Saturday 8th June 2019
In 2003 two little orphan male bears were brought to Golden in the Kicking Horse River valley. Their mother had been shot by trophy hunters. Sadly, one died shortly after arrival but Boo survived and is still here today, living in his own twenty-acre reserve on the mountain above the town of Golden. This is the largest single-bear reserve in the world. Following his mating instincts, Boo has escaped a number of times but then always voluntarily
returned to his “home”
on the mountain, where he is cared for by experienced rangers who give informed tours to visitors. He is a happy bear, he hunts ground squirrels and other small mammals in his reserve, where two mountain streams provide him with fresh water and coniferous forest provides him seclusion when he wants it. His diet is supplemented with larger cuts of donated roadkill such as deer. It is dropped in different parts of his territory, sometimes from the gondola lift.
Today we visited the reserve to see Boo and it was wonderful to see this beautiful wild bear, even although he does not live in the wild. In 2009 a moose got into Boo’s enclosure
and he killed it, demonstrating his wild side was still healthily intact.
To get to the bear refuge one has to go up in a chairlift. This morning we went up in thick white mist. Twenty-seven centimetres of snow fell last night! Still cannot get our heads around snow in June, even in the Rockies! Boo was nowhere to be seen, so we decided to return later in the afternoon when we knew he was going to get fed some deer meat.
Next, we boarded a gondola to take us right to the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain. After passing through the white mist we entered a spectacular land of snowy peaks, deep ravines and snow fields, which stretched as far as the eye could see. We have seen many mountain vistas in the past, in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North and South America and we think that today’s views were as good as it gets! Fabulous! The full day pass for both chairlift and gondola was only $41, much cheaper than the Banff gondola, with the added bonus of the bear!
The second time up the chairlift we saw our beautiful bear! What a magnificent
animal. Boo is a big boy; he weighs 285 kilos and before he goes into his den for the winter, he will fatten up to around 360 kilos. He is in fabulous condition and we were so glad we had a good zoom on the camera for some great close-up shots as he devoured his meal. Special!
By the time we left the mountains and descended to the valley, the sun was shining and the white mist had disappeared allowing us at last to see the magnificence of the town’s setting. Golden is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks. We drove to another refuge centre where orphaned animals have grown up and been cared for: not bears this time, wolves. Six grey wolves live at the refuge, one female and five males (she of course is the dominant Alpha). We were surprised at their size, the largest weighed just 40 kilos. Our dog, Mutley, weighs 50 kilo and is much larger. The wolves, however, have much stronger jaws, double the strength of the most powerful dog! They are beautiful animals and it was lovely to see them at close quarters (safely enclosed behind fences)!
Tomorrow the weather forecast is
OK, perhaps a little precipitation but no snow! We are off to Lake Louise for the day but will return to Golden to sleep. Accommodation in Golden is much cheaper than Lake Louise and it is only 80 kilometres away, so just a day trip. On Monday morning we plan to head up to Jasper, via the “Icefields Parkway” which is rated as one of the most scenic drives in the country. Should be good! If tomorrow is half as good as today has been, we shall be happy because today was a “red letter” special!
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