About a 40minute flight from Campbell river is Glendale cove situated, on the longest fjord on the B.C. coast, and home to a fabulous floating lodge, which was our base for our short stay.
The Lodge is surrounded by spectacular scenery with forested slopes and rocky cliffs plunging into the clear cold water of the fjord. In the Autumn when the salmon are running back up to their spawning ground on the Glendale river this has to be one of the best places to get close to feeding bears.
Following safety talks and a tour of the facilities we were told to dress in the waterproof / windproof clothing, which was provided, and we then set off on our first excursion. Unfortunately the weather was not particularly good with cloud and light rain but our first excursion produced good sightings of Golden Eye, Harbor Seals, Mergansers and a Raven, but no bears. After a delicious, hot lunch we were off to find the grizzlies, this time to a viewing stand above the the Glendale River.
By now the light rain had turned into a continuous downpour, but dressed appropriately we were warm and dry. The logistics of getting to the river included a boat across the fjord, followed by a muddy walk to an old logging road. and a drive deep into the forest.
Having seen numerous nature documentaries of Grizzlies feeding on the salmon we were excited at the possibility of seeing this in the wild. A first look down on the river, through the rain, we could see a weir , tangles of tree trunks in the water, a steep wooded bank but apparently still no bears. Feeling a little disappointed and looking a little closer we could vaguely see a dark shape in the river.
Our group of six slowly and quietly made our way further down river to a viewing area. The stand had ample space for the six of us plus our camera equipment. Looking down into what we thought was a dark, muddy river we realized that it wasn’t a muddy river bed but thousands of salmon running back up to their spawning ground. A closer look also revealed that in amongst the salmon the large dark shape was in fact a mother bear chasing the salmon. Two further yearling bears appeared and began playing in the white water. At last some bears!
Amazingly, more grizzles kept appearing from the far shore and down stream. This time a mother and four, seven month old cubs. We could not believe how lucky we were to see the cubs walking along a log that went from the bank into the water. The cubs obviously didn’t like the water and headed straight back out and clambered along the rocky bank while their mother dove in the water in search of food. She was excellent at fishing, as each time she appeared at the surface with a fish in her mouth. Possibly one of the reasons why she had successfully raised four cubs. Eventually she persuaded the cubs to cross the river to come to her and eat.