Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JAN-FEB 2019

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It was so quiet that I could hear flesh tearing from bone as one of nature's predominant predators, standing upright in the water less than 50 feet from the nose of my kayak, gorged on sockeye salmon. At that moment, grizzly bears outnumbered humans as I watched, my mouth agape, as a mother bear roared in protest as one of her cubs snatched a freshly snagged salmon from her mouth and triumphantly tromped back to shore. Engrossed in a moment of motherly camaraderie with this mighty creature, I was brought back to reality by a firm warning from my guide, reminding me that bears are capable swimmers and to maintain a respectable distance. After watching the family dynamic play out for some time, we paddled on in the misty morning, observing bald eagles soaring overhead, spying additional grizzlies on the opposite shore of Chilko Lake, and enjoying the solitude afforded by this pristine parcel of Canadian wilderness. For decades, I have regarded the area in and around Yellowstone National Park as the bellwether for all that I love about the great outdoors. I mention this only after having had some time to reflect on my five days at the Chilko Experience this past September, which was followed by a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few weeks later. Comparing the two, I can state with absolute certainty (and with my apologies to Wyoming and Montana), that this was the most soul-satisfying wilderness adventure that I have ever been privy to. While wildlife is abundant in the Chilcotin throughout the year, from August through October it is estimated that one million sockeyes complete a 500-mile journey to reach the spot where the Chilko River meets glacier-fed Chilko Lake, making easy work of scouting sleuths of bears. ere several routes for rambling about in this remoteness, but I am now at a point in my life where I prefer indoor plumbing over roughing it. At the Chilko Experience, which occupies 25 of the five million acres that comprise the Chilko Valley (approximately 150 air miles north of Vancouver), I was able to have the best of both worlds: enjoying the greatness of the great outdoors by foot, water, ATV and horseback, and then having the luxury of returning to the comfortable confines of my expansive log home. WONDER MENT IN THE WILDER NESS e Chilko Experience Written by Bridget Williams / Photography by Craig Sutherland 50 slmag.net

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