Chris & Helen Rose visited Knight Inlet Lodge in the middle of August this year and have been kind enough to share some of their photos with us. In my opinion they are some of the best we have seen in awhile. Thank you Chris & Helen.
It was a clear October (2009) morning as we departed Campbell River on Vancouver Island Air’s turbo Otter. We could see for miles in every direction and had amazing views of all the grand mountain peaks and fjords of the BC Coast as we flew into Knight Inlet Lodge in Glendale Cove. On the flight was our family of four and six other guests. As it was near the end of the season Knight Inlet Lodge was able to accommodate our family with our two children Zach 8 and Clem 6
Within an hour of arriving at the lodge we were viewing our first grizzly bears – a sow and her cub in the estuary. These would be the first of many that we would see during our two-day stay at the lodge. In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch, we went up to the ‘Weir viewing stand’ to try and see more bears. Another sow with two cubs were there feeding on the abundant salmon when we arrived and two more quickly joined them. Our guide Jamie explained that there was a good return of Pink and Chum salmon this year so the bears had lots to eat. It appeared as so as the bears could easily and effortlessly scoop up salmon with their paws or their mouths.
When we returned to the lodge we had the option of participating in a marine cruise up Knight Inlet, which we were all eager to join. Highlights of the cruise included waterfalls, humpback whales and Dahl’s porpoise all within an hours boat ride from the lodge. Our guide also shared some stories and legends from local First Nations people. After dinner we were treated to an interpretive talk by one of the naturalists. Then it was a quick hot tub before bed.
With all the highlights of our first day I wondered what was in store for us on our second day. I wondered if we would see the blond grizzly cub the guides were talking about. After breakfast our guide Jamie offered to take just our family on an interpretive walk to find animal tracks and other signs of wildlife. He brought along some plaster to make some casts if we found some good animal tracks. We did find lots of great tracks of bear, wolf and cougar among others, but the best were two perfect deep grizzly tracks in a sand bar by the river. While we let the plaster set Jamie took us back to the ‘Weir viewing stand’ and then to the ‘Finger viewing stand’. Like the day before we saw lots of bears, and yes we also saw the blond cub.
That afternoon we went on a family paddle in the lodge’s kayaks. We paddled up into the estuary to see the ducks and sea birds. The boys got a bit chilled so we warmed up in the hot tub when we returned to the lodge. After another great dinner and interpretive presentation we retired to our comfortable suite. We spent the next morning lazing around and checking out the Lodge’s salmon hatchery before departing. Jaime gave the kids the plaster casts of the bear tracks we made the day before. They were all nicely wrapped and safe for the trip home. There couldn’t be better souvenirs from our stay.
Thanks to Dean and Kathy and everyone at Knight Inlet Lodge for two amazing days of adventure, learning and exploration. The tour package was seamless right down to every detail, from start to finish. We look forward to our next adventure in British Columbia’s wilderness.
Evan, Sue, Zack and Clem Loveless
In the presence of bears
Water laps at the edges of the boat as the tide ebbs, the comforting, familiar sound of the Glendale River adds perfect a background to the scene before us. I’m standing in the water knee-deep, holding onto my boatload of British tourists stationary in the river, keeping our position between Luke’s boat upstream and Shawn’s boat downstream. Our three boats float quietly together, all of us focused on the creature standing on the opposite riverbank. We’re watching a beautiful sub-adult female grizzly bear named Bonnie go about her business as if we weren’t there at all.
The sights and sounds can almost overwhelm the senses here some days, but this morning is calm and quiet; rain is softly falling in Glendale Cove, onto Bonnie and her viewers on this slightly soggy spring morning. All we can hear is distant bird song from the forest, the occasional bald eagle that flies over, calling out to us as it goes, camera shutters snapping away and Bonnie’s contented munching on the estuary sedge grass.
We sit quietly, the enthralled viewers barely moving a muscle as this little grizzly allows us to join her for breakfast. Bonnie tears off mouthful after mouthful of the sedge grass, occasionally flicking her intelligent brown eyes towards us, making sure we’re behaving ourselves. She pads almost silently through the long grass, out onto the stones of the riverbank and sits down, nose high in the air, reading the messages on the breeze.
The tide is quickly retreating from the river now, and reluctantly Luke, Shawn and I pull ourselves and our guests away from the beautiful little bear and start heading down river. My guests make remarks about how they can’t believe we sat silently and watched her for almost half an hour, but then again it’s always surprising how fast the time goes in the presence of bears.
They know no concept of time as humans do – it’s meal time when they’re hungry and the tide is right, it’s play time when they feel playful and it’s nap time when they’re tired. Spring and summer for the bears are spent fattening up and possibly finding a mate when the time is right; fall is all about eating as many salmon brains and eggs as possible and winter is for hibernation. When they wake up the following spring, they awake as a slimmer, older and wiser version of their former selves.
At least one species of British Columbians have it figured out…
I’m back up here for my second season as a guide at Knight Inlet Lodge, and as always, Glendale Cove and all its inhabitants never cease to amaze. In my first 10-day shift of the season I’ve seen eight different grizzly bears, a handful of black bears, the rear end of a fast-retreating wolf, four transient killer whales, almost a hundred dolphins and on my last day of the shift, was lucky enough to find two humpback whales bubble feeding just outside of the cove – a rare sighting up here.
Rain or shine it’s beautiful here – this place enchants the people that visit with the birds and the beasts, the mountains, the ocean and the rainforest itself. I consider myself to be entirely addicted.
Words can’t do it justice – you’ll just have to come and see for yourselves.
Looking forwards to seeing you on the dock.
“Spring has arrived and the lodge is open. Familiar furry faces are popping up everywhere and it’s shaping out to be a strong beginning to the season for us. We’ve been open for a week now and already we’ve had multiple bear sightings in the estuary and the other morning we were woken up early by the blows of transient orcas in the estuary. A small pod of four patrolled the cove twice in the day hopeful for the opportunity to feed on one of the many harbour seals and pacific white-sided dolphins that are abundant in the Inlet at this time of year. We had an excellent view of the whales before they gave up their search in the cove and made their way back out of the inlet.
We are pleased to announce that the moms and cubs are very strong at the moment. Lenora and her yearling cub Peanut have been regularily spotted in the estuary, and to our delight our famous white cub from last fall is out with her two siblings and impressive looking mother. One small subadult has also been sighted feeding on the protein-rich sedge that’s coming up quickly in the estuary.”
This story contributed by Jamie Scarrow, Knight Inlet Lodge Head Naturalist and professioanl photgrapher. To see some of Jamie’s photos
The Knight Inlet Lodge is a unique experience. You see a lot of wild life and the guides at the lodge are very kind, spontaneous and full of wild life knowledge.
We were really lucky and saw a lot of: grizzly bears, black bears, seals and bald eagles.
Speaking of these wonderful bears: we have seen at least 12 different bears! We watched the bears from a boat, from a tree stand and on a tour in the forest. Look at our pictures to see the bears catching salmon, walking around, swimming…
We also we went on a motor boat and made a tour of the fjord: enjoying the peaceful surroundings and a beautiful rainbow. Then back to Campbell River with a floatplane.
We made a tour of a month in the West of Canada but these two days at this lodge were the highlights of our trip.
We are fond of the bears. A fantastic experience!!
Knights Inlet, Sept. 2009 four days that will be etched in my memory forever and when my memory fails, I have my photos to look back on (thanks to Phil and team for returning my camera after I left it behind).
The people you meet. Being an animal person myself I have little time for people. However through the common goal of seeing grizzly bears in the wild we some how magically came to know those strangers sitting across from us at Vancouver airport. In fact we now email one another to share our stories and photos of our great adventure at Knights Inlet.
Day one involved boarding a small plane (I did not realize the planes would get smaller as the trip progressed) in Vancouver and flying to Campbell River. On arrival at Campbell River we were taken to our accommodation. Whilst researching my bear holiday I noted in blogs people were dissatisfied with having to stop over at Campbell River the night prior to continuing onto the bears. Well all I can say is make the most of it, see the museum, watch the tall cruise ships out on the horizon, enjoy the wild weather, which makes that meal at the local eatery all that much better. Then finally walk back to the accommodation, watch a bride get married out on the pier and wonder what was she thinking, wonder how the locals live, take photos of the old Chinese monument, the driftwood and gigantic kelp that lay in the water, enjoy the wild weather and the emotions of anticipation of what lays ahead.
As we arrive at the float plane terminal we see two tiny, small, minute, float planes moored at the jetty. The weather is dark and stormy and we are supposed to get on these things, oh my god, what we do to see grizzly bears in the wild. Anyways it goes to say, they got us there safely.
As we get to the other end we are greeted by a leprechaun of a looking man playing an accordion and two dogs jumping around with excitement as we land. We are quickly debriefed and given the guided tour and then loaded into awaiting tinnies. As we come around the first bend, not more than five minutes from our camp we spot a grizzly and her two cubs. The cameras go wild and the scene is set. We sat and watched in ore for about half hour.
We then moved on to find more bears and wildlife such as eagles. On return to camp we were served a delicious lunch. After lunch we tried to figure out what clothes we were suppose to wear to go up the river to view the scenery. Was it the red suit with the green boots or the blue suit with the red hat hmmm? Any ways I think we got it right in the end as we stayed dry and warm, even after our tour guide tried to drown us under a waterfall.
After our sightseeing tour we returned to camp for a much earned cup of coffee and cake, oh so yummy. Next we boarded and old school bus and were taken down a windy track to the bear lookouts. There was a bit of waiting for the bears to turn up obviously someone failed to let them know we were coming. However while we waited we did get to learn about the tragic life of a salmon. If you ever think your life sucks remember the poor salmon. Just as we were about to leave, a bear decided to grace us with his or her presence. We all watched the bear fish for salmon, shredding them with its large claws. Cameras were going crazy, people were whispering amongst themselves and jostling for a better viewing spot. At this stage a good lens would have come in handy, which sadly we did not have. However those kind strangers from the airport lent us one of their lenses so we could get better photos, thankyou. You think that would be enough for the day. We returned to camp to sit down to a great meal and discuss the days adventures with our fellow bear enthusiasts. Later that night we were entertained with an informative talk on whales. We then returned to our cabin and sat up to midnight talking to our Aussie cabin mates. What a day.
Up bloody early the next morning, I was still tired from the day prior. Following a yummy breakfast, pancakes yum o. How did they know they are my favourite? We headed out to look for more bears. It wasn’t to long a wait and cameras and people once again were in a frenzy. More great photos.
Today we were asked what we wanted to do. We were given the choice of whale watching, kayaking, or bear poo tracking. Well what can I say, bear poo tracking hands down! Where there is bear poo (scat) there are bears. Plus we got to learn about the bear’s habitat, their rubbing trees, their sleepy holes etc. However the highlight of this little tour was seeing how gullible my husband was. Our guide told us that if we licked a slug, not just any little garden slug, it was a big blob of a thing with spots that made your tongue go numb. Your name would go down in history. In other words you got to put you name in a book at the lodge to signify that you were stupid enough to lick a grose slug. Well guess who volunteered? I’m glad they didn’t tell him to run naked through the bush with honey all over him to attract the bears, who knows what would have happened.
We were fed well through out the day and given multiple opportunities to view bears. Later that evening we were provided an in service on the mythology of whales or bears, something like that. On return to our cabin the Aussie house mates had a rip roaring fire, a few yarns were passed around and once again after midnight we retired to bed.
My husband was up at four in the morning suffering from a cold or maybe the slug had shared something more than a numb tongue. He was sitting in the lounge of our cabin when he was given his own private comedy show, presented by the one and only knights inlet otters. He tried to ply me out of bed to watch the antics of the otters, but I wearily mumbled “im tired”, I was exhausted. In the morning he told me of the show that they put on and how they kept setting off the night sensor lights as they would pitter patter across the deck. I now regretted not getting out of bed to see them.
Early to rise once again. As I did with each morning I sat on the front deck of the cabin and just enjoyed the moment and the scenery. However this morning was different, I started to hear gurgling noises coming from behind me, was the cabin sinking? Then I noticed splashes here and there in the water. Finally a little head popped up in front of me. It was a little furry faced otter (not official binomial nomenclature – scientific name). He was checking to see if the coast was clear. He looked at me and I at him, he wasn’t going to risk it. He then with his entourage of otters swam over to the moored tinnies. Somehow the next thing I know they are all in the tinnies rolling around playing like little kittens. Well the dogs wanted in on the game, however the otters are a bit selective of whom they play. I came to this conclusion as the otters hastily exited the tinnies and speared back into the water to return to where ever it was they came. As legend goes they live under the end cabin at Knight Inlet Lodge. Hence apart from the bears those otters were the high light of our holiday and to elusive to be photographed.
After breakfast we did a quick trip up the estuary for some last minute bear viewing. We then reboarded the float plane to return home, people were a lot quieter now. I’m gathering they were doing what I was and reflecting back on what a great holiday it was, and how sad I was to be leaving. Thank you to all of you at Knights Inlet. Tracy Dean and Graham Badke, Queensland, Australia.
White grizzly cub video Hey all,
We’re just about to finish things up here in Glendale Cove for the bear season. It’s been a season of fantastic weather and the bears, dolphins and whales have been really spectacular. This area never disappoints.
Stealing the show in the September and October has been our local celebrity bear cub who is quite uniquely coloured. I’ve seen light cubs before but never one as uniformly creamy white as this one. It’s very common for new cubs to have whitish highlights, especially under the chin, chest and shoulders areas, but this cub is more cream than brown it seems. Really quite spectacular as you can see in the video (top left of article) I’ve attached. The mother of this one and his/her two siblings (we think it’s a her) has quite the reputation in the area as well. She is by far the most dominant one around at the moment and it’s usual to see all the others bears giving her a wide birth. She has a lot of mouths to feed, not to mention herself and that tends to make a bear a bit more aggressive.
Hopefully she’ll keep the cubs safe and bring them back next year for us to appreciate again.
It will be sad to say goodbye to the bears and staff of Knight Inlet Lodge as it always is. We had an amazing team of guides this season, our cooks were absolutely amazing, and our dock staff kept things ship-shape and entertaining. Every lodge needs a Kemshaw! Harold as always was the unsung, quiet hero — the man is responsible for so much around here. I’m looking forward to working with them all next season.
I’m off to the Antarctic next for my winter work, but will hopefully meet some of you blog readers next bear season at the lodge.
If you’d like you can keep up with my travels and check out some of my photography on my website. www.jamiescarrow.com.
The spring of 2009 has seen Orca Whales appear twice in Glendale Cove where our lodge is located. While this is unusual it is not unheard of compared to the Humpback Whale that stopped by for a visit at the end of May. For a few early season guests that were fortunate enough to be out on a marine tour this was truly their lucky day! We do not expect these sightings to continue right at our back door but we are looking forward to an excellent season of whale watching in 2009. Of course if the whales do continue to show up in Glendale Cove we won’t complain!