2011 - King of the Arctic

Exploring the subarctic region of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada in October 2011.
1 calm air  Calm Air turbo-prop The little plane that flew us from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba. There was just one airstrip in Churchill which was a former military air base. 2 lazy bear1  The Lazy Bear Lodge, Churchill. A hand-crafted log building, built by the owner. 3 lazy bear bus  Lazy Bear Bus. This former school bus was driven by the owner to ferry the lodge guests around. 4 lazy bear2  Lazy Bear Lodge. Another view of our gorgeous rustic lodgings, decorated for impending Hallowe'en.
parking sign  No Parking Sign in Churchill. Violators will be peed on, lol :-) raring 2 go  Raring to Go. Huskie sled dogs waiting impatiently to be harnessed up for the ride. dog harness  Dogs being harnessed. Jenafor, from Blue Sky Mush, harnessing up the dogs in teams of eight, ready to pull our sled. mush mush  Mush, mush. The first passengers are off! There wasn't enough snow for the sledge, so we had a wheeled buggy instead. Still just as much fun though.
mush mush2  Our view from within the sled The dogs go faster than expected! It was really quite exhilarating although rather a bumpy ride. mush mush1  Another view of the dogs' backsides :-) huskie ride2  Debbie & Trevor with Ernest, our musher. As you can see we had to wrap up well against the wind and relentless cold. The goggles were to prevent any grit kicked up by the dogs from getting in our eyes. huskie ride1  Here we are again with our dog team.  A brilliant experience.
blue sky mush  Blue Sky Mush. blue sky mush2  Gerald and Jenafor. The husband-and-wife owners, dog trainers and mushers at Blue Sky Mush. inukshuk  Inukshuk. Inukshuks were built by ancient Inuits to act as waymarkers. They are made of huge stones in a human form. You can see them throughout Manitoba. bear alert  Polar Bear Alert - Do Not Walk in This Area. Our hotel owner, driver and guide, Wally. Carrying the gun was a precaution against meeting a hungry polar bear - a very real risk.
stark landscape  Stark landscape. The stark, permafrost subarctic tundra area around Churchill. The cream 'dot' in the middle of the pic is a distant polar bear! :-) polar bear jail  Polar Bear Jail. When the bears venture too close to town, they are darted to sedate them and then taken to this holding facility, until they can be released back into the wild, usually at least 30 miles away. bear alert prog  Polar Bear Alert Program. A sign outside the polar bear jail. bear alert prog3  Do Not Play Dead. Advice in case you come face to face with a big white furry thing! :-)
bear trap  Bear Trap to cart them off to jail. ithaca  Wreck of the Ithaca, Hudson Bay. The Ithaca was a cargo ship which ran aground in the Hudson Bay in 1961. The crew and cargo were saved, but the ship has been rusting there for the last 50 years. polar rocks  Polar Bear rocks! This bear came ashore after swimming in the bay. a polar  Female polar bear.
polar 7  Beautiful, majestic animal. Seeing a polar bear in the wild is a mesmerising experience. It brought the tears to my eyes. dinner time  What's for dinner?! The bears were free and they came to gawp at the humans in the cage! :-) bear bum  Bear bum. Another bear approaches our tundra vehicle. tundra buggy1  Tundra Buggy. These four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicles are especially built for exploring the arctic tundra and are bear-proof.
tundra buggy2  Tundra Buggy You can go onto the viewing platform at the rear to get an unimpeded (and very close) view of any wildlife. polar 8  Curious polar bear. dinner time2  Could anyone get closer to a polar bear in the wild?! This one reared up on her hind legs almost into the camera lens! Wow! peekaboo bear  Beautiful - what more can I say?
sleepy bear  Sleepy bear. We watched this one walking for quite a distance on the ice before finding a nice cosy patch of snow to have a nap in! polar1  Female polar bear. polar6  Polar bear. bear1  Polar bear.
polar3  Curious bear right outside our vehicle. polar2  Bear Necessities. Female polar bear, approx 6-7 years of age. polar4  I can smell humans - yum yum :-) polar5  These things are deceptively ferocious. They are the earth's largest land carnivores.