Monday, January 29, 2018

Khutzeymateen, "A Magical Place"

Khutzeymateen, a place I had never heard of, became my first foray into the wilderness.  My apprehension over the word ‘bear’ was soon dispelled as we entered the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Conservatory under the learned ‘Bear Whisperer’ Barrie Gilbert’s tutelage and guidance. We walked their paths, following footprints embedded in the earth, finding their resting places, their rub trees and learned of the biology of these great carnivores.

Grizzly bear. grizzly, khutzeymateen, BC, Bluewater Adventures
Grizzly grazing on protein-rich sedge grass
We soon learned that the this place is not just about bears, and that other animals benefitted from this sanctuary as well.  Animals like wolves, wolverines, deer, and others live as they should in surroundings natural to them. Because visits to the Khutzeymateen is limited to few tourists every year, it remains pristine and we soon appreciated that our presence was a privilege. 

British Columbia, BC, Khutzeymateen Inlet, Bluewater Adventures
Stillness - Khutzeymateen Inlet
We sailed past the outer islands shared by numerous species of birds and bellowing sea lion bulls that were surrounded by their harems. Dall's porpoise flashed past the vessel like a flurry of bullets with orcas in fast pursuit. Great humpback whales surfaced and silently floated past and disappeared, only to later, interrupt our dinner with a spectacular breach. 

Steller sea lion, BC, Bluewater Adventures
Steller sea lion haul out Photo: Terry Carr

During our trips ashore, we examined tidal pools, rich with colourful creatures; we hiked into hidden beaches - some covered in centuries of sparkling, broken sea shells and wildflowers.

We walked sandy beaches - the only footprints being ours and something wild. We climbed craggy hanging bogs covered with succulents, sun dews and mosses and picked berries and edible greens- seen again at dinnertime.
SV Island Odyssey - our home for 7 days
And that unforgettable afternoon, while the sails bellowed, we encountered a Steller sea lion being hunted by transient orcas - an experience that cannot be put into words.
First Nations petroglyph, "The Man Who Fell From Heaven"
Our visit to a coastal First Nations village was an inspiration as we listened to the proud spokesperson sharing century-old tales of his village and its people, the tribal conflicts, the hieroglyphics and the prized petroglyph of ‘The Man Who Fell From Heaven’.
The Khutzeymateen, forever imprinted in my memory as a magical place!

By Lorraine Alden, Guest – Khutzeymateen/ North Coast with Bluewater Adventures 

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