It's not every day that you have the chance to enter an environment that is truly wild but since day one of arriving at the Ranch, I have been consistently surprised at just how close to nature we really are here. Having said this, when I had the chance to attend a Wildlife Viewing tour I was eager to turn my sights to some of the area's better known and significantly larger wildlife.
The South Chilcotin Mountain Park is well known for its Bear (both Grizzly and Black bears), Moose, Mountain Goat and Bighorn sheep populations. As an Aussie, the only thing I've ever seen that resembles a bear in the wild is a Koala, and while they are quite photogenic, they don't quite have the same impact as a bear. Despite my excitement, I tried not to let myself get too hung up on the prospect of seeing a bear as we headed out on our tour after dinner. I understood that although it had been a warm season, it was still very early to be seeing a bear this soon after the snow melt. I told myself that being surrounded by the breathtaking landscape would be enough but part of me still was still crossing my fingers and secretly hoping, after all, what is a Canadian adventure without a bear or two?
We drove along the shore line of the stunning Carpenter Lake while myself and my four other companions kept an eager eye on the rockfaces and hillsides. We stopped a number of times to check for the illusive creatures, and although we saw a number of Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats, it was becoming apparent that the bears were a little camera shy. Our guide was not disheartened however and urged us to keep looking. Rounding a corner in the road, we came across what I would describe as the most ravenous bear (and the very first) bear I'd ever seen. The powerful creature was busy foraging in the grass less than 20 meters from the roadside after his long winter nap and remained unaware of our presence as we brought the car silently to a halt.
I was blown away by how I felt being in such close proximity to the bear and just how lucky I was to be able to experience something so rare and beautiful. We watched the bear for over 15 minutes and for the entire time, the only sounds you could hear in the car were the click of a camera button and the occasional exclamation or contented sigh. I'm sure our guide and my Canadian counterparts had a little chuckle at just how excited I was, but I had seen my first bear and you could not wipe the smile off my face for the remainder of the evening!