Bonnie Nash was a guest on our Arctic Safari at Seal River Heritage Lodge and Schmok Lake this fall, and kindly allowed us to reprint her journal from the adventure here. No one can describe a polar bear safari at Churchill Wild better than a guest, and Bonnie’s journal is a poignant reminder of that.
Bonnie’s group of nine were all from Los Angeles, except for National Geographic photojournalist Jad Davenport, who is from Denver. Everyone in the group got along famously, and Bonnie’s journal sums up the trip beautifully.
Thank you Bonnie!
Bonnie’s Arctic Safari Journal
An idea was born.
A trip to Uganda in 2014 to see the gorillas.
After some research – the Arctic Safari was planned for 2020 with friends and travel buddies, and we all know how that changed.
So here we are in 2022 unsure of what we would see, dreaming of polar bears and northern lights.
A surprise at every turn.
Our first day filled with dreams come true.
A polar bear to welcome us at our front door — walking quietly and whispering to snap every post.
Scores of beluga whales shining white and gray babies coming close.
And northern lights – green and pink in our night sky.
Hikes and scenery unexpected, vibrant colors of red and green, muted tones of yellow and tan, skies filled with layers and layers and layers of clouds.
A sense of still and vibrancy, mixed with the beauty of an untouched land.
Buggy rides and mud.
Laughter and stories.
But no animals cross our paths.
Friends reunited and new friends made.
A mid-week thank you for dreams come true.
And more to come.
10:16 p.m. — a knock at the door.
The dancing and swirls of Northern Lights envelop us.
The color and curtains.
Movement and stillness.
A night sky filled with awe.
Yearning for more polar bears, we prepare for our morning hike.
Happily, derailed by two polar bears at the lodge.
Quietly watching, snapping pictures.
Moving from platform to platform.
We watch yet another “dance” and whisper in awe.
An afternoon hike takes us once more to see the beauty, the ancient history, and the remoteness.
Of this far-flung locale.
Rob’s diary, Terry’s test brings laughter to all.
Topped by Jess’s fantastic slide show of the best of the best.
Now we prepare for the unknown.
We wait and wait and wait — quietly hoping we don’t get stranded somewhere.
Two planes later we see the bright yellow tents that will be our home for the next two days.
Shivering from cold and anticipation we walk through the water, over a bridge to get to our Arctic tents.
A bit more rugged than I imagined but the heater and the bathroom hit the mark!
Ah, how I love my mud boots, and floater jacket and raincoat and rain pants and smart wool and fleece and gloves and hat and scarves — Did I forget anything?
A howling night and finally sleep.
Our hikes filled with color – red, yellow, fuchsia, pink, orange, green.
Miniature forest, surprising ferns, blueberries, lingonberries, cranberries.
Spruce and tamarack.
Truly the beauty of the fall colors changing before our very eyes.
Rocks and liken eskers and bogs, views that are impossible to capture.
Our very own “whale rock” a new monument for the Tundra Camp.
Ben and Nicole for smiles galore and great hospitality.
Terry and Jess for your expertise, your openness to share your passion, your life’s stories.
Jad — bigger than life joy — for creating stories, awakening the senses, teaching us the beauty shot, the kicker shot and so much more — thank you for helping us expand our own life’s stories.
Casey and Clarissa — I am not getting on a scale — meals delicious, warm, and hearty and filling.
To the staff — Maddie and Mikayla and the invisible Tyler.
My apologies if I forgot someone — thank you for making us part of the Churchill Wild family.
Mike and Jeannie – thank you for your love of the land and a vision to share it.
Thank you all to my dearest friends for exploring the world together.
Note to self — don’t wait too long to plan our next adventure.