Page 112


isions in white Encounters with polar bears close enough to feel their breath are the grand reward for making a 2,300-mile journey to a remote and bitterly cold part of Canada. BY ROBERT N. JENKINS

NORTH OF CHURCHILL, Manitoba Moments after I clambered out of the single-engine plane and realized just how cold it was on this edge of Hudson Bay, Andy MacPherson broke my heart. “To be safe,’’ MacPherson says, “we will keep you about 50 meters from the polar bears as we walk about.’’ MacPherson is saying more to the other guests at the Seal River Heritage Lodge, but I am processing that number. I do notice the 12-gauge shotgun slung over his right shoulder, I do hear the word “safety.’’ Yet all I can think is that the distance he has given — about 155 feet, more than half the length of a football field — means my single-lens Nikon probably won’t be able to capture any decent pictures of the beasts I have flown 2,300 miles to see. I stand on the graded gravel runway, now cold and grieving. That turns out to be premature, and unnecessary: That’s because MacPherson had presented the lodge’s procedures the day before Bones ambled, pigeon-toed, toward us along the edge of the frozen bay, before Greenspot moseyed around the outside of the lodge — and well before Bob came to floss for us on the lodge’s backyard fence. His announcement came before all the contacts we would have with the magnificent bears in the next four days. And the only times we were 155 feet from the bears occurred if we were that far away when MacPherson or fellow guide Tara Ryan first sighted them. Typically, the bears — usually by themselves — appeared as large ivory splotches resting or sleeping on the rock-strewn ground, with-

112 bay

APRIL 2014

Bay Magazine April 2014  
Bay Magazine April 2014  

The Water Issue