Knox the Fox sees northern lights with ‘Intrepid Travelers’

Susan EspirituOur Town Adventure Seekers

Knox the Fox slipped in on another incredible trip, this time with a group who call themselves “The Intrepid Travelers:” Erica Dubno, Gail Giffin, Cindy Biddle and Joan Biddle. These adventurers went to Churchill, Manitoba, in November in search of polar bear sightings, northern lights viewings, and once-in-a-lifetime escapades. The group travelled safely with a tour guide, Frank Wolf of Frontiers North Adventures, and other adventure seekers from all over the world.

Churchill, Manitoba, is a remote community of 900 people located on the western shore of Hudson Bay known for its polar bear population, earning the title “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” and it did not disappoint as Cindy reports: “Any worry of not seeing polar bears on our trip to Churchill ended within 15 minutes of leaving the airport when Erica spotted one walking the beach along Hudson Bay. The lone bear was ambling along and as we sat and watched it come closer and closer which also brought it toward town. We had a bird’s-eye view as it stood on some abandoned barrels on one side of us, walked behind our bus and then climbed some rocks on the other side of the road so that we were able to photograph him looking as majestic as possible.”

The group spent two days on the ice riding in a tundra buggy to observe the polar bears in their natural habitat. Gail said, “We were not disappointed as we had several sightings including a mother bear and three cubs.” Cindy included that on their second tundra buggy day, one of the bears came up under the metal grates on the deck so he was right below their feet and he stood up for a glorious photo with the driver.

The group headed to Wapusk Adventures to go dog-sledding. Wapusk is the sledding company created by a legendary Churchill resident, and member of the Indigenous Métis tribe, Dave Daley. In 2004 he founded the world-renowned Hudson Bay Quest dog-sled race which continues to this day.

There was not enough snow to use the sleds, but specially built wheeled sleds allowed for a “thrilling run through and around his vast property with dogs that have boundless enthusiastic energy, not to mention the coldest of noses.”

The highpoint of the trip was the night of the first clear skies when the guide arranged for a bus to take them to a remote location overlooking the bay where “we were awed with a spectacular nighttime show of the aurora borealis. We watched for an hour and a half as the lights constantly changed across the sky, sometimes dancing across and occasionally spreading up in a spectacle you can only really enjoy to the fullest in a place so far north.”

If you have been feeling a little chilly lately, the temperatures on this trip dipped to -4 which, as Cindy put it, “Is too cold for this old southern woman.”

The group did see a fox called a cross fox. The cross fox is red with a color mutation that causes dark patches of hair in a line down the back and across the shoulders which is where they get their name. (Knox is a sort of red fox.)

Gail summed up the “experience of beautiful sunsets, northern lights, majestic polar bears and amazing ice-covered tundra, in only one word – MAGICAL!”

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