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Posts Tagged ‘Nolan Booth’

Rhino II adds Mom and Cub to memory banks at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Polar Bear Mom and Cub at Nanuk

Polar bear Mom and Cub at Nanuk Polar bear Lodge.

At 9 p.m. last night our hard working crew of builders at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge decided it was time to blow off a little steam and go for a ride in our new custom-built Rhino II all-terrain vehicle. We’ll call it that for now, at least until our guests decide to overrule us with something better. West was our direction of choice this time and off we went.

About a kilometre from the Lodge we spotted a nice size polar bear out on the coast, but it was too far out in the surf to get a decent look, so onward we went, enjoying a beautiful evening and some good laughs.

Kelly, one of our carpenters, spotted a bear at 300 metres and we decide to try a little stalk with the new Rhino. We closed the gap to approximately 100 metres and were treated to a close-up of a very healthy looking Mom and her COY (cub of the year), who would be lucky to tip the scale at 40 pounds. We shut off  Rhino II and parked to enjoy the show!

Mom got up and decided to our delight that we had worked hard and that we should have a better look. The wander and stretch began and they closed the gap to 60 metres, deciding that a nearby sandbar would be a good vantage point to watch us from.

We spent another 20 minutes chatting and laughing in amazement before deciding to back up and let them be. Mom wasn’t bothered by us a bit. She never even stood up. Baby got up and checked us out one last time as we rode off into the sunset, with yet another shared piece of awesomeness…

for the memory banks.

We don’t play soccer at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. We might now.

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Look what I found!

Look what I found!

We have a new hire this year and it’s been a pleasure to have him around. Joshua Robson came on board this past winter to help with the hauling of equipment and materials over the sea ice to Seal River Heritage Lodge and Dymond Lake Lodge. We cut wood and hauled materials for 10 days and Josh was instantly hooked on our lifestyle.

Josh made his love of soccer known from the very beginning. He had traveled to Ecuador on a mission to build homes, and his stories of playing soccer with the kids as a way of getting to know them were inspiring.

We don’t play soccer at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. We don’t own a soccer ball, and the bears would likely be too tough to beat anyways. Eating the ball all the time and… well, you know.

Anyways, last Friday night a funny thing happened. The guys and I needed to get out of the compound and blow off a little steam after a long week so we gassed up the bikes and loaded up the new Rhino II for its maiden voyage to the Mistikokan River east of the Lodge.

After about an hour of laughing and bumping along the coast with numerous stops on the sand ridges to gather handfuls of fresh strawberries, take photos of giant wolf prints in the mud and enjoy a wandering polar bear, we were nearing the river and the end of our journey, when Josh suddenly yells “Soccer Ball! and jumps out of the moving vehicle to snare his prize.

A young man with an extreme love of soccer, finds an old weathered soccer ball still full of air, hundreds of miles away from civilization, on the remote coast of Hudson Bay. What are the chances of that?

Good karma.

Polar bear outsmarts wolf, or…

Come closer. I won't eat you. I promise.

Come closer. I won’t eat you. I promise.

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Wow, did we have a great breakfast encounter!

Our group of tuckered out carpenters had a little extra sleep, and our 9 a.m. Sunday breakfast was well deserved after many long hours of hard work on the new guest accommodations at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

The sun was shining and there was a light breeze from the east at 9:20 a.m. when Shelby spotted a young polar bear through the scope. The bear was wandering westward down the coast at a fair pace and following the tide line.

At the same time, Mike Sigurdsson noticed a nice black wolf wandering on a sandbar moving eastward towards the Lodge. Someone at the table said, “I wonder what will happen if they meet?”

We found out!

The wolf spotted the bear first and immediately turned and ran 100 metres in the opposite direction. He then stopped for a look. The bear continued to wander west, getting closer by the minute. Then the wolf decided to try a different tactic and bolted straight towards the young stocky white bear.

To everyone’s surprise the polar bear darted and ran straight north into the depths of Hudson Bay. The last we saw of the bear was a swimming white bum heading north.

We decided that one of two things must have happened. First, bears are believed to have a great memory, and this one may have had a previous run-in with a pack of wolves. Second, this bear may have known something we didn’t. The rest of the pack may have been hiding in the willows ready to back up their leader.

Polar bears live in an unforgiving environment and even a small injury could lead to an untimely death, so it’s possible the bear just decided that running (and swimming) away were the safest actions at the time.

He was fat and very healthy after a long winter of eating seals, and a meal at this time of year was not high on the priority list, especially not a wolf…

with an ambush in the waiting.

Whose afraid of the big bad wolf?

No thanks, I’m a little smarter than that.

 

Strolling through time at Nanuk

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Small girls. Big history. Mooswa.

Small girls. Big history. Moosawa.

We have the honor of doing a major construction project at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge this year with a big anniversary at hand.

One hundred years ago this summer, during the limited months that Hudson Bay was not frozen, a small vessel took on water and sunk near the shore just miles from what is now Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. To this day we still enjoy short trips out west to see the Moosawa and explore the area. Quite often there are polar bear or wolf tracks surrounding the vessel.

And if nothing else, it is just a nice place to sit up off the ground and think about our past and the incredible things people have accomplished on or near this unforgiving landscape.

About eight miles up the coast from Nanuk is the wreckage of a Hudson Bay Company boat which wrecked in 1914. Reportedly, the boat was never seaworthy enough for the shallow water of the bay. Strong winds and high waves resulted in the boat taking on water, the engine room filled and the ship broached.

We have done a fair bit of research and have even had scholars investigate the wreckage, yet to this day the name of this lady evades us. The only clue we have is a notation in the typed History of Nanuk booklet at the Lodge, which I would assume was started by the original owner and has been carried on over the years.

Not too many years ago Mike and Jeanne Reimer took over the Nanuk location and added it to the lodges in the Churchill Wild family. We are now creating new memories and writing our own history.

What will people discover about us 100 years from now?

Strolling through time...

Strolling through time… at Nanuk.

Construction begins on new bedrooms at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew - Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew – Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

We are already into the new season here at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and as always it starts with the thought that we should build something. This year we are taking on the task of building eight new bedrooms, each of which will feature an incredible view of Hudson Bay.

We opened up the Lodge at the earliest date known by anyone up here and Pat flew us in on May 28 to find six feet of snow on the runway and almost as much in the compound and surrounding areas.

This was good news for the black bear that broke into one of the old cabins because that meant he could come and go as he pleased for the next week while we did everything we could to get rid of all the snow. (Pumping all the remaining water from low spots and spreading ash from our fires on the tallest banks.)

We also spent a significant amount of time with a quad and a blade clearing the runway to be ready for the big Yellow Bird to haul in another 175,000 pounds of lumber and material for the upcoming build.

Two researchers arrived with Albert to guide them and they spent nine days chasing the endangered Knot. They had tagged 100 birds near New Jersey, USA, and they arrived here with trackers in hand along with sample jars and other detection tools.

They managed to get four confirmed hits, which was quite exciting. They also found flocks of the birds as they migrated along the coast. We have kept their tower up and are continuing to help with the ongoing research.

Other than one weathered-in day all the hauling went as planned. We pulled in 18 loads from Gillam in rain and snow and the sun finally came out for the last load. We got off to an early start the next morning, waved goodbye to the pilot and crew, and started hauling gravel to fill the concrete forms Rob had placed in the yard to the east.

Stuart and I are preparing to move some of the other cabins tomorrow to make room for the wing on the west end, matching the wing we are currently prepping for on the east. The eight new rooms, each with massive six foot windows, will be a sight for sure!

We have added a Kubota tractor to the mix this year and we’ve also added a second machine dubbed the Rhino. As of now it’s The Rhino II, or Super Sloth II according to some of our guests.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

The ice to the north on Hudson Bay is split into two sections right now. At high tide we can see broken and scattered icebergs all over the shore and a magnificent white and blue shimmering shelf beyond a kilometer of bright blue water.

We have three black bears frequenting the Lodge on a daily basis and we have also seen moose off to the west in the creek each evening. The geese have come and gone and now the Sandhill cranes are making all kinds of racket while hanging around on their nests.

Black Bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The black bears are here. Polar bears are coming!

The flocks of shorebirds are crazy at this time of near and with the scope or the binoculars you don’t have to look very hard to catch a glimpse of a nest or some bird activity.

The bunnies are rampant in and around the yard, the weasels are cleaning up on spring mice and birds, and we even watched a wolverine foraging down the coast.

Ursus maritimus has not arrived yet. I suspect the abundant sea ice has kept them out hunting for one last meal, just out of our view, but we’re expecting their appearance any day now. The bugs have just started to hatch, so I am sure the DEET will also be required about the same time as the polar bears show up.

Right now, the sun is high in a clear blue sky, the wind sock is flickering in the breeze, and there couldn’t be a better place in the world.

See you soon!