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A Grizzly Adventure in British Columbia

06/19/2013 05:47 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Story by Tricia Edgar

Vacay.ca Outdoor Columnist

A grizzly discovery is what you're after when you visit Knight Inlet, a remote part of British Columbia. You'll find it with the help of Tide Rip, Telegraph Cove's grizzly-watching adventure company.

While the black bear is common in some urban areas -- with sightings even in Vancouver's suburbs as the bears search for ripe fruit from the trees and troll the recycling bins -- the grizzly bear is British Columbia's wilderness giant. Visiting with grizzlies in the wild had long been a dream of mine, and this spring we decided to head up the coast to see if we could view some of BC's iconic mammals.

By "visiting" with grizzlies, I mean watching them from a safe distance. Grizzly bears might look like the great big brown storybook bears of our youth, but their teeth and claws aren't anything to trifle with. Before our trip, my daughter and I learned all we could about grizzlies. Interestingly enough, just about every one of the books that we took out of the library had a photo of a grizzly baring its teeth. A lot of that is bear stereotype, though: grizzly bears aren't necessarily fierce man-eaters. They're omnivores, which means they munch on many different foods, eating goodies like grass, berries, and seafood.

Early on the last morning of our trip, we arrived at Telegraph Cove, a sweet little community located 201 kilometres north of Cambpell River that's beloved by those who enjoy exploring the coastal waters. Our destination was Knight Inlet, the home of some of BC's coastal grizzlies. While the inlet is on British Columbia's mainland, tours run from Vancouver Island, since it's easiest to access these renowned grizzly-watching areas from across the water.

After a boat ride across the strait, we slowed down as we reached Glendale Cove, home of the famous Knight Inlet Lodge that has now been reconstructed after being destroyed by fire in the fall.

"There's one over there!" called our guide. Through my mediocre binoculars, I saw what looked like a rock, a log, and another rock. "Oh yes," other visitors murmured sagely, obviously boasting better technology.

As we moved closer, I saw the grizzly: hunched next to a long log, she was extracting the glossy black mussels from underneath, munching them with a crunch that sounded like she was working her way through a bag of chips. She looked up, stared, and ignored us. Obviously, we were much less interesting than the seafood. She was surprisingly small: after the winter, grizzlies have lost nearly half of their body weight. To put the weight on again and get ready for a winter of hibernation, BC's coastal grizzlies rely on a diet of protein-rich sedge grass, seafood, and the seasonal flow of salmon up the province's coast.

After a trip full of eagle-watching and a search for sea lions and whales, a glimpse of a grizzly was the perfect way to end our trip. We watched the lunching grizzly as she turned over rocks to look for more goodies. Perhaps she wondered what all the fuss was about?

Read the rest of the article on Vacay.ca and find out about pricing for this amazing grizzly tour and where to stay on your Vancouver Island adventure.