2012 Polar Bear Trip – Day 3
December 5, 2012
Now it gets serious.
The day started with a quick breakfast and the bundled-up group of us heading out to the shuttle bus, gear in hand. Stepping out of the hotel into the arctic air certainly grabs your attention. When asking about the temps, numbers like -30C, -35C are tossed around (-21F to -30F). That’s when Grant has his first Polar Bear encounter. The timing was awkward too, as he was just moments ago making fun of this guy’s mother…
After a short drive, we arrive at the Polar Rovers. These monstrous vehicles will serve as our chariot across the open tundra and are amazingly impressive. Situated on a set of six, five and a half foot tires sits a giant bus-like vehicle. It’s wider then your typical school bus and features a “porch” off the back for photography and observation. Each of the monstrous tires are drive wheels, making it a 6 wheel drive off road machine!
Here’s an interior shot (the video will show you the outside)
We take our seats and the game begins!
As we make our way across the tundra, Colby (our guide), explains that the ice has started to form in earnest and when that happens the bears (who haven’t eaten since late June) are more than a little eager to race back to the frozen ocean and find themselves a seal dinner.
Needless to say, the bay icing up is a source of worry.
Still, we continue on, carefully scanning the tundra for any signs of bear. We decide to head towards the “Tundra Lodge”, a portable, temporary “hotel” created by hooking up several giant trailers together (that also sit on top of five and a half foot wheels).
As we approach, we see our first bear!
He’s a big guy, lumbering along towards the lodge (they get curious about it). All eyes are fixed on our new found friend and I’m amazed at just how large these bears really are. I quickly snap off a few shots as the bear makes his way towards the lodge. Make sure you check out the video below – Grant managed some cool clips.
We move the rover to the lodge and watch with excitement as the bear examines the area. You can almost hear him asking, “Hey, what is this thing?” as he pokes around the exterior.
The air is full of the sounds of frantic shutter clicks each time he’s in an open area, and I’m certainly popping off my fair share of frames.
It’s not long before another bear joins him, but this guy keeps to the thick willows and we never really do get a good shot at him.
We decide to linger for awhile and see what happens. Lunch is served and as we have our sandwiches and soup, we chat excitedly about the morning’s adventure. What a way to start your day! It’s safe to say both Grant and I had stupid grins plastered across our faces.
The bear decides he’s had it with all the attention and makes his departure. Since the other guy seems pretty settled in for the day, we fire up the Polar Rover and look to greener (err, whiter?) pastures.
Our efforts aren’t overly successful, however we do stumble across another bear bedded down in an area of willows. He’s kind of ~ sort of ~ interested, so his head lazily pops up from time to time – each head bob is greeted by a flurry of shutter clicks of course! (See video)
As the sun starts looking more seriously towards the horizon, we head in, thrilled to have seen our first Polar Bears!
(Although, the photos I captured that day aren’t really as good as the next few days, so they didn’t get posted – hey I’m picky – but there is a cool photo below)
As evening approached, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were coming out in full force! (We’d later learn from the locals that is was one of the best displays in recent memory.) So, instead of the planned talk after dinner it was off to the inukshuk for some photography! What’s an inukshuk? This:
Overall, a pretty fantastic day in the arctic! Check out the video – way better than the one on the last post
(Keep in mind that it was shot almost exclusively from the Polar Rover and that thing bounces constantly – even when it’s stopped people moving around cause a lot of movement. Still fun to watch – and hey, not bad for an 11 year old!)
PS – As always you comments and feedback are appreciated :)
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