Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Blizzards and Departure, 16th November 2013

16th November 2013
Today saw blizzard conditions, with snowdrifts making some roads around Churchill impassable. Most of the animals, with the exception of a few brave foxes, were hunkering down to shelter, but the bleak landscape had a stark beauty.  The evening saw our departure on the train for the two-day journey back to Winnipeg. This always brings sadness, tempered only with the knowledge I plan to return next year. Travelling by train is in adventure in itself, and the two days are a final opportunity to relax and catch up with fellow traveller, free from the distractions of modern life such as the phone and Internet.

Churchill Main Street

This year didn’t bring Northern Light viewing (except through the train windows on the journey north), and neither was it a vintage year for bears. The Saturday before our arrival saw cold temperatures and which the pack ice froze more quickly than in the recent past. This allowed many bears to start their journey across Hudson Bay to hunt seal after their four month long fast. Their departure was sudden, since females in particular avoid the risk of remaining amongst other bears for longer than necessary.

Braving the cold to checking the depth of a snow drift to ascertain if we could drive through

Next year, our group will be travelling a week earlier, and therefore have a greater chance of capturing the peak of the congregation of bears around Churchill as they wait for the ice to form. Yet, the exceptional fox viewing was some compensation, and this trip takes me so far my home landscape that it’s always allows me to forget about everyday anxieties. Our group this year was exceptionally tolerant and cohesive, and this trip is as much about the fascinating people you can meet as the bears and the landscape. If you are interested in viewing polar bears in an ethical manner at a lower cost than other methods, I strongly recommend that you investigate the Great Bear Foundations’s courses.

The Northern Studies Centre just prior to our departure

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