However arriving in this pristine wilderness is an unforgettable experience of its own; splashing down in front of the floating lodge in a float plane. The planes were Grumman Goose, which pre-date WWII where they served with distinction, landing directly on the keel. The design was so good the planes still fly today, without any need for significant change. Fortunately the planes have been well maintained and although quite basic they’re very solid and the perfect transportation into the forest.
The amphibious planes have much more character than other aircraft and it was exciting climbing into one for the first time, the landing was both spectacular and surprisingly gentle. The Goose seems to skim on its keel for some distance before settling down fully into the water at which point the aircraft is showered with saltwater.
The new experiences did not stop there however, even while we were settling into our luxury accommodation for the next few days there was talk of a huge variety of wildlife to be seen. I was most excited by the mention of a wolverine which stalks the rocks on the bank at low tide.
However hardly had the three Goose aircraft that had transported us in departed than we were treated to a visit by a family of river otters. The distinction is necessary here as there are also sea otters. The female and her three pups remained within 20 metres of our position on the lodge balcony fishing and playing in the midday sun before swimming right under the lodge. It was my first glimpse of otters in the wild, but it was not my last as they reappeared later in the day and I feel sure they will be around for most of the stay.
The best was saved for last though as after returning from an open canoe trip to a nearby bay with fantastic views but little wildlife our guide shouted me over; the wolverine was out and about. We followed him along the bank before he did an about face and retraced his tracks, he was around for about 15 minutes altogether. I was almost lost for words as seeing one of these creatures which symbolise the wilderness was a lifetime ambition achieved.
It is the largest land dwelling species of the weasel family and its Latin name Gulo means glutton in reference to its legendary appetite. It is capable of consuming a vast amount of food at one sitting. The wolverine is a formidable predator, stocky, strong, agressive and fearless it is capable of killing prey far larger than itself, including adult deer. One look at those claws and there is little doubt this is an aggressive predator, fully deserving its reputation for ferocity.
Don’t tell Michael Uehara the President and CEO of the lodge about this post however he called me a liar! Apparently the wolverine does not exist and its just a ‘wilderness legend‘ cooked up by the staff. If he sees this picture he”ll just praise my photoshop skills!