There are pancakes for breakfast and then it’s time to guess how many layers are needed for the 9:30 tundra walk. I think I may exceed my Advil quota today but as it is likely I will only be here once. I need to go on a bear hunt!
We head off towards the point where the bears were yesterday and find two on the flats. It’s relatively mild and we work up the need to divest something–hat, gloves etc. We wander and stop and walk some more. I think we are mimicking the bears very well.
It is silent. The air is calm and the snow is gently falling. Even the grasses by the lake seem to gently wave in silent deference to the pristine nature of this place. The walking is softened by the tinyest of plants. Tussock follows tussock as we inch closer to the lake and observe the male and female follow and rest and follow each other yet again.
At the airport the male investigates the caterpillar tractor and the upturned wheels of a trailer. He gives it a good sniff but his curiosity is not peaked and he ambles on. Now those oil drums on the large barge with the bright red windsock attached appear to be more interesting to him. He raised up on his hind legs for a better look but in the end it was just a diversion in another wise fairly ordinary day in a bear’s life and he walked on.
Ptarmigan play in the willows and we are captivated by an arctic fox. He is now fully turned, fluffy white and healthy looking. He is the only canine to fully turn from brown in the summer to white in the winter. We are told that he will remain active above the snow during the long arctic winter. These fox have an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing which allows them to find mice under the snow. They communicate using a high-pitched bark or a gently catlike purr.
A mother and a cub on a far ridge take our attention from the fox and we watch as they slowly wander. The coy seems much like any child. He is behind, he runs ahead, his mother keeps a watchful eye on him and then on us.
Time goes quickly and soon we head back towards the lodge through the light snow to yet another yummy lunch — broth with herbs, wild rice and mushrooms, wraps and “to die for” pumpkin cheesecake.
By 2:30 we exist the gate from the compound again. I am no longer sure whether we are following the bears or they are following us. We seem to be wandering in circles and so are they. Follow the trail of squished lingon berries and you will find people or bears!
We headed out towards the landing strip in search of the mother and cub. We wait, we watch, they meander and we in the end back off so that they will not be frightened off but instead perhaps, just perhaps, they will head for the compound and we will have better views.
The light is ever changing and the reflections on the ice are dazzling. It is so peaceful. The scrunch of boots on gravel gives way to the rustle of wind pants and the soft squish of footsteps on reindeer moss and lichens.
Happy hour is officially at 6pm. How can it be the end of another day and yet I am very tired. Part of me is very grateful that there are not any more tundra walks today. Great snacks again accompany pre-dinner drinks. The caribou and bacon wraps are excellent. Chicken with mushroom sauce and a fresh fruit dessert are the key items on the supper menu.
I download some more images but I am not so happy with my pictures today other than some of the ones from last night under the stars. Banjo Bonnie leads a singsong and then it’s bedtime. Who knows if there will be a “northern lights” call tonight. Will I sleep through it? I doubt it!