Forecast is calling for 70km/h winds tonight and heaps of snow. I am not too sure this will materialize as forecasts are notoriously wrong this time of year but the wind seems to be picking up (albeit from the east instead of the north) and we’ve had a few snowflakes already.
Still, it is 1C so unless a cold front moves in quickly, most of the snow will fall as rain today. This reminds me a bit of 2000 season when it rained through most bear season right up until November 2nd. I mean we watched soaking wet bears grazing on lime grass and crowberries on Halloween, it was weird.
Anyway, today made me think of how the season has changed over the last 14 years. When I started in 1999, I was the second last buggy driver to start his shift and I arrived on October 5th. Back then, it was chaos getting off the train in Churchill. There was a mish-mash of buses randomly parked, tour company reps trying to gather clients and recruit more, locals coming home with boxes upon boxes of groceries and a bunch of ATCO trailers pretending to be a train station. Amidst all of this, Ken the Tundra Buggy guy somehow found me and the conversation kind of went like…
‘Hey you look lost, Are you the new buggy driver?’
‘Um, yeah I guess so.’
‘Well, would you mind driving today? Here’s the keys.’
‘Sure, but I don’t know any of the trails though.’
‘That’s okay, follow Ernie. Your bus is right there, everyone is loaded and waiting.’
‘But who’s Ernie…?’
‘You’ll find him, okay I have to go! And don’t use the brakes on the bus, they’re not quite hooked up!’
Those were fun days actually, a lot more independent travellers, a lot more chaos and more people wandering around Churchill wondering what the hell they had just done. Of course, Churchill grows on you quickly and everyone usually left with a pretty memorable experience.
Now, its still fun but most people are steered towards group travel and the groups don’t really start until late October. The whole season seems to have shifted by two weeks or so, not really sure when that happened but it did. Back then, my contract with Tundra Buggy ended on November 8th… now the season runs until the 21st or maybe even the 24th.
So there’s not real doubt that weather has changed here, there’s a fair bit of argument over how much it has changed or whether it is continually and exponentially changing though. The story running around town this year is that the bears were here well into December but that is just wrong… I watched them leave and have video of polar bear alert releasing bears on November 22nd last year. Later than it used to be but not really that late…
But enough reminiscing, time to go look for bears and maybe get stuck in the process.