10/30/2011 6:13:57 PM
A Foggy Arrival
By Henry Harrison
I was reminded of what it can mean to live on Churchill time earlier than usual on my trip. Socked in by fog, the guides and charter company hired by Frontiers North Adventures (who were generous enough to give me a ride) kept everyone in good spirits with hot coffee and boxed breakfasts. The guests' eager anticipation was contagious and I easily accepted the limitations of travel in the North.
Arriving at Churchill proper meant seeing old acquaintances, working out minor details, getting a quick idea of this year's PBI layout, and then getting out and putting the camera to work. That's what I'm here to do, after all. I'll be producing most of the web videos we'll be putting out this season. Keep your eyes out for this year's Tundra Shorts videos. In any case, I was rewarded by a gorgeous tundra sunset and an Aurora Borealis against a clear starlit sky (click the links for short time-lapse videos of these).
On Saturday I was able to get out on the tundra proper in order learn the ropes of driving the new Polar Bear Cam. Although I'd brought Big Bluey (my superwarm Canada Goose parka in signature PBI Blue), it was still way too warm for that kind of coat, so I opted for lighter clothing. I just realized in writing that line that while I can take off my coat, the bears can't and 40 degrees F (5 C) is pretty warm for them too.
It was good to be back out on the buggy again and we had several exciting animal experiences. First, we saw an Arctic fox hopping and scurrying about as it hunted in its white fur among brown grasses. Next we drove right next to a striking Arctic hare that happily munched about 10 feet from the buggy.
The fox, hare, and a few farther off bears gave me a great chance to practice my webcam driving skills. For those of you watching, I'll get better, I promise. Finally we had a laconic but curious bear come over and lay right next to the buggy. Wow. Experiencing a wild bear that close is truly remarkable. Seeing the size of its paws splayed on the ground, the texture of its white hair, the black nose probing its world, and most of all, looking into its deep, deep eyes is just truly inspiring.