Monday, June 08, 2009

Road Trip Canadian Rockies B.C. Kootenays - No Bears, Please

Heading out on a road trip to the BC Kootenays and Rocky Mountains. I have my ticket from Toronto (YYZ) to Kelowna (YLW), and a friend with a BC-Alberta highway map and a packed lunch meeting me in Kelowna tomorrow morning. Other than that, our itinerary is flexible. Very flexible. The only thing I really can do without seeing are bears. I can't relax properly when I know bears are lurking.

But we have a general idea of the spots we'd like to see. In BC (British Columbia) there's Grand Forks (heard it's a really cute little town) and Nelson (my original home town) and Blueberry Creek, to meet up with a friend.

From there, we may go the Kaslo route up Kootenay Lake, or over to Trail and get to Salmo (Gosh I miss those neat BC town names!), and Creston (Is it cherry season yet? Probably too early), and maybe Fernie. Don't recall there being many ferns there, though.

Hoping to meet up with cousin in Crowsnest area, and meet a fellow with a Karelian bear dog (gosh that sounds so cool!) and take a few pics of the Frank Slide where Turtle Mountain slipped away. It's been decades since I've been to this part of Canada, and likely nothing is the same as I remember!

Also on our hit list are Lake Louise, Banff, Fairmont Hot Springs (Yes I have my swimsuit!) and Golden before heading back to Kelowna for my flight home.

Really hoping to avoid any close encounters with bears, black, brown or Grizzly. The best weather for travel in Canada is spring, summer and fall, which is also the times that bears are variously pregnant, giving birth, protecting young, or feeding like mad on berries or fish before hiberation. In short, all the times that they are likely to be crankiest.

Our last trip to BC was in June also, on the Sunshine Coast and northern Vancouver Island. Bear season. Every time we stopped on the highway to admire a view, or take a walk up a trail to a waterfalls, we were aware that bears like berries and water, too, and they don't like surprises, either.

So what you do in bear country then is make as much noise as possible to give any bears in the area a lot of notice that you are there, too. And off we go down a path, whistling, singing, clappping and talking loud. Really loud. This is one time you don't use your 'indoor voice'!

Of course this early-bear-warning system is practiced by others, too. Often in the distance, we'd hear sounds of singing, whistling and clapping, and so we'd know we had company. You feel a bit like a fool making all that racket but it's better than turning a corner and getting between a momma bear and her cubs.

Momma Grizzly with Two Cubs

Here's a picture I took from the safety of a Telegraph Cove-based tour boat on Knight Inlet on the BC mainland. There are no grizzlies on Vancouver Island, but the mainland, especially the Rockies - well, that's their home turf. Everyone has a bear story.

And so to the Karelian bear dogs. I know very little about them, so looking forward to learning a whole lot more! Will definitely take pictures.

Now I really must finish up my packing and get organized. For more pictures of BC, see my travel site.