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Bears. Arctic Paddle 2022

Karl Update! Day 12: Karl saw his first bear!


He wasn't sure if it was a barren ground grizzly or a pizzly/grolar, but both species are rare nonetheless. Karl says, "The shoulders and forelegs were frosty but rump and part of its midsection was brown. ... It was on the beach as I was paddling past. It didn't see me for a while but then it caught a whiff and ran as fast as it could down the beach and away from me. Good to know I smell like a top predator! Makes me sleep better."


Which of course, I responded: "Pretty sure it smelled the fact you haven't showered in two weeks."


The Barren Ground Grizzlies have only recently been listed as their own "species", but are relatively rare. From what I CAN find out about them, they are a species that spends most of its time in the Arctic coastal region but has the greatest range of any of the grizzly bear species. (The Barren Grounds, or Barren Lands, is a large area of tundra in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut that is largely uninhabited. Karl is paddling along the northern shore of the Barren Grounds)


Pizzlies or Grolars are a polar bear / grizzly bear cross (if the father is a polar bear, the offspring is a pizzly, if the father is a griz, the offspring is a grolar) -- these are another "new" bear to the modern world, having the FIRST genetic confirmed hybrid was in 2006. As climate changes, the habitat of polar bears are crossing over with grizzly bear habitat and have resulted in more the hybrid cross. It's assumed these bears have interbred in the past, but, like many things in our data driven world, if it hasn't been "proven"... did it really happen? So, in 2006, with genetic testing capacities, the pizzly/grolar became official.

Karl has seen sign of bears near where he camps, but this was the first sighting.


He is currently at Cape Parry, waiting out a few days of strong headwinds before turning south into Paulatuk. Karl has paddled over 150 miles in the last three days, including one 30 mile open water crossing. (for PNW reference, that crossing is the same as leg one of R2AK Port Townsend to Victoria... Except his crossing had icebergs).


Karl's last two days were difficult, largely because he wasn't able to find a reliable water source for the last few days. Yesterday was 40 miles, with a headwind, with rationed water. He has found good water at his current campsite and has commented, "it feels good to drink as much water as I want. ... I was down to my last liter yesterday. I nursed it along all day. Not good. Crampy and feeling crappy all day. Part of why I got so cold, for sure." He's filled his water bladders and is working on re-hydrating while waiting out the winds.


Also of note, for those checking out the tracker: The lines and roads near Karl's current campsite at Cape Perry is an active DEW line site (defense early warning line) -- according to Wikipedia, the site and associated airport are closed. According to Karl, it is very much active: he was awakened to a helicopter taking off, and has seen three more military choppers since. "I slept like a dead thing until a big Canadian military chopper flew out of the DEW station precisely at 0900 this morning. First human activity I've seen since Tuk."



(Barren Land Griz, photo from Barrenland Grizzly Bear Viewing with Aylmer Lake Lodge youtube video)

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