A Trip Alongside the Bears

Published on 07.08.2007 - The Arctic Voice

About fifteen days ago, we left the Glenn Morris – Stephen Doughty tandem in Tuktoyaktuk. They had just turned around in front of a straight , impassable for their kayaks.

Since then, the two men have progressed pretty well. First of all, they have managed to reach Paulatuk by air. Second of all, they have continued their navigation eastwards towards Kugluktuk, the first stage of their expedition. On July 23, their position was: 69°40'32''N/123°05'09''W.

On their way, they have had to confront strong winds and sometimes even high waves which have obviously slowed their navigation down. When the navigating conditions are too difficult to progress in, they set up their camp along the riverside and wait for better days. However, when the weather is good, they manage to progress 50 kilometres a day. Everywhere they stop, they are able to rely on the Canadian Mounted Police (CMP) who watch their expedition equipment.

Even though not much is happening in this beautiful and wild adventure, two facts need to be mentioned at this point of the itinerary.

New Colonising Species

First of all, during their journey, Glenn and Morris have learned that the Inuvialuts have been encountering more and more unknown plants. In parallel to this pacific colonisation, birds they have never seen before have been discovered along the coast. Could this be a sign of climate change? It is difficult to say. Being that they aren't scientists, the English kayakers have unfortunately not looked into these strange discoveries nor into the names of the new species.

Living With Bears

Second commentary: the two men are practically living with bears. They see some every day: either around the camp fire at night, in the morning as they wake up, or during the day as they wait along the riverside for the storms to calm down. Here is the story of one of their encounters: "The second bear encounter was a little bit more interesting in that we were checking for a source of water and I got out of the boat and was looking at what turned out to be a very brackish pond and I saw this very large fur rug wandering along the beach. At that point he saw me and started running ... towards me! So I ran back to my kayak and we leapt into action and got off the beach and the bear arrived at the point where we'd been and stood up on its hind legs and it must have been around 7 foot tall – it was huge! It then decided that it would swim after us, so we started paddling like crazy. Anyway, within a short space of time it decided that we were people – I think it must have smelt us. And then it started swimming frantically in the opposite direction! From a distance it must have looked quite funny with the two kayaks and the bear disappearing in opposite directions very quickly."

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