2012 Polar Bear Trip Day 5
December 10, 2012
Wind & Snow.
That’s all we saw when we glanced out of our hotel room this morning. It’s blowing like crazy today, dropping the windchill to -40! Youch! It’s cold for sure, but hey those Polar Bears aren’t going to photograph themselves, so off we go!
I gotta say, the normally uneventful shuttle bus ride to the Polar Rover was much more interesting this morning. At times visibility was better measured in inches than feet. How the driver kept the shuttle bus on the road is a testament to the winter driving ability of the Churchill folks.
Upon our safe arrival, we make the quick transition from the shuttle to the Polar Rover – it was only 20 yards, but the wind and snow were so intense you had to go on feel as much as sight. My pants were coated in snow a matter of seconds – wow! – (Check out the video to really get a feel for how crazy the weather was)
The bad thing with wind at this level of ferocity is that the bears don’t like it anymore than we do and tend to bed down and allow themselves to become “drifted over” for protection.
Yeah, makes it hard to get a shot!
As the wind howled outside the rover, we drove across the tundra in total awe – it was really something to see. Waves of snow would pass over the ice and blow off the tops of drifts. The forecast promised it would die down by late morning / early afternoon – and they nailed it.
However, we hadn’t seen a bear yet. Had they all gone to the ice? It was a distinct possibility. Once the ice is supports their weight, they can literally be gone overnight – and in fact the VAST majority had already left. The few we’d seen over the last few days were merely stragglers.
As we patrolled the coast, hopeful for just one more bear, we spotted some of the other Polar Rovers and Tundra Buggys off in the distance. As we pulled up, we couldn’t tell what they were looking at – until a big ‘ole bear popped his head up!
Our driver positioned us as best he could – pretty much every rover and buggy on the tundra had congregated for this one lone bear. However, his positioning couldn’t have been better.
It wasn’t long before the bear stood up and walked off – and what had been a poor spot five minutes ago became the best place on the tundra! As he passed behind the vehicles, backlit by the sun, I snapped off some of (what I think are) the best photos of the trip.
As he wandered off then out towards the ice, we made our way back to Polar Rover HQ – ahh, but the fun wasn’t over just yet.
On a straight stretch of trail Ward (our driver) stopped the Polar Rover and word was passed back that he needed Grant up front. You can imagine my 11 year old son’s surprise when Ward let him sit in the drivers seat!
“You wanna drive?” Ward asked Grant.
So after a quick lesson Grant was driving the Polar Rover down the trail with everyone in the vehicle cheering him on! See the video for the full adventure.
Soon, Ward was back in control and we were back at our shuttle bus.
That evening was a fantastic dinner and prevention from our guide Colby. Our last day on the tundra was over, but we still had some time tomorrow morning. Stay tuned – still some cool stuff left!
You GOTTA see this video – it’s the best of the trip!
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