So what does one do when COVID-19 shuts down a summer season of guests visiting our ecolodges and takes away our opportunities to make some wonderful new friends? Create a new expedition, of course, in anticipation of being able to power into 2021 with our best season ever at Churchill Wild.
Nolan Booth and his hard-working team of carpenters and painters are busy at North Knife Lake Lodge, already well into the summer maintenance and upgrade program we initiated for all the lodges. They’ve got this.
Having lodge owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer, and original lodge owners Doug and Helen Webber, milling about nitpicking the quality of this team’s efforts would be more than a stressful trial for all, so we banished them to Seal River Heritage Lodge on the Hudson Bay coast. Oh, the hardships and horrors!
Stunning vistas of glorious sea ice alive with hundreds of seals basking in the blazing Arctic spring sun with polar bears on the prowl looking for an easy meal! One old boy was so stuffed he slept the day away on his comfortable icy mattress surrounded by dozens of definitely-not-sleeping prey who kept a watchful eye on his lordship.
The open leads are filled with rafts of sea birds, countless shorebirds and nesting waterfowl that keep us serenaded through the dark free northern nights, not to mention a world-class 5-Star lodge all to ourselves and Helen and Jeanne, two of the finest chefs in the Arctic, catering to Doug and Mike’s every — okay almost every — whim.
This would have been the first week of catch-and-release fishing at North Knife Lake Lodge, one of the most pristine lakes in the world. Normally, the lake would be fished by a maximum of 48 guests per year. This year, the monster pike and lake trout will be doing the fishing themselves, for each other.
This would also have been go-time to ready the ecolodges for the first polar bear safari of the summer season, Birds, Bears and Belugas at Seal River Heritage Lodge. Still, it can’t all be fun and games. Even the old timers eventually have to stop eating delicious food while spotting wildlife and get busy doing something. This is the Canadian Arctic, it’s eerily quiet, and they risk going stir crazy.
Churchill Wild purchased two SHERPS in 2019 and created an adventure division known as Trans-Arctic Expeditions, with the goal being to discover/create new experiences for our discerning guests. One of our first goals was to explore the possibilities of creating our very own Floe Edge Adventures, utilizing the SHERPS to gain access to a whole new world of wildlife adventures.
So, create we did! And with smashing success, according to the amazed participants on our inaugural expedition to the edge of the ice.
This truly wild adventure included spotting seals and polar bears, sea kayaking in open leads, climbing magnificent ice jambs and observing scores of sea birds, culminating in a sumptuous picnic on the ice next to a seal hole while drinking hot coffee and Baileys!
Look for this spectacular new Arctic safari from Churchill Wild to be offered in the spring of 2021 to a select few guests. We miss you.
All of you.