Great Bear Rainforest - Day Three

Posted on 24th October, 2023

Day three dawned clear again, but being in a fjordland setting, it was a while until the sun would find its way to us. Once light enough, we were back onto the zodiacs and looking out for grizzlies, amongst other things.

We didn't have to wait long, spotting a bear in the far distance, just coming downstream. We stayed where we were but he gradually walked along the bank towards us, seemingly unaware of our presence, eventually getting really quite close!

Finally he gave us a little look, before moving on his way and finding himself a salmon. The above is qutie heavily cropped but you can see his right eye is missing - it turned out this was 'Nelson' - a bear that our skipper Neil had watched in a fight a couple of years earlier, hence the missing eye. As you can probably see, the flies were still in attendance, though I think we were more bothered by them than he was! Once again I spent more time than watching and, with hindsight, could perhaps have been a bit more liberal with the burst rate. Nevertheless, this just encapsulates the amazing experience of seeing a large, brown bear very close!

In the subdued and shaded light, I of course couldn't resist photographing a bit more of the local scruff ;) and, as always, we were accompanied by plenty of bald eagles, bonaparte gulls, the odd heron and plenty of harbour seals.

Back for breakfast and then we worked our way out of Mussel Inlet and headed southwest before making our way north again into Princess Royal Channel, travelling past yet more amazing scenery - the light was a little softer and the layers of woodland beautifully revealed.

Along with the softer light, came a few clouds - very welcome from a landscape photographer's perspective - and they were drifiting beautifully amongst the sheer sided, forested hills.

This stretch of the channel was my first opportunity really to appreciate the wonderful textural and colour contrasts of the rocky shoreline, carpeted with a mass of trees - the softer light really helped to bring out the complementary tones - so it was just a question of trying to pick my moment and fine tune compositions on the move!

The liberal smattering of dead pines, whilst concerning to see, definitely made for a more interesting image! The clouds were building up all the time and this really did bring out the layers and details in the dense woodland.

The softer light also made closer images of tree details more of a realistic proposition and every so often a single tree would stand out for being a little different - you can even just spot a gull flying past in this one.

By mid afternoon, we'd reached the entrance to Khutze Inlet - another absolutely stunning location in which to anchor, albeit the light was somewhat hazy. Looking back the way was beautiful and I particularly liked the contrast between the sparkling sunlit sea and the hazy layers of land beyond.

Ahead of us was our first view of Khutze Inlet. Even through the haze, it was clear to see just how majestic the scenery is in this part of the world.

Once anchored, we set out again in the zodiacs. We were now experiencing our first rain of the trip - nothing that heavy and it made the colours of the trees and rocky shoreline pop that much more.

You can quite clearly see the rain falling in photo above - taken standing up (with permission!) and at ISO 2500 - which probably gives an idea of how overcast and shaded it was down there. Composing accurately and staying reasonably steady was a challenge, to say the least.

The damp and hazy conditions lent a rather mysterious air to our surroundings and there were always little pockets of scenery to photograph with a super mix of coniferous and deciduous trees.

The water was extremely shallow in parts and, with the sand shifting every year, finding a way through was tricky - but we were extremely glad to have done so as it wasn't long before we spotted a mother bear and two cubs - a timeless scene.

Again these were bears that both Neil and Liron had seen the year previously, when the cubs were still very small. We spent a long time watching them explore the riverbank, the cubs somewhat playful at times, mother watching on and keeping an eye on them. They seemed totally relaxed and again almost oblivious to our presence and it really was magical to see them interacting in this way, in the heart of such remote and wild scenery.

Eventually they made their way further upstream and, witht the light fading, we headed back to the boat; the clouds parting just enough for some wonderful and subtle sunset colours.

It may seem a little unintuitive, but please click on the PREV link/button below for day 4!