It. Will there be bears? Let the ad­ven­ture be­gin!

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - — British Columbia — -

In the spring of 1893 one of Canada’s great­est ex­plor­ers em­barked on a cross coun­try trip to even­tu­ally reach the Pa­cific Ocean. We may hear more about the ex­ploits of Lewis and Clark south of the bor­der, but in 1894, Sir Alexan­der Macken­zie was the first to cross the con­ti­nent by land, and with only eight oth­ers ac­com­pa­ny­ing him. He beat the other ex­pe­di­tion by sev­eral years.

His trip was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and if you’d like to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the route you can hike the Macken­zie Her­itage Trail in Bri­tish Columbia’s Tweedsmuir Pro­vin­cial Park. This park has some of the most ex­cit­ing scenery avail­able al­most any­where on the con­ti­nent, with mas­sive moun­tains, ex­plo­sive wa­ter­falls, lazy sky­blue lakes, and spec­tac­u­lar views.

At the south end of the park is the At­narko River which runs into the Bella Coola River. Both rivers are prime ar­eas to view bears, as well as bald ea­gles. Tweedsmuir Park Lodge com­mands a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion below the cliffs and is just a few steps from the At­narko River. What a great com­bi­na­tion, a beau­ti­ful place to lodge, and a handy lo­ca­tion to book a float trip.

The McKen­zie boat shoved off and drifted into the cur­rent. The val­ley walls seemed in­cred­i­bly close, a re­sult of their great height, and the nar­row me­an­der­ing river whose curv­ing path pre­vented us from see­ing too far ahead. We were hop­ing to see the great bears, but we were in­tensely watch­ing the wa­ter for signs of salmon. Sylvia was the first to spot one, which turned into a small school of less than a dozen.

That was good news! Then I saw a bald ea­gle wait­ing in the trees. More good news, but still no sign of bears. But why the in­ter­est in the salmon and the ea­gles? The bears don’t walk down to the river for a drink, they come when the fish ar­rive. The bald ea­gles will be first to come. They seem to know when the salmon are on the way, and there will be many ea­gles when that hap­pens. And then the griz­zlies come fish­ing.

I have seen en­tire fam­i­lies of griz­zly bears in the wa­ter. One may sit lazily in a spot where the rapids are strong. His quick eye will see an up­com­ing fish. A great paw reaches over into the wa­ter, and a salmon be­comes lunch. An­other bear will make a run up the river, splash­ing and mak­ing a lot of noise. The salmon is so con­fused by this it be­comes an easy tar­get. An­other meal! A dif­fer­ent bear stands on the bank, and sud­denly leaps into the river, cap­tur­ing his fresh meal.

On this river drift, the fish were scarce, only one bald ea­gle, and ab­so­lutely no bear. We were too early. The oars­man said we were see­ing the first of the run and the river would soon be filled with fish, just not to­day.

It didn’t mat­ter that much. We were float­ing on a river in the midst of amaz­ing moun­tain scenery. The day was pleas­ant, and only the gur­gling wa­ter pass­ing by the boat made any sound, although some­times the gen­tle quack­ing of a mother duck lead­ing her duck­lings across the river in­ter­rupted the soli­tude.

We drifted slowly past the bear view­ing plat­form of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, slipped around a curve in the river and saw a huge bald ea­gle cross over to

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