Well, it is peak bear season right now so another good day to be in Buggyland with Churchill Wild’s Dymond Lake group. These folks had a nice mix of experience, walking with bears for a few days and enjoying lodge life then coming out and having a spectacular day on a tundra buggy. Check out the Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake Lodge… it’s worth it.
By First Tower, about an hour drive from the buggy launch, we encountered our first bears. Two young males had just started their sparring session for the morning. Again, it was a combination of a larger scarred-up male and a younger aggressive challenger. They rolled and wrestled and boxed for a good fifteen minutes before the older one tired. After some continued feats of lazy strength, they both settled into the snow, cooling down their armpits and noses and generally just being bears.
By this time, a young female bear had begun her approach to Gordon Point. These days the bears are out testing the sea ice whenever they can, searching for seals stranded in the tidal flats. This little bear meandered through the broken ice, generally making her way over to the buggies and then right past the two sleeping males.
As she passed, one of these rose and followed her to the ice edge, eventually breaking through the same ice that still held the weight of the smaller bear. He struggled to climb back up, breaking more ice beneath his weight before clawing his way up for a well-deserved nap (not like every nap is not well-deserved…).
After this welcome little visit, we headed over to the Tundra Buggy lodge. Driving out to the point (the one with the big black rock), we spotted a mother and single cub making their way through the jagged shore ice. It is no coincidence that female bears are master hunters while the males are far superior at napping.
The female was likely a young mother as she let her 10-month-old cub lag far behind her at times. The cub would get distracted by ice floes and almost anything, stopping to investigate as his mother made her way through the jumbled ice.
This changed quickly, however, as a lone male rose from his nap to peer over an ice floe. As soon as he appeared, the mother huffed and chuffed some commands at her cub and he was soon by her side. For a time, she lowered her head and assessed the situation, eventually proceeding between the buggies and the other bear.
The male watched as the family slid through, eventually breaking an invisible plane in which her comfort level rose considerably and he simply rolled over and went back to sleep. A little bit of arctic drama for the day!
Heading home, the weather is changing now. The golden light of morning has been replaced with a white blanket of cloud and snow, inspired by a building north wind. The forecast calls for forty kilometres gusting to sixty so that could pack even more ice into the shore. Good for the bears anyway…