This was my third time camping on Vargas Island north of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound. The first time was not by choice, the second time involved a strenuous hike with way too much gear but the third time was indeed a charm. Transportation by boat to the pocket beach adjacent to Ahous Bay was arranged with a friend (I wont disclose the individuals name) and the weather was fantastic for our two night stay. On the first night while dinner was being prepared I spotted a lone Wolf 5-6 meters from where I was sitting peering at me from behind the treeline. I think the Wolf was simply just curious. Vargas Island is known for it’s healthy Wolf population and unfortunately the habituation of these animals. I didn’t take any chances and scared the Wolf away before I was able to take a picture but it certainly was a thrill to see such a wild and majestic animal if only for a few seconds.
The Kinsol Trestle is one of eight trestles along the Cowichan Valley Trail route and by far the largest and most spectacular. The Kinsol Trestle is one of the tallest free-standing and most spectacular timber rail trestle structures in the world. At 187 meters in length and standing 44 meters above the salmon bearing Koksilah River, the Kinsol is an incredible structure.
Much thanks to Marven Robinson and the Gitga’at people for all that they do in helping to raise awareness and preserve the Great Bear Rainforest.
In July of 2013 I paddled from Tofino and made my base camp at Blunden Island. The following morning I set out to paddle across to Vargas Island. The crossing is only 2 km at best and conditions were calm. The goal was to photograph the Wolves on Vargas Island and because the crossing was minimal I only brought along a few provisions, minimal food, a little bit of water and that was about it. Upon approaching the beach on Vargas I noticed waves were breaking rather abruptly. I was committed and in the surf zone, having never surf landed before I braced for impact. Needless to say, upon landing I got wet. Fortunately the sun was coming up over the treeline and it didn’t take me long to dry off. I was so focused on the Wolves that I didn’t notice the mid morning winds picking up. What was otherwise calm water outside the surf zone turned into something else entirely. I was stranded, with minimal provisions! Even if I did get outside the surf zone, conditions in the channel were too treacherous for my skill level. I spent the night on Vargas Island by a fire, my PFD served as a pillow and the Wolves my companions.
Conditions improved somewhat overnight and early the next morning I was eager to attempt to get back to my base camp on Blunden Island. Sleeping on a beach and being hungry and thirsty will cloud ones judgement. My first attempt at a surf launch did not succeed, a huge breaking wave on the edge of the surf zone threw me out of my kayak and into some rocks. I sustained several cuts on the sharp jagged rocks. The wave struck me with such force that even one of my water shoes was lost. Fortunately the fire from the night before was still burning so I was able to warm up and plot my strategy for getting off this wretched but otherwise beautiful island. My second attempt was much more methodical, I studied the water for 10-15 minutes and then made my move. I managed to get outside the surf zone and paddled as hard as I could and safely made it back to Blunden Island. It was a rather harrowing experience but I look back on it now as a great learning opportunity.
- Always pack enough provisions no matter what distance or duration when travelling from your base camp.
- Be aware of changing weather conditions at all times.
- Learn how to surf land and surf launch.
Surf landing and surf launching resources
Luckiest Man in the Pacific!
June 5th, 2013
Last week, Comox Valley photographer Martin Ryer (www.mryer.com) found himself stuck on Spring Island without a paddle. His boat and the driftwood it was tied to floated off in the night. He found his boat down the beach, but lost his paddle. He then scoured the island for a solution (while enjoying the sights) and found our camp and an old canoe paddle stashed for the winter. He described jumping up and down as though he’d won the lottery!! The luckiest man in the Pacific then made his way to Kyuquot for a water taxi ride out! Lessons: store your boat high, tie it to something solid, carry a spare paddle and VHF, and take lots of great photos to get you through the experience! Thanks for sharing your story and these images Martin, and for letting us know where to find the canoe paddle we’ll be looking for next week!
Tonight I got to try out my new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. I had a lot of back light and difficult texture and skin color to compose but overall this lens performed fantastic.
A True Champion of Bears
Charlie Russell (born August 19, 1941) is a Canadian naturalist known for his study of Grizzly Bears. Russell grew up in Alberta in the Canadian Rockies as the son of the well known hunter, guide, film maker, and naturalist Andy Russell. Charlie and his two brothers learned about the wilderness from their father, assisting him as adventure guides and cameramen. His brothers went to college and became biologists, while Charlie became a rancher. But he was fascinated by Grizzly Bears, trying to overcome their image as savage killers by making his cattle ranch open to Grizzlies and leading ecotourists on bear-viewing trips (as opposed to hunting which had previously been the objective of Grizzly tours). He has tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to convince wildlife officials to treat bears with respect and trust, arguing that it is people’s fear of bears and aggressive actions toward them that makes them dangerous. Russell is best known for his ten years of field work in Kamchatka, where he taught local guides how to lead bear-viewing tours. He began to buy orphaned Grizzly cubs from zoos, taking them into remote areas of Kamchatka and teaching them to be wild. He has been the subject of two television documentaries: Walking with Giants: The Grizzlies of Siberia (PBS, 1999) and Bear Man of Kamchatka (BBC, 2006)
I picked up Nikon’s new AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR this weekend. This lens will offer outstanding versatility for wildlife photography. Now, if only I could find some Mountain Lion.
Astounding views, comfortably in reach
Wherever your passion lies, this outstanding super telephoto zoom lens can bring it into focus. Capture and share stunning views of birds, wildlife, motorsports, athletes, performers, landmarks and other faraway subjects. A fast f/5.6 constant aperture gives your shots beautifully out-of-focus backgrounds across the entire zoom range. Turn fast-moving action into dazzling photo sequences—the electromagnetic diaphragm operates in sync for the fastest subjects and shutter speeds while Vibration Reduction image stabilization keeps your shots sharp and steady. And in the rare cases when additional reach is needed, you can increase the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR’s zoom power with an optional Nikon 1.4x, 1.7x or 2x teleconverter.
Lightweight, compact super telephoto zoom
Whether your subject is far in the distance or close, fast or slow, you can land the shot. On FX-format cameras, 500mm brings distant birds, wildlife, athletes, performers, landmarks and more into tight focus. DX-format cameras add an additional 1.5x zoom effect for an angle of view equivalent to a whopping 750mm! And despite that extreme power, you can also focus on subjects as close as 7.2 feet away for detail rich close-ups.
Sharpen your vision
4.5 stops of Vibration Reduction
At super telephoto distances, the smallest camera movements can cause image blur. Vibration Reduction image stabilization counteracts camera shake up to ~4.5 stops** for sharp photos and steady videos. You also can shoot at slower shutter speeds in low light—great for those magic moments at dawn and dusk. Sports Mode is optimized for camera pans and other movements common when shooting fast action.
Advanced Nikon lens technology
Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass cuts through the glare of bright sunlight. Silent Wave Motor (SWM) powers ultra-fast, near-silent autofocusing with seamless manual override. The Electromagnetic diaphragm (E) operates in sync with the fastest shutter speeds and frame rates, even when using an optional teleconverter. Always bring home views that amaze.
I spent the first weekend of February in Vancouver with my girlfriend and her family. It was a great time and I’m truly blessed to have the people that I do in my life! By no means will I ever claim to be a “big city guy” but there’s something about Vancouver that captures my imagination. It truly is a collection of everything Canada has to offer from coast to coast to coast and everything in between. It was a great opportunity to try out my new Nikon 1 AW1 and as well step a little outside my usual genre and try some “street photography.” I must say I am pretty happy with the results and surprised at how basic principals apply to different realms and subject matter. I may experiment with this a little further as time goes along.
I’ve been wanting to check out Neck Point Park in Nanaimo for awhile now. It was a good chance to try out my new Nikon 1 AW1 which I’m quite impressed with so far.