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Photo bombed by grizzly bears

Thanks to the generous support of Joes Sports and Quattra, local celebrity environmentalist and Sault Ste.
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Thanks to the generous support of Joes Sports and Quattra, local celebrity environmentalist and Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame inductee Gary McGuffin is checking in from spots along the way on the latest expedition with the Wilderness River Expedition Art Foundation.

This year's expedition will paddle and explore the Noatak River in Alaska. 

SooToday.com visitors are invited to share questions for McGuffin in the comment section below. 

Here are the latest on the spot updates from McGuffin.

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August 10, 2011
 
Gary McGuffin and the crew of art adventurers traveling with him got what they were looking for on the very first day they set out on the Noatak River in Alaska, Saturday.

A momma grizzly and her cub came right down the hill on the opposite side of the river from the group as McGuffin was setting everyone up for a setting out photo.

Unfortunately the grizzlies were a bit too far across the wide river to catch with a camera, McGuffin said, but it was an exciting send off.

Especially since the duo followed along on shore a bit before heading out into the mountains of the Brookes Range, the source of the clear, cold Noatak River.

The six-member group will be spending the next month on the Noatak River shooting photographs, doing field sketches and paintings and otherwise gathering field materials for studio productions they plan to execute over the coming winter.

They started out on the river a few days after being dropped off by the float planes because they wanted to familiarize themselves with the equipment and the plans for the trip, McGuffin said. 

Three expedition members had no wilderness canoeing experience in such an isolated area and the more experienced group members wanted to make sure they were comfortable in the canoes and in the great open expanse of wilderness.

 But they soon took to the canoes like ducks to water.

McGuffin said they would be starting the expedition off slow with shorter paddling days and plenty of opportunities for exploring and gathering field reference.

The group planned to spend Saturday on a mountain hike.

They hoped to find dall sheep, maybe some caribou and possibly even a grizzly bear or two.

They knew, at the very least, they would be treated to some stunning vistas and dramatic scenery, McGuffin said.

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August 8, 2011
 
We're on the Noatak River.
 
We flew in Yesterday.
 
We had a bit of poor weather early in the morning but we came in under pretty nice clear skies.  
 
There were squalls and we watched rainbows as we flew through them.
 
Looking down over these huge, massive mountains with hanging glaciers we could see dall sheep and mountain goats.
 
Everybody is happy and healthy.
 
Today we're going to be putting the canoes together and hopefully heading out on the river. 
 
I'm sitting here right on the edge of the river.
 
It's beautiful, cold and clear.
 
We're in a big bowl and the peaks rising around me are thousands of feet high.
 
Looking to the right I can see a hanging glacier and the sun was glistening off that last night.
 
We camped right on top of grizzly bear tracks and everybody is excited about getting out on the river today.
 
It is cold and there may be a bit of a threat of rain.  
 
To follow expedition progress on the spot by map, please click here
 
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Earlier coverage of this SooToday.com story
 
 
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Carol Martin

About the Author: Carol Martin

Carol Martin has enjoyed more than 17-years experience in journalism to date. Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Carol has also lived and worked in Constance Lake First Nation, Sudbury and Kingston.
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