by Mike Reimer
You’d think that after 25 plus years in the business of sharing the incredible flora and fauna of the Arctic that our Creator has blessed us with, that we would have seen it all by now, and been jaded into complacency from endless polar bear encounters.
Every bear is still fresh, exciting and unique in all its majesty. And today’s experience was exceptional enough to send even guides and lodge owners scrambling for cameras.
Columbia Sportswear Directors of Toughness Zach Doleac and Lauren Steele are here at our Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge shooting ad footage for the purposes of getting the word out on their new line of high grade expedition gear, using “Tested Tough” as the catch phrase, hash tags #TestedTough and #DirectorsOfToughness.
The plan for the first morning was to start with some basic interviews, do a little exploring and see what the potential was for shoot locations. Within 30 minutes we were vying for a choice spot on the airstrip with curious polar bears checking us out.
The team finally settled into a great spot to conduct interviews with no less than three polar bears watching the proceedings with great interest, which was fantastic, but it was about to get a whole lot wilder!
Halfway through the second interview, lead guide Steve Schellenberg hisses that magic word –“Wolves.” Not Wolf, but “WOLVES!” And lots of them, a big pack ambling down the airstrip directly towards our mesmerized troop!
There were black wolves, white wolves, blond and tan colored wolves, nine wild carnivores in full view on direct collision course with us, and more filtering through the brush on either side of us. Unreal! But wait, there’s more.
At that precise moment, after six days of cloud cover, the sun broke through. Crazy! One almost expected an orchestra to burst forth from the trees to celebrate a subliminal moment beyond compare.
The wolf pack shortly realized they had stumbled onto something a little less appetizing than their usual fare of moose and bunnies and headed for better hunting grounds, but not before howling their extreme displeasure at finding intruders in their domain.
They didn’t go far however, and spent the rest of the day with us both around the Lodge and hunting moose in the willow pasture to the south. We enjoyed many sightings throughout the day, much howling and barking, and even some wolf/polar bear interaction.
We closed the day with an awesome sunset over the sea ice and headed back to the lodge for a gourmet dinner of wild caught soused lake trout with all the trimmings, followed by wild cranberry cake topped with warm butter sauce. Wow!
This might have been one of those one in a million experiences. It will take a few days to realize the magnitude of what took place here at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.
No wonder Nolan (Booth) tries to keep this place to himself!