October 29, 2007 | Tips from Travellers >
Mackenzie, Bear Watching
I sit in the passenger seat of our comfortable rental vehicle as my colleague drives along a bumpy back road in Mackenzie. The late afternoon light is turning the leaves a brilliant golden colour and I feel the crisp autumn air as I step outside. I haven't seen fall colours like this since growing up in Ontario. The sound of crunching leaves under my feet takes me right back to being a child and the thrill of jumping in newly-raked leaf piles. We have arrived at Alexander Mackenzie's Landing: a spot where in 1793 Scottish fur trader Alexander Mackenzie along with French- Canadian voyageurs passed by en route to the Pacific Ocean. The first thing I notice is the silence. Just last week I was in Bangkok (not well known for its silence!) and now I stand before a crystal clear lake surrounded by forest and hopefully a wild animal or two. This morning I caught a 9am flight out of Vancouver and was having lunch in Mackenzie by 1pm, after an easy drive from Prince George. On the highway, my eyes scoured the roadside lakes and marshes for the rack of a bull moose, but I had no luck.
I am in town for a planning session with tourism stakeholders and I find out when I arrive at the meeting that one of the participants saw MY moose just yesterday while he spent the spectacularly sunny day fishing at a nearby lake. We set our next meeting for November and I am keen to return and see the very deep snow that this part of the world is known for. Maybe I will even find myself on the back of a snowmobile for the first time…
The day of our meeting is filled with blue sky and brisk temperatures. After we wrap up, we jump into the car again, crank the heat and head out of town. My eyes again search the roadside for signs of anything wild. I am rewarded with a mama bear and two cubs! This is my first bear cub sighting and I am absolutely thrilled. I am sure the locals driving by smile to themselves as the city slickers in the rental vehicle sit in awe of something that residents in Mackenzie see on a regular basis.