Khutzeymateen – A Magical Place!
Khutzeymateen, a place I had never heard of became my first foray into the wilderness. My apprehension over the word ‘bear’ was soon dispelled as we entered the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Conservancy under the learned ‘Bear Whisperer’ Barrie Gilbert’s tutelage and guidance. We walked their paths, following footprints embedded in the earth, discovered their resting places and rub trees and learned of the biology of these great omnivores. We soon learned that the Khutzeymateen region is not just about bears. Because it is limited to few tourists it remains pristine, and we soon appreciated that our presence was a privilege.
|We sailed past islands shared by numerous species of birds and bellowing sea lions surrounded by their harems. Great humpback whales surfaced and silently disappeared, only to breach just as our chef presented us with lunch - beautifully crafted in the tiny galley. Dall’s porpoise flashed past the vessel like black and white bullets, and that fateful day when we encountered a Steller sea lion being hunted by transient orcas.
On shore excursions we examined tidal pools, rich with colourful creatures; we hiked into hidden beaches - some covered in centuries worth of sparkling, broken sea shells and framed by wildflowers. We walked sandy beaches - the only footprints being ours and something wild. We climbed craggy, hanging bogs covered with succulents, sun dews and mosses and we picked berries and edible greens, seen again at dinnertime.
The visit to a coastal First Nations village was an inspiration as we listened to local guide, sharing century-old tales of his village and its people, the tribal conflicts, the pictographs, and the prized petroglyph of ‘The Man Who Fell from Heaven’.
Khutzeymateen, forever imprinted in my memory as a magical place!