Standing on a tiny walkway at the edge of a creek filled with hundreds of spawning salmon is one exhilarating way to get close enough to practically shake paws and introduce yourself to some real live Alaskan Black Bears.
Bears love a good meal almost as mush as we do and they get to feed all day long when the salmon are spawning. Thornton Creek is the perfect place for humans to leave the safety of their cars and literally walk along the edge of the creek to watch. But don’t be fooled. There’s no fence between you and the wild nature of these bears. The sign next to the path states that “bears use this walkway too” so you have to be prepared to meet one.
At one point a group of 5 people were huddled in a tiny alcove on the path, a viewing platform of sorts, when a young adult bear decided to saunter over and use the path to get to the other end of the creek to look for some more salmon action. The group had nowhere to go so they froze and had no choice but to calmly and quietly stand there as the bear walked by literally within 2 feet of them. Those of us who were standing a good 15 feet away just held our breath watching, but soon all were relieved as the bear continued on his way completely ignoring the humans whom to it must have seemed quite silly just standing there the whole time and not going for any of the delicious fish.
All of this excitement is an almost constant occurrence, how constant dependent upon the tide, the season, and the salmon’s spawning ritual. If looking for something beyond exploring the beaches of Vancouver Island, a visit to the Thornton Creek Salmon Hatchery must be checked off your list. It’s easy to find if you’re already on the west side of the island. Check out google maps for the exact location and directions using the address below.
Thornton Creek Cedp Hatchery
Alberni-Clayoquot, Subd. B, BC V0R 3A0