Often on my trip to Banff with my parents, we’d go for a drive after supper and take in the sights. One night we were driving through the Tunnel Mountain Campground and came upon a herd of elk. It was after 10 o’clock so the light wasn’t that great, and I don’t really even remember taking this picture specifically, but I’m happy I did. I have bad night vision, especially at dusk! This one is edited quite a bit.
I love bears! This trip came to be when I googled “bear watching” back in November and looking to do something memorable to celebrate the “big 4-0” this year. This trip was so much more than just bear watching, but to be able to watch bears munching on grass while being perfectly aware of seven people watching them from a zodiac was definitely one of the highlights.
To give you some perspective, this is how far this male grizzly was from us…
The inlet where we saw this bear (actually we saw three bears in this inlet) is protected from hunting, which is likely why the bears seemed comfortable with us being so close as they may have not had bad experiences with humans. Trish and Eric, our guides, are fairly frequent visitors to the inlet, and have such a deep respect and admiration for these animals, so the way we approached them in the zodiac was always very slowly, quietly (we were strongly encouraged not to talk if we were in an area where we might see a bear) and on the bears’ terms. The bears certainly knew we were there, but there was never a hint of aggression towards us being there.
To give you a little more perspective of what the inlet looks like and where we were when we saw this bear (and a female grizzly close by the following day), here we are floating back down the river. I love bears, but the scenery was pretty awesome, too.
This is Part 3 of my adventures in the Great Bear Rainforest.
We spent two nights at our first anchorage. This was one of the views…
We found Fuzzy the three year old Grizzly Trish and Eric have been following since he was a wee cub (Fuzzy is the name they’ve given him). He’s now weaned from his mother and is left to fend for himself (although we found his Mom in the estuary in the same inlet – pics to follow in a later post). Bears are protected from hunting in this particular inlet so they are not quite so skittish around people. Fuzzy seemed perfectly aware and content with our presence. So, I felt comfortable, too. Trish and Eric have been visiting this inlet for many years and I’m sure the bears sense that they are a non-threatening presence. It was a very unique experience to be able to not only have time to take pictures, but also to just stop and watch a bear in its natural environment.
There is an abundance of wildlife in Banff National Park and there is also a major highway (The TransCanada) running through the park connecting Banff and Lake Louise. In order to to give the bears, wolves, elk, moose and all the other wildlife an opportunity to move safely throughout the park there are many underpasses and a few overpasses especially for them.
(So no these are not pedestrian friendly!)
I am terrified and fascinated by bears. If I sleep in a tent at a campground where there could be bears (and it’s been a few years since I’ve slept in a tent), I don’t sleep until the sun comes up. I hear every noise – every squirrel scurrying up a tree, every coyote howling way off in the distance miles away (but it sounds like it’s right outside my tent!), the pine trees rustling in the wind. I hear it all. But even though my heart was pounding for hours on end and I only slept a few hours at most, I sort of loved it!
On this trip to Jasper, I camped with my parents in their trailer, and I slept well every night! We did a lot of day trips and spotted bears four separate times. I was able to take pictures three of the four times. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen bears so close and it was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
According to the Jasper guidebook I had handy on the trip, this is a Clark’s Nutcracker. These were taken at the Endless Chain mountain road side pull-out on the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff. I really wanted to see mountain goats on this trip, but they proved elusive. I settled for buying an art print of a mountain goat at a store in Jasper.