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Archive for October, 2012

Award-winning photographer returns to Churchill Wild for Polar Bear Photo Safari

Polar Bear relaxing near Seal River Lodge - Robert Postma Photo

Polar Bear relaxing near Seal River Lodge - Robert Postma Photo

Award-winning photographer Robert Postma will be making his third trip with Churchill Wild this week when he arrives for the Polar Bear Photo Safari — in search of emotion.

That might be tough to find among the notoriously stoic polar bears, but Postma has already demonstrated a remarkable knack for injecting a sense of emotion into his photos, and it has won him numerous national photo contests.

“At the risk of sounding a little flaky, I like to try to inject some feeling into the photos I take,” said Postma.  “I just seem to have a knack for it. I want people to feel some emotion when they look at my photos. I want them to experience the feelings I had when I was taking the shot.”

Postma’s photos have appeared in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Up Here, Our Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op and Astronomy, as well as in brochures, annual reports and calendars. On April 2, 2012 his photo of a great horned owl bursting from an abandoned toolshed in Saskatchewan appeared as the Photo of the Day on the National Geographic Web site.

A few of his photo contest wins include the 2010 Banff Mountain Festival Photography Competition, The Nature of Things and Planet in Focus Nature in Focus Environmental Photography Competition, the Show us your Canada photo contest in 2004 and 2008, the Up Here Fantastic Photo Contest and Canadian Geographic Photo Club’s Annual Photography Contest in 2011, for which the theme was extreme weather.

“That photo was taken while chasing storms in Saskatchewan,” said Postma. “Storm chasing puts me on the edge. I don’t sit out in the open, just on the edges, but I’ve been have been caught in the middle of some pretty nasty storms. You can’t take pictures in the driving rain if you’re in the middle of the storm though. I like the storm to be tracking in front of me. Some people get their rush from mountain biking, I get mine from chasing storms.”

Postma was introduced to the power of nature, and particularly that of thunder storms, at an early age. His mother would wake him up in the wee hours of the morning as storms approached their home in Strathroy, Ontario, and they would set up lawn chairs in the garage to watch nature’s fury explode across the corn fields. Walks in the forest with his parents and his brothers as a youngster further enhanced Postma’s respect and love for nature, but it wasn’t until 1998 while visiting a photographer friend in the Yukon, that he started to become obsessed with photography to the point where he decided to make his home in Whitehorse.

“For some reason I’m just drawn to the remote northern landscapes,” said the 41-year-old Postma, who has worked on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut and travelled all over North America as well as to Iceland, Australia, Bolivia, Peru, Guyana and Lebanon. “Iceland is one of my favourite places, but there are no polar bears there. Occasionally they’ll come over from Greenland on an ice flow and eat the farmer’s sheep, but that doesn’t last long.”

The remote moon-like landscapes of Hudson Bay were a natural draw for Postma, who first learned about Churchill Wild while on a trip to Churchill to photograph polar bears.

“I went on the tundra buggies the first time,” said Postma, “But I couldn’t get face to face with the polar bears.  So I asked around and they gave me Churchill Wild’s name. It’s now one of my favourite places. From the time I arrive in Winnipeg to the time I get back from Seal River Lodge I’ve received exemplary treatment. Mike and Jeanne Reimer are incredible hosts that make me feel right at home there. I’m not that social of a person naturally, but they have me out socializing around the campfire. The polar bear guides Andy and Terry are excellent and the food is also exceptional. I have to lose some weight before I go so I have some room to play with.”

Before leaving for Seal River Lodge, Postma was heading out to photograph grizzly bears fishing in British Columbia. We asked him what the major difference was between polar bears and grizzlies, besides the size, as polar bears are quite a bit larger than grizzly bears.

“The biggest difference between polar bears and grizzlies is the sheer unpredictability of grizzles,” said Postma. “I’ll take most of the shots of the grizzlies from my car. I have been as close as 10 feet away, but I’m little more anxious when photographing them. I have a high level of respect for grizzlies. They normally won’t bother you, but you have to be prepared to back away.”

Postma is looking forward to his trip to Seal River Lodge. He’ll be hoping to add to some of the stunning Galleries on his Distant Horizons Web site, which already includes spectacular shots of Aurora Borealis, Grizzly Bears, Panoramic Landscapes, Stormy Skies and more.

The polar bears will be there, as will the windswept snowy moonscapes, and likely a little stormy weather. If the skies are clear, the Northern Lights should also be on full display. So there’s only one thing left to add. It comes from the heart.

Postma will supply that.


Images above courtesy of Robert Postma.

Great start to 2012 Polar Bear Photo Safari

This message came in today from Mike Reimer at Seal River Heritage Lodge, where our Polar Bear Photo Safari is in full swing!

Polar Bear Mom with Cubs at Seal River Lodge - Missi Mandel Photo

Polar Bear Mom with Cub at Seal River Lodge - Missy Mandel Photo

This week guests from the US, Netherlands, Germany, France, the UK and Russia are finishing up as a group, and guests from France, Hawaii, Thailand and Taiwan are about to settle in.

Hey all you Polar Bear lovers out there!

Our bear season is once again off to a “roaring start” with wildly variable weather wreaking havoc with flight schedules but nonetheless offering visitors some incredible wildlife opportunities.

Freeze up appears to be right on target as our bears wait patiently for the coming ice, which will once more usher them out to their hunting grounds. The bears are all in excellent condition, no doubt due to the late ice breakup this past summer which gave them good access to seals and continuous hunting opportunities all the way through to the end of July.

Missy Mandel has been kind enough to share some of the fantastic ground level polar bear shots that our ecolodges have become famous for.

 Photo credits to Missy Mandel.

Almond Crusted Arctic Char with Leek and Lemon Cream

Almond Crusted Arctic Char Filets

Almond Crusted Arctic Char Filets - Icebergs & Belugas Cookbook (Page 20)

This delicious recipe is from our Icebergs & Belugas Cookbook (page 20). Serves 6. And you’re going to love it!

Almond-Crusted Arctic Char

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley OR 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 6 x 6 oz. skinless char fillets
  • Dymond Lake Seasoning**
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

 

Leek and Lemon Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2  medium leeks OR 2 cups finely chopped onion*
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions 

  1. To make the sauce, wash leeks thoroughly. Cut in half and slice thinly (use on the white and pale green parts). In a heavy saucepan, sauté leeks in butter for 2 minutes, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add lemon juice and stir until the liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Stir in cream.  Simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If not using immediately, refrigerate until ready to serve then, reheat.
  4. Combine the almonds, parsley, lemon peel, salt and pepper on a plate. Place the flour on another plate.
  5. Sprinkle char with Dymond Lake Seasoning**.  Dredge the char with flour, shaking off excess. Lightly brush 1 side of each fillet with beaten egg. Press brushed side of fillet into almond mixture, pressing lightly to make it adhere. Set fillets aside until all are prepared.
  6. Melt 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. of oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add fillets, almond-side down.  Cook in 2 batches if necessary. Cook until almond crust is brown, about 5 minutes. Turn fillets over and sauté until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce.

*Pour boiling water over onions, let sit for five minutes. Drain and use as above.

**Dymond Lake Seasoning – appropriate substitutions range from plain or seasoned salt and/or pepper to a combination of oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, celery salt, onion salt, paprika, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Dymond Lake Seasoning is available for purchase here.

Extreme Polar Bear Marathon in Churchill first of its kind, will help remote communities

Polar Bear Marathon, Churchill, Manitoba

An extreme adventure marathon.

If you think walking with polar bears at one of our lodges might get your heart racing, how about running with them? That’s just what 16 elite athletes from around the world will be doing in Churchill, Manitoba on November 20, 2012, when they compete in the Polar Bear Marathon at a distance of what could be 50 km.

Why would you want to run 50 km in -40 degree temperatures surrounded by polar bears, wolves and other less dangerous and assorted arctic wildlife?

Charity is the first reason, as the runners will be supporting the Native (First Nations people of Canada’s North) ministry work of Athletes in Action (AIA) Baseball camps. The second reason would obviously be the remote location and adventure and the third would be bragging rights to doing something that’s never been done before.

The run will support the work of the Athletes in Action (AIA) in the Sayisi Dene First Nations community of Tadoule Lake, 250 km west of Churchill. AIA has done baseball camps in two different First Nations communities for the past eight years. The work is based on volunteers and donations and this isolated group of people is served with contributions of sports equipment and various community events that let them know they are loved and not forgotten.

The remote location of Churchill is well known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” and Manitoba’s beluga whale watching hotspot. And besides being a birder’s paradise, it is also one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights, especially as winter approaches. The Polar Bear Marathon will take place just as the polar bears are getting ready to move out on to the ice for the winter, which of course will add more than ample adventure to the trek.

The adventure seekers and marathoners who have signed up to participate in the Polar Bear Marathon hail from Germany, the USA and both Steinbach and Churchill, Manitoba, and include Eric Alexander, an amazing athlete and mountain climber who not only climbed Mt. Everest, but also escorted and helped a blind climber summit Everest. Also among the participants are a marathoner from San Diego who has run in a 100 km event at the South Pole, another from Germany who has run in over 150 marathons, and an extreme event specialist.

Due to the harsh environment and the weather conditions, the Polar Bear Marathon will be run in tight groups as a “gentleman’s run” and runners will have to stay together due to the presence of polar bears, foxes, wolves and weather. Vehicles will accompany runners from both behind and in front for safety reasons and to serve as mobile aid stations. The exact route is yet to be determined.

Mother Polar Bear and Cubs - Dennis Fast

We'll be watching you.

“It looks like we’ll being going with four runners per group right now,” said organizer Albert Martens. “We might have room for a few more participants but they would have to contact me very soon. Right now we have four vehicles lined up to go with the runners. There will be a dinner with medal presentations and a polar bear slideshow presentation by Churchill Wild’s chief professional photographer Dennis Fast after the run. There will also be a German journalist covering the event.”

Every summer, Albert Martens flies into remote and isolated First Nation communities to do sports camps. These remote communities have included Pauingassi and Tadoule Lake in Manitoba and Poplar Hill in Ontario. Martens and up to eight volunteers help the children and youth with baseball and bible classes, while also serving the adults with Men’s Breakfasts, Ladies Teas, and other community events. All work and expenses are covered by personal donations and volunteer staff.

“Convinced of good support, reliable vehicles, and a small, slow group of runners, I have agreed to do this event and run my first marathon,” said Alexander on his Higher Summits Web site. “Running in the realm of the polar bear, I suspect I have a good shot at a world record. Well, this is not just a fun run to sightsee and avoid predation; this is a benefit for Athletes in Action and their commitment to helping the indigenous people of the far north. I will be speaking at a fund-raising dinner after the run (provided I survive the run) and am thereby pledging to help Athletes in Action. This is where you can help – please consider a donation to Athletes in Action to reach a group of people that you may never otherwise get to meet.”

The Dessert Night Fundraiser Alexander was speaking of will take place on November 22, 2012 at Canad Inns in Winnipeg in support of the AIA First Nations Ministry. Alexander will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will feature highlights and images of the Polar Bear Marathon along with the premier showing of the AIA – Grand Canyon running documentary.

A renowned speaker and the author of The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone, Alexander is a person who embodies a picture of hope and possibility for all of us. For more information, please visit his Web site at www.HigherSummits.com. For additional information on the Polar Bear Marathon, please contact Albert Martens by phone at (204) 346-1345, via email at aemart@mts.net or visit his Web site at www.AlbertMartens.com. There are bound to be questions, and for good reason.

“It’s never been done before,” said Martens.

Related Story: Steinbach Man Organizing Polar Bear Marathon

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Winter Running - Albert Martens

There's just something exhilarating about a winter run!

Donations towards AIA First Nations Ministry may be made by issuing a cheque in USA or CDN currency  payable to Athletes in Action and mailed to Eric Alexander or Albert Martens at the addresses below.

Eric Alexander
Higher Summits
PO Box 6102
Vail, Colorado 81658 USA

Albert Martens
408-2nd Street,
Steinbach, Manitoba
Canada R5G 0V5

USA or CDN tax receipts will be issued to the donor.

Churchill Wild: Best Adventure Company 2012

Churchill Wild - Best Adventure Company 2012

Churchill Wild - Best Adventure Company 2012

Churchill Wild is proud to receive the distinction of “Best Adventure Company 2012″ from Canadian Sky and its parent company Tropical Sky.

Canadian Sky is a UK based travel company dedicated to providing genuine personalized service that delivers the best holiday experience possible in Canada and North America.

Thank you Canadian Sky!

Great Ice Bear Polar Bear Tour

Great Ice Bear Adventure