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Planning a cross-continent journey
Sometime in September, I’m setting out by myself on a cross-continent journey.
Always a teacher, I’ll be sharing photos and stories along the way. I hope you will follow me here and keep me company.
I intend to see as much of the autumn migration as possible. I’ll zig zag between the Great Lakes for raptors and monarchs and then across the far northern plains of Canada for shorebirds, cranes, and waterfowl.
But the goal is to be in northwest British Columbia by the first of October when salmon are spawning. There, I’m hoping to see the “Spirit Bears” of the Great Bear Rainforest Preserve.
Great Bear Rainforest was established in 2016 to support indigenous stewardship of the waterways and remaining old-growth rainforests in coastal BC. Extending from the Alaskan border south along the coast, the preserve consists mostly of sparsely populated islands covered in 1000-year-old trees. Visiting requires a First Nations guide, and I’ll be staying in the remote village of Hartley Bay, a Gitga’at (“Git-gat”) community of about 200. The only ways in and out are by boat and seaplane. There’s no guarantee of seeing bears, but they are only part of what I hope to find.
Kermode (pronounced “Ker-mode-ee”) Bears are a subspecies of black bear found in the Great Bear Rainforest. About 90% of Kermode Bears have normal black fur. Some are white, however, and they are commonly known as Spirit Bears. The mutation is caused by a recessive gene that is found in the isolated population there.
An estimated 100 to 400 Spirit Bears live in Great Bear Rainforest, but no one really knows the number for sure. They can emerge at any time, and some of them are well known as individuals. They are always present during the salmon run, however. Many photos I’ve seen of them have mystical qualities.
As I travel, I won’t be driving any new roads, literally and figuratively. Those roads I do go on, however, I’ll try to make my own.
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