Waterton Lakes National Park certainly does not get the attention it deserves but that also means less people and that’s not always a bad thing. Having explored most of the National Parks in Western Canada, Waterton still ranks as one of my favorites. These images were created outside of the park along the back roads.
I spent the past week driving to and from Vancouver Island to Waterton Lakes National Park. This was my first time travelling along the western portion of Highway #3, otherwise known as the Crowsnest Pass. The variation in landscape is quite profound as well as the temperature. After leaving 25+ degree weather in Osoyoos, I encountered a snowstorm a couple hours later just north of Cristina Lake.
In Sparwood, the Highway 43 junction will take you north to Elkford along the Elk River Valley. Later this month I will explore Elk Lakes Provincial Park and Josephine Falls. Unfortunately, this time the road to Elk Lakes was washed out and the weather turned to rain preventing a hike to Josephine Falls.
As I traveled along Highway 43 I noticed a Fordson Tractor displayed proudly in a homeowners front yard. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and knocked on the door. I was met with a friendly welcome by Arlene Punk who not only allowed me to photograph the tractor but also gave me some great tips on the local area. Much thanks to you Arlene.
I noticed this old truck a few weeks ago near the intersection of Cumberland Road and Comox Valley Parkway. I knew it was definitely having a closer look at.
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.