I spent the last few days of October exploring Highway 13 and surrounding areas in Southern Saskatchewan. This is known as “The Ghost Town Trail.” This was my second time visiting Saskatchewan but I didn’t get this far South when I visited in 2015. So, I’ve been wanting to get back.
Saskatchewan is undoubtedly one of Canada’s most beautiful and underrated provinces. There’s big prairie skies, long dirt roads and wide open spaces. The sunrises are magical and some of the best I’ve ever seen.
It was a successful trip, I only got chased off by one property owner and I saw Wolves on 3 separate occasions. The Wolves were quite skittish and I didn’t have my telephoto lenses with me. I wasn’t expecting to see Wolves.
A big thanks goes out to Kyla Black from Gathering Dust Photography for tipping me off on some very special locations. Be sure to visit her website to see her amazing work.
October 6th, 2021 – I set out this morning hoping to track a herd of Roosevelt Elk. They can at times be very elusive on Vancouver Island. After some “fence hopping” and bush whacking, I found a herd of 12 animals, being lead by a big bull.
The Roosevelt Elk are native to Vancouver Island and are the purest strain of Roosevelt Elk left in North America. The largest of the Elk species, a mature bull can weigh in excess of 1000 pounds. The Elk are “rutting” right now, so I was very careful to give the bull and herd plenty of space.
My 2022 calendar is ready for purchase. Order here: https://www.zazzle.ca/2022_orca_calendar-158892054682266667100% of proceeds will be going to support OrcaLab and the important work they’re doing.
The lighting couldn’t have possibly been any worse, so these images are by no mens my best but what a performance on October 2nd! Thank you again, Nick Templeman and Yukon, #chiefwhalespotter from Campbell River Whale & Bear Excursions!
Stanley, named after Stanley Park in Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, is a male Killer Whale who was born in 2000. Stanley is the first offspring of Sidney (T123) and has two younger siblings, Lucky (T123C) and Darcy (T123D). Another younger sibling, Thrasher (T123B), has been missing since 2011 and is presumed to have passed away. Stanley received his name after he made a rare visit to Vancouver’s Inner Harbour in May 2011. Later that same year, Stanley and his mother were discovered stranded on a beach near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, but they were able to swim away a few hours later when the tide came up. They have been seen many times since and appear to have suffered no ill-effects from the stranding.
In a matter of less than 3 weeks, I have seen either on or right by my camping beaches, Humpback, Orca and two Black Bears. I guess I shouldn’t forget about the Porpoises, Seals, River Otters, Sea Otters that also visited and certainly not the snakes that my friend Jeff constantly befriended, right beside his tent at Garden Point on Nootka Island.
Garden Point – Nootka Island
Between July 27th and August 2nd, our party of three, Kirsten Hathaway, Jeff Kolebaba and myself paddled out to Garden Point on the north end of Nootka Island. Further information about the camping area can be found here: Garden Point east (bcmarinetrails.org)
The paddling route required us to launch at Little Espinosa Inlet. Little Espinosa Inlet west (bcmarinetrails.org) The launch was easy and as we paddled out of the little inlet, it reminded me of Johnson Lagoon on South Brooks Peninsula. Exploring Johnson Lagoon | Nature Photography by Martin Ryer (mryerblog.com)
As we left Little Espinosa Inlet and entered Espinosa Inlet, we were faced with turbulent waters and high winds coming from the south, very much impeding our progress. We made it 70% of the way down the inlet and to our intended destination before taking a break at a little beach located here: 49.889952, -126.917817. I have dubbed this beach, “Kolebaba Beach” and have recommended it’s use to BC Marine Trails by completing a site assessment report on Knack.
After taking a break on “Kolebaba Beach” our group decided to carry on to Garden Point and cross over Esperenza Inlet, as the winds had diminished. The crossing was enjoyable and we were met with gentle ocean swell breaking through on the northwest side of Center Island. We arrived at mid tide which required long walks up the east end of the point to make camp.
Some notes and considerations if you’re visiting this location:
- High winds can funnel up and down Espinosa Inlet, potentially assisting you on the water or requiring you to get off the water. There’s locations to safely land along the east side of the inlet and wait out the winds but aside from “Kolebaba Beach” they’re not great and wouldn’t make for ideal camping if the winds did not diminish.
- A lot of recreational and commercial fishing boat activity occurs just off Garden Point, disrupting the scenic views and natural surroundings and presenting a serious hazard if one was to attempt crossing in the fog.
- Black Bears are present in the area and there’s been reports of Wolves. The Black Bear we encountered on the beach was respectful of our presence, as we were to his. Hang your food! More information about recreating in Black Bear country can be found here: Staying Safe in Bear Country – BC Parks
- This is a fairly highly used area to access Nuchatlitz Provincial Park – BC Parks, no toilet facilities were observed but the construction of one has been recommended to BC Marine Trails.
- At mid or low tides, the carrying of gear and kayaks is absolutely dreadful on the east side of the point. Admittedly, even with paddling partners to help, it was exhausting. Plan your landing and launches accordingly and if possible, consider making camp on the west side of the beach as there’s both forested and bluff camping opportunities available.
- Brodick Creek intersects the east and west sides of the point and offers clean, fresh drinking water.
- Jeff found a tree stump, filled with water and mud here: 49.845828, -126.899530, if one was interested in having a truly natural “bath.”
- Local recreation fishing boats and their occupants by no means are interested in sharing any of their catch.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE BC MARINE TRAILS CODE OF CONDUCT
July 23rd, 2021 – North of Campbell River. T090C is a large female Transient Orca.
I spent a wonderous 5 days camping and sea kayaking in Johnstone Strait between July 16th and July 20th. I made Spy Hop Beach my basecamp. It’s located just west of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve.
On the afternoon of the 17th, a pod of Northern Resident Orca passed right by my beach and later than evening, also a Humpback Whale. On the afternoon of July 19th I was visited by another pod, including “Springer” and her two calves, “Spirit” and “Storm.” Springer is one of the most famous Orca in the World and it was an honor to meet her and her offspring. One of the calves actually breached in front of my kayak.
You can learn more about Springers amazing story here:
On May 15th, myself Martin Ryer and two guides from Grey Wolf Expeditions, Dan Whalen and “Wild Bill Elliott” not only managed to get inside Johnson Lagoon, but we made it all the way back to the end and we completed a circumnavigation. It’s very unlikely that any Sea Kayaker has ever done this.
Johnson Lagoon is located on South Brooks Peninsula. A large body of water flows in and out of the narrow opening, so you have to time things perfectly with the slack tide, otherwise it can be very dangerous. The Lagoon is surrounded by towering mountains on either side which can funnel heavy winds. There’s several small beaches or estuaries that can be reached, mostly on the north side that would be feasible for camping. A small waterfall exists as well on the south side of the Lagoon. It was very special to visit a place that has seldom been explored.
A big thanks goes out to Jaclyn Allison from KCFN Marina and Campground in Fair Harbour for helping to arrange Water Taxi transportation for us out to “The Bunsbys.” We definitely want to tip our paddles to Tony Hanson from Siiqaa Water Taxi. Tony is very friendly, knowledgeable and most of all, reliable. He made sure we got dropped off and picked up on time and safely. If you’re planning any remote drop off or pickup in the greater Kyuquot area, I highly recommend Tony. He has in depth local knowledge and his rates are very reasonable.
Lastly, I had two great paddling companions! Dan and “Wild Bill” were both class acts and it was great to share this adventure and experience with them.
Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, and frogs. I was able to photograph these Owls on April 19th, including an Owlet.