BCB MayJune 2022_LR

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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Page 71 of 83

THE NORTH For those of us who grew up in Western Canada, one of the conceits we perpetuate is that we are all very comfortable with bears. But my guess is that the share of the full-blown adult population that has read all the Harry Potter novels more than three times is much larger than the share of those who have actually seen a grizzly in the wild. But there are areas out there where grizzlies are not just present, they are a common enough sight to actually be the star attraction. Which is how I find myself—a person who spent an entire summer living in a remote ranger station on the border between Banff and Jasper but never once saw a grizzly—on a float plane from Prince Rupert with a wily old bush pilot named Ken Cote, destined for the floating Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge— the only accommodation near the neighbouring Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary. As we disembark, Cote bestows an obvious piece of advice: "Remember, you don't have to run faster than the bear, you just have to run faster than one of us." The grizzly sanctuary and the surrounding inlet conservancy are 100,000 hectares of protected habitat that are home to upward of 60 grizzlies—and it's the lure of witnessing these land giants in the wild that has drawn me here, as it has as a Swiss family who've travelled across the globe for a chance to spot one of these rare behemoths. We'll all be bunking in at the floating lodge, which sleeps eight as a bobbing respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Shortly after getting settled, we head out with lodge owner Getting up close and hopefully not too personal with Ursus horribilis in the Khutzeymateen by Neal McLennan Jamie Hahn aboard his workhorse aluminum Zodiacs. The remote inlet is devoid of other humans... and, it seems, of bears too. We pass towering cliffs and a half-dozen waterfalls, but our lone grizzly sighting consists of a passing glance at a small juvenile nicknamed "Big Ears," who bolts from the shore back into the dense brush as soon as we manoeuvre our craft a little closer. It's not exactly Wild Kingdom, but I can now safely pass a polygraph test on whether I've ever seen a grizzly in the wild. So, check that box off. We chug back to camp for an early dinner so luxe that the mind immediately wonders how it could come from such a small kitchen footprint. But before I can get an answer and/or meet the chef, we're back out on the water (up here, summer nights stay light very late) searching for giants. Like last time, none exactly announce themselves— but, again, it's surprisingly easy to forget what the prime objective is when you have a hundred thousand pristine hectares all to yourself. Getting off the boat within the sanctuary is not allowed, but outside Paw Patrol Even in the summer, the weather patterns in the North are not to be trifled with, which makes discovering a low-cost, high-quality purveyor of ultralight backcountry gear a gamechanger. Outdoor Vitals does the direct-to-consumer route, so options like the Down Topquilt meet all the quality requirements while going easy ($289) on the price. outdoorvitals.com THE 'IT' GEAR D E S T IN AT I O N B C/A N D R E W S T R A IN 72 BCBUSINESS MAY/JUNE 2022

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