by Maggie Cole
I can’t express enough how happy I am to have come up here on the first Birds, Bears & Belugas departure of the summer. We saw polar bears every day, either at the lodge or out on our walks.
I noticed there was a lot of polar bear activity at night around the lodge. Almost every night there would be different bears coming and going. One of the guests, Ulf, said to me, “It’s like polar bear rush hour!” I even got to see a mom and cub of the year (COY) stroll by at 11:30 p.m. and it was the sweetest moment to experience. At one point they had heard something outside and the cub ran and hid under mom’s legs. That was pretty cute.
Aside from the polar bears, the guides did an excellent job of explaining other wildlife in the area, along with all the plants and flowers you can see on the Hudson Bay Coast. We also had a chance to touch permafrost. We stuck our hand down in a crack in the ground and was surprised by how cold it was.
We saw areas on the coast where there had been human settlements hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago, and circles on the ground formed by rocks, which held down tents.
The weather wasn’t always in our favour, as it rained and was very windy, but that didn’t stop us from going out on our walks. Sometimes it becomes part of the journey and makes for a good story. The wind did keep the mosquitoes away!
We did an ATV tour down to the mouth of the Seal River. It was a fun ride, and we got stuck a few times, but we worked together as a team and had some laughs. We saw a polar bear standing out in the water on a rock, and Terry (guide Terry Elliott) said that it was one of the polar bears that hunt beluga whales.
The polar bears will sit on the rocks and wait until the tide comes in, and when a beluga whale swims by they will jump on them. It was cool to see the bear out there in the act, although no beluga whales were around.
We also had a chance to go into “Jack’s Cabin,” a small cabin on the coast of Hudson Bay used by anyone who needed somewhere to stay for the night or who got weathered in. It was polar bear proof with covered windows and door. Visitors would write notes and messages on the walls, dating back years ago. It was neat to see what animals they saw on their trips.
After our journey we had a quick lunch on the tundra; soup, sandwiches and hot chocolate, and then headed back to the lodge.
I was very impressed with the meals at the lodge. Based on Churchill Wild’s bestselling cookbook series Blueberries & Polar Bears, every day there was something different with a unique twist. My favourite meal was the smoked ribs – they were delicious. To top it off, we had wild cranberry cake with warm butter sauce and jam made from berries picked right at the lodge!