Ad­vice from Cari­bou Lodge cook on view­ing wildlife

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Faces of The Region - Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net By Ron Wal­ter For Moose Jaw Ex­press

Pink Moun­tain seemed like a good place for a bev­er­age on the 400kms be­tween Fort St. John and Fort Nel­son, as we headed through B.C. wilder­ness for the Yukon. Our server/cook was Linda, a one-time On­tario res­i­dent who hitch­hiked here in the 1970s and be­came a north­erner, work­ing on con­tract in lodges and camps ever since. Her home is the gold min­ing ghost town of Ste­wart near the Alaskan pan­han­dle in the far north­east. But she only lives there a few months a year. “Most cooks come in for a month and go out,” she wipes away a fake tear on her sleeve for those work­ers. “Me, I’m here all sum­mer.” Re­fer­ring to us as doll-faces, she told a story warn­ing about wildlife. “This Grandma and Grandpa bought a re­tire­ment home in the moun­tains by the Al­berta border. “They were out walk­ing. She wanted to go home. He told her to go ahead. He saw a griz­zly bear and wanted a bet­ter pic­ture. “Five hours later she phoned con­ser­va­tion. He got his pic­ture. They never saw him again. The griz­zly had two cubs.” Even though she lives in a bear cor­ri­dor “I’ve never seen a griz­zly bear. I’d like to — from a dis­tance.” In be­tween the car­rot cake and bev­er­age, she mourned the loss of oil and gas jobs in the north. Last year, a num­ber of work­ers were called in to nearby camps and were so happy to get work. “It was mon­soon sea­son, can’t work. They were stuck in camp. No pay if you can’t work. They have bills to pay.” She counsels us to visit Ste­wart, “Be sure and look at the Fort Liard Hot Springs, might see a moose or bear there.” We will see plenty of wildlife. For­est fires years ago in the area from Fort Liard to the Yukon cre­ated ideal range for bear, bi­son and cari­bou. She was right. Leav­ing Mun­cho Lake the next day, we saw four black bear, three bi­son, a bi­son herd and three red fox, and paid nearly $2 a litre for gas at Fort Liard. It was even bet­ter view­ing on the re­turn. On an ideal wildlife photo hunt, I’d just drive the Mun­cho Lake - Wat­son Lake road ev­ery day. We never made it to the hot springs, still pretty much as built by U.S. Army en­gi­neers in 1942 while mak­ing the Alaska High­way.

Bi­son

Black bear

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