road north. We get an early start, just as the sun is rising. There are 8 of us plus our three guides. The other tourists are three European couples. The guides are twenty-something guys with tremendous enthusiasm for nature.
Two hours of cruising up the inlet, past bald eagles, sea lion, seals & dolphins gets us to a dock where we change boats for a smaller, flatter “viewing skiff”. The guys have already seen a couple of bear on the shore and we quickly motor over to a position about 100 yards away from them. Of most interest is Bella and her three cubs, born last year. A short distance away is Spirit, Bella’s three year old cub, now on her own.
Not long out of hibernation, the grizzlies are thin and intent on eating, consuming up to 40,000 calories a day. Mostly we watch them eat sedge grass!
Later we spot another grizzly, Freya, with two newborn cubs. Because she is a protective mother and our boat spooks the cubs, they retreat into the forest before we get much of a look at them.
While trying to find Freya and her cubs along the shore, we come upon another mother grizzly and her newborn
Telegraph Cove. The guys don’t recognize her and so don’t have a name for her. This cub seems to be curious about us and while she sticks close to mom, she also frequently peeks at us.
That evening Craig’s 61st birthday dinner at the local steakhouse is somewhat subdued. We’ve been up since 0530, spent the day on a boat in rainy weather and the various drugs I’ve taken to stave off sea-sickness are interacting with the wine we order at dinner. Not the most festive birthday party. But, what a day!
The next day, Friday, we drive back down the coast, south to Comox, for the 10 AM ferry across to the mainland, to Powell River. The sun finally shows and we have a spectacular crossing. The ferry from Saltery Bay to Earl’s Cove is even more spectacular as the coast mountains with their snowy peaks rise up to the east.
We arrive at Rock Water resort at Half-moon Bay just as the sun is setting. We are staying in a “tent” overlooking the water. Our deck is bathed in late afternoon sun.
As we sit and sip and contemplate the week we wonder what it is that draws us to the far corners of the globe when there is so much to see and do in our own backyard?