At first light we had a quick breakfast and resumed our long hike. It was one of those beautiful, high-pressure days and the sun was lighting up the mountains against the deep blue sky.
Bryan and I were nearly to an area he calls "horse camp" but just before that he found a meadow where we broke out the glasses and scopes. We hadn't sat down for 5 minutes when Bryan said the magic word:
"Got a Grizzly"
I couldn't believe it. After two difficult grizzly hunts in Alaska where I had hunted nearly a month just to see 7 grizzlies, we had a grizzly sighting in just the first few minutes. I quickly took a peak behind the scope and could clearly see the distant bear feeding on berries some 3 miles away.
"I got another one, this one is closer" Bryan said as I turned my attention to yet a different mountain. This one looked much bigger than the first. "Holy Cow, I got a third Grizzly" - Bryan said. It was almost hard to believe. In ten minutes of spotting we located 3 grizzlies in broad daylight. It was obvious that I picked the right hunt.
While I was enjoying watching our distant grizzlies, we both knew that we needed to get moving so back to the trail it was. We hiked past the horse camp and headed to the camp Bryan calls "lookout ridge" which is strategically located within (non-easy) walking distance of 5 mountains. The visibility from this camp gives you the ability to know where the bears are, and from there it's a day-long hike to 3 out of five of them. Two mountains, the one to the South, and to the North, were much closer.
It took another few hours to reach that camp. Let me tell you, the hike was no picnic. My legs were shot and my back was hurting from the heavy pack. We set up our camp and planned our late afternoon.
Bryan suggested that we climb the hill next to camp to get a look around. I glanced up at it. From camp it seemed relatively easy. "No problem" I said, "how long will it take?" I asked.
"Oh, about 45 minutes I suppose." Bryan responded.
Well, I should have learned from my prior mistake because two hours later, saturated with sweat and breathing like I had just run a marathon, I wasn't even remotely near the top. It took us about three hours but we were finally above tree line and looking at some of the most magnificent scenery I'd ever seen. We failed to spot any bears on our mountain but we did see some on a remote mountain - and planned to go there tomorrow.
With darkness approaching it was time to head back to camp. This was to be my first nighttime hike and it was a nightmare. There was a half-mile of blow downs and steep, slippery brush that we fought our way through. Going down was nearly as hard as going up. It took us a full hour to get to camp and that night, I realized, just how hardcore this hunt was going to be.
|Our grizzly hunt takes place in Northern British Columbia with Bryan Martin of Canadian Mountain Outfitters.|