Tom sent a text last night to announce that the last bear watch of the season was over, Schei Camp has closed and so now we can come clean. We had not mentioned this up till now to spare the worry of loved ones back home. On the 17th July a few days into the first camping trip Tom was on bear watch when he spotted a white patch in the distance. It caught his eye as he did not remember seeing it there before and then…he realised it was moving. Hoping it was a wolf at first, he quickly worked out that it was a polar bear (see the pic that Freydis took)!!
We had seen some signs of bear activity in the area when I was up there in late June, but all the tracks we had seen were pretty old. (I am now recounting the conversation I had with Tom and so there may be some errors of fact here…but as I always say there is no point in letting the truth get in the way of a good story). The bear approached the camp and got to within about 120m or so (possibly closer), it finally moved off after Sean had fired off several bear bangers (see pic of the kit). Luckily this seemed to work and there was no more sign of the bear during that camping session.However, a week or so later the team had returned to the camp (with Kerry, Alyn and Graham). Tom was on the phone to me giving me the latest news, when he broke off our conversation with the words “guys…….guys….is that a bear or a wolf coming up the ridge?” It was a bear… probably the same animal as had visited them before. Tom hung up quickly and it was over an hour before I heard back from him. On this occasion it did not come as close as it had previously… it wandered down checked them out from a couple 100m.…sat down for a bit and then moved off. They never saw it again.
I am in T2 at Heathrow as I write and will be in Resolute tomorrow evening. We are planning to search the north coast of Devon Island (about 140miles north of Resolute) on Tuesday and Wednesday, so hopefully we will have some more to report before the season finishes next weekend.