A spectacular journey on a beautiful October day. One of the best trips I ever experienced.
Another adventure on British Columbia's West Coast.
A spectacular mid-September adventure up Knight's Inlet.
Another West Coast adventure up Knight's Inlet
Beautiful Butte inlet in mid-October. The Last Hurrah before the winter shut-down.
October in the beautiful Bella Coola valley and the long journey there.
It was a beautiful fall morning in early October as we left the dock in Campbell River. After idling in the inner harbor in order not to create a wake the powerful twin engines on the open ridged hulled Zodiac boat came to life with a distinctive roar once we had cleared the breakwater, which shelters the harbor from the open water. The boat the guide would usually use, a cabin cruiser, had broken down several days earlier and was still in the shop for maintenance. Personally I prefer the open boat to a cabin cruiser as a photo platform because it offers an instant 270 degrees unobstructed view of the surroundings and works fairly well for shooting out toward the stern if need be. The boat had a full complement of eager passengers, ready to experience grizzlies and anything else to cross our way up close.
As we passed a small outcropping along our way while rounding Quadra Island we spotted a small group of Stellar Sea Lions resting on the backside of the rocks, their deafening barks filling the air. This was our first photo opportunity of the day. After a brief stopover and a number of photos we happened on to the next point of interest along the way, which happened to be a fishing trawler. Chum Salmon fishing season was in full swing and the crew was about to harvest the bounty of the sea. They had just begun to winch the net slowly out of the water as the, scooping the fish with smaller nets onto the fishing trawler and into its holding tank. Another photo opportunity, this time of hardworking commercial fishermen, who only have a limited time to fill their boat before the Chum salmon fishing season would close.
The remainder of the journey to our destination was rather uneventful as the Zodiac sliced through the smooth, dark blue water between Vancouver Island and the mainland revealing the breathtaking land and seascapes along the way. As the mainland drew near close to our final destination we were greeted by some Sea Gulls, which were perched on a log near the dock. After ditching our survival suits, (we were getting hot), we were introduced to our First Nations guide who had arrived to take us by bus to the viewing areas. Upon arrival at our first viewing area we spotted the first grizzly slowly making its way upstream on the opposite shore of the river. The bear, a big female, stopped to look back occasionally as she passed by some salmon carcasses which littered the gravelly river banks along her way. Another photo opportunity, some more pictures, then she disappeared into some bushes only to reappear further upstream. She stopped suddenly and stared with great interest upstream. The subject of her curiosity, another grizzly, was making its way downstream. Upon noticing the first bear it stopped, stared at it and then proceeded cautiously forward, going out of its way not to come too close to the first bear which by that time had started upstream again giving the second bear a lot of room to pass by without incident until she vanished in the forest.
The second grizzly, also a female, retracing the first bear’s steps in the opposite direction, made her way downstream, stopping occasionally to sniff and to check out the surroundings. As she drew closer one could see that her face was somewhat misshaped, perhaps the result from a fight she had been in at some point of her life. Along her way she stopped at a log, which had fallen into the river, and after a short while caught a salmon. She dragged it to shore and started to feed on it. I watched in amazement as the bear stripped the fatty skin from the fish with great dexterity with her teeth and ate it, discarded the rest of the fish and went on her way downstream.
Right on cue it was not long after that that the next bear appeared. Moving past the spot where the previous grizzly had its meal it checked out the discarded fish carcass. It then entered the river and tried to cross, but eventually decided to turn back and get back to the shore. While all this was happening I caught a glimpse of an old friend, a blue heron, flying downstream. Low above the water he was gliding graciously until the reached a logjam. Flapping his wings he gained altitude, landed on a log, flapped his wings some more to gain balance, and rested at that spot. By now the bear was about to disappear into the bush and our guide asked us to board the bus again so we could check out some more spots for bears. Along the way we stopped and were shown some day beds, which had been recently used by bears.
The new spot did not produce any bears but there were a number of young eagles, probably from this year’s brood, which were taking advantage of the onshore breeze and soared to new heights. Seagulls were also present, looking for food in the river. Our First Nation’s guide, pointing at the mountain closest to us, informed us that at one time mountain goats had been living there in the past. After a short while we boarded the bus again and headed back to the original observation spot. We arrived just in time to spot grizzly number four slowly approaching from downstream. It was just beyond the logjam where the blue heron had landed earlier. A raven, which was sitting on a branch in the logjam, watched as the bear started climbing over the logs with ease. As the bear got too close to him, the raven flew away. Shortly thereafter our guide informed us that it was time to head back to the Zodiac and start our return trip. Everybody donned their red survival suits and climbed on board. Where had the time gone? I was smiling. I had gotten some incredible bear shots and I was happy.
On the journey back we came across some more Stellar Sea Lions which were out looking for food, namely the afore mentioned chum salmons which were returning to their spawning ground this time of year. Further on I spotted some splashes and spouts off in the distance, which I pointed out to the captain. He immediately changed course in order to investigate. As it turned out some porpoises looking for food, namely Chum salmon, created the splashes. Upon spotting our craft they proceeded to circle the boat but not really jumping out of the water. I noticed that they were swimming under the boat and past the boat submerged. Seeing that it was impossible to get a shot of them jumping out of the water I turned to the next best thing, photographing them submerged. A tall order, but, in the end the mission was accomplished.
Leaving the porpoises behind we passed past another fishing boat laying out its net in the chase for the salmon. As it was getting late we kept going when we spotted some Pacific White Sided Dolphins not too distant from our route. Amongst them we saw a couple of Stellar Sea Lions trying to keep up to the dolphins. Suddenly there was dolphin action all around the boat: jumping, summersaulting, under the boat and beside the boat, all in all a “target rich” environment. It was there where I got the “money shot” of the day, a dolphin jumping out of the water with a big splash. Two frames and then the dolphin was gone.
But all good things must come to an end and as the boat sped up we left the dolphins behind. Passing by Quadra Island again I noticed a domestic cat sitting in the tall grass above the rocks surveying the approaching sunset. At this very moment the captain pointed out some Harbor Seals, which were resting on the cobbles below. Click, click, click: the shutter of my camera worked overtime for the last time on this glorious day. The remainder of the trip was quite uneventful. We pulled into Campbell River Harbor just as the sun started to set over Mount Washington.
It had been a beautiful July morning as we set out from the remote community of Telegraph Cove on the north end of Vancouver Island. The drive from Courtenay had been uneventful and I was looking forward to the trip with great anticipation. I had heard of the great grizzly viewing opportunities in Knight’s Inlet before but this was my first trip to the area. After everybody had boarded the vessel its engines came to life with a low rumble as the boat made its way out of the harbor and into the open water. The first photo opportunity came after only a few minutes of travel when we spotted the spout of a lone Humpback Whale some distance away in the calm water. It slowly dove away as it waved goodbye with its fluke and disappeared beneath the water’s surface not to be seen again.
Our next stop was “The Point”, an area where a large quantity of eagles soared in the breeze. It was nice to watch but, with the majestic birds scattered over a large area, I decided that this was not a great opportunity for photos. Even with a long lens the birds were too far away to get great detail on individual ones and with a wide-angle shot they would be only specs in the blue sky. So I passed on it and after a short while we moved on. We arrived at a rocky beach a short time later and our guide asked us to use our binoculars to scan it for “moving rocks”. It was low tide and it did not take very long to spot a mother grizzly and her two cubs foraging for food amongst the rocks. I am still amazed every time I watch bears turn over huge boulders with ease. The power is just incredible and the swiftness with which they can turn and react to the smallest noise is almost beyond belief. While mom was looking for tasty morsels under the scattered rocks the cubs took it upon themselves to explore the immediate surroundings at their leisure, knowing that at the slightest sign of trouble mother would be there in no time to make things right. It was great fun to watch the cubs disappear behind rocks and into the trees, just to see them reappear in the most unlikely places. Besides turning over rocks mother also enjoyed some of the mussels, which grew in abundance on the rocks as she was moving along the beach. After a while she decided that it was time for her and the little ones to disappear into the forest and that was the cue for us to move on.
The engines of the boat came to life once more and our little flotilla of three boats moved on to the next viewing opportunity. Two juvenile grizzlies, who seemed to have just been kicked out by their mother, were hanging out on the north shore of Knight’s Inlet. Feeding on the abundant mussels they ignored our presence, giving us an occasional glimpse only to return to the tasty morsels in front of them. Eventually, by season’s end, they will separate and go their own way, but for now they were content with each other’s company. Not far from this particular spot was a rather large patch of sedge grass which is the main food source for bears earlier in the season when other food sources are not as readily available. Low in nutrients, bears will have to eat vast quantities of the sedge grass to keep their energy level up. After drifting past the two juveniles grizzlies several times our guides decided that it was time to strike out for the next point of interest.
After everybody was safely inside the boat we headed across Knight’s Inlet again. It did not take very long to locate a mother and her cub on the south shore. The mother’s scarred, misshaped face told the story of the roughness of life out here and the tale of battles in previous years. Like the previous bears mother was feeding on the bounty on hand while the cub was exploring the beach on his own, staying closer to its mother than the cubs we observed earlier.
After a while it was once again time to move on to our next and final destination at Glendale Cove. As we turned the corner into the calm waters of the inlet we spotted a young grizzly out for its morning walk. The moment he spotted us as the boat was slowing down to take in the sight he became nervous and soon disappeared into the dense coastal forest. It happened so fast that I do not have a photo of the occasion. Further up the short inlet an osprey caught our attention. A skilled hunter, it hovered in place for a short while, only to dive into the brackish water from a great height. It emerged with a small fish in his claws and flew off to feed his growing family. Further on we reached the dock where we exchanged the cabin boats for some flat-bottomed observation skiffs, equipped with an upper level observation platform. We followed the shallow shoreline where we observed two more grizzlies. According to our guides one was the mother while the other was her cub, which she had just sent off to fend for itself. It still hung around and watched his mother forage for food from a distance. We observed both bears for a while. Then it was time to return to our boats and get ready for the journey back.
While travelling to Glendale Cove the wind had steadily picked up and the waves had gotten bigger. Now, as we entered Knight’s Inlet for our return trip, the waves had grown quite large and the trip had now turned into somewhat of a rollercoaster ride until we reached calmer waters. We stopped for a late lunch at a marina along the way. The lunch was quite delicious and after ample time we boarded our boats again for the return trip to Telegraph Cove. I decided to sit outside the cabin and enjoy the landscape as we were passing it by. Looking out the back I noticed several spouts, a telltale sign that whales are present, off in the distance. I was somewhat disappointed that we had not stopped to watch them, but we were on a grizzly tour and whale watching is somebody else’s livelihood. And it had been a great day so far: ten bears in a single day by any standards is quite good. So my disappointment did not last very long.
Just then we spotted some eagles fishing for herring. A school of herring had risen to the surface and eagles were lining up like aircraft on a runway. Slowed by the headwind they showed their skill of fishing. Eagle after eagle approached slowly, picking a spot and making the grab. If unsuccessful they just went to the back of the lineup and came in again for another try. It was incredible to watch and photograph and I ended up with some spectacular eagle shots. But all good things have to come to an end and we headed back to Telegraph Cove. The day had been incredible. A whale fluke, lots of grizzlies and the fishing eagles to top it all off! I was smiling all the way back on my long drive to Courtenay.
The drive from Port McNeil, where I had spent the night, had been quite uneventful with the exception of a Roosevelt elk cow and her two calves, which had crossed the road just ahead of me. They had retreated back into the forest, but they came back out into the open again and I was able to get a few shots of them before proceeding to Telegraph Cove. There I checked in at the office of the tour operator and munched on some muffins, which I washed down with some good, strong coffee. Now I was ready to for the adventure for which I had signed up. Out on the dock we awaited anxiously the call to board one of the three boats. I was to board the Kermode and once everybody was on board we set out on our adventure.
Once we had left the harbor the engine of the vessel came alive and we started heading out into Knight’s Inlet. Along the way we spotted some humpback whales and some sea lions. We stopped for the photo opportunities and then kept going. Of course the beautiful landscapes of British Columbia’s west coast gave some opportunities for some great shots but we were here to spot bears, especially grizzlies.
We did not have to wait very long to spot our first black bear. He spotted our boat and retreated back into the forest in an instant. No luck here. Our next photo opportunity came in form of a humpback whale, which was diving close to the rocky shore. A steep rock cliff where cormorants were clinging to its vertical face was our next chance for some cool shots. And then we spotted our first grizzly. It was crouched over some mussels, which it was devouring with delight. Once it was finished it got up, scratched itself and nonchalantly entered the water in search of some more food along the steeper parts of the rocky shore. After a while it emerged from the water once again. Still itchy it approached a rock face and scratched itself by rubbing itself against the lichen-covered rock for some time before disappearing into the forest. There was nothing to see anymore so the engines came alive again and we went in search for other opportunities.
Our next encounter were some harbor seals, which were resting comfortably on a small rock. The boat did not even slow down on our way to another small cove. The first thing I noticed was a blue heron, which was perched high up on a fallen, moss-covered, cedar log. And then I spotted the grizzly. It was hard to recognize because only its head was showing and it blended almost perfectly in against the mussel-covered rock face. Once it had eaten its fill It climbed out of the water, water pouring from its thick yellowish-brown fur. One quick shake and it made its way along the steep slope, stopping here and there to check out more mussels before entering the water again. After some more feeding it left the water again and did some posing for us. Then, after a short walk along the shore, it disappeared into the forest and the show was over. Time to move on.
We stopped for lunch in one of the small communities along the way. When I say community I am describing a few houses with a marina attached. These are places where one can obtain fuel for their vessels or just go onto shore after a day’s sailing and moor the boat for the night. The lunch was quite nice and once we were finished we went on our way again.
We did not have to wait long for our next encounter. It was a large black bear. Once it had decided that he had attracted our attention it disappeared into the forest, just like the first one. Another black bear garnered our attention. This one was courageous and stayed around for a little while to be photographed. But we were here to look for grizzlies so we left the black bear and kept on going. A grizzly sow and her three cubs attracted our attention. She saw our boat, collected her cubs and vanished into the forest.
By now it was late afternoon and our guide told us that we were going to check one more spot before heading back to Telegraph Cove. And we were in luck! This grizzly was the most entertaining of them all. It posed, nibbled on some berries in the bushes. It then entered the water where a leaf attracted his attention. It played with it for a while then decided to show off the power of its jaws by ripping kelp to shreds. It did some more posing and then disappeared into the forest just like all the other bears. The boat’s powerful engine came to life for the last time as we headed back to Telegraph Cove. All in all it had not been a bad day: it had started out slow but ended with a bang. On to my next adventure, whatever it will be.
It had been a busy year. The obligatory pre-sale facelift to get my house in top shape had taken some time, but the sale was behind me now and I was all settled in in my new home in Parksville. Photographically I hadn’t done much in quite some time for the obvious reasons, but I wanted to get one more trip in before season’s end. Knight’s Inlet came to my mind immediately. Every outing I had taken from there had been quite magical. Could the magic continue?
It had been an uneventful early morning drive from Port McNeil to Telegraph Cove where we had spent the night and checked in at our tour operator’s office. Filling out the waivers took no time at all, and we were ready to board one of the three brand new, identical vessels we found dockside. The loading went rather smooth, and we were soon on our way.
Our first stop came as usual at the Stellar sea lion colony, which I had visited on previous occasions. Click, click, went my camera and then we were off again toward the rising sun. The low cloud and foggy conditions allowed for some nice shots. And then we spotted some spouts. A pod of Orcas, all cows and calves passed us by. We stopped for a few shots before we kept going. After all we were here to see grizzlies. After a short journey we spotted a Black bear swimming across the cold water. He reached the shore, climbed up the rockface and disappeared into the forest.
Ten minutes on someone spotted movement on the shore. After further investigation the “moving rocks” turned out to be a pair of grizzlies, a mother and her almost adult cub. They enjoyed a lazy morning on the beach and didn’t be disturbed by our presence. We lingered for a few minutes before moving on toward our final destination, through fog banks and occasional low clouds. A flock of cormorants caught up with us and stayed with us for a while before turning away and disappearing in the distance. Eventually we turned the corner to Glendale Cove, our final destination.
A flock of seagulls (no, not the band) greeted us with their cries sitting atop some pilings. We switched from our boat to a flatbottom skiff, which allowed us to go into shallower water. And suddenly there were grizzlies everywhere, feeding on roots they dig up with their powerful claws, keeping a respectful distance from each other as to not encroach on each other’s turf and get into fights. This is First Nations Territory, and they want to protect their bears. The signs along the shoreline say it all. Rain had been threatening all morning and now the heavens opened up, a nice slow steady coastal drizzle. Everybody had their shots in their cameras, and we exchanged the open skiff for the boat. Along the way back we encountered two more individual grizzlies along the shoreline before stopping a marina for some lunch.
All good things have to come to an end, and we headed back to Telegraph Cove. The rest of the trip was uneventful, but as we had almost reached Telegraph Cove I looked back and saw a cruise ship cross the horizon. Could this be the inspiration for a future adventure? Disembarkation was swift and we found ourselves happily heading back to our hotel to spend the night before heading back to Parksville the next morning.
Xowox, the North Wind, was angry. It had been raining for an entire week and he was finally fed up. With all his might he swooped down from the North and swept the clouds away, bringing with him cold air and rough seas. The Homalco First Nation people do not speak of him for if they do, he will bring with him all of the afore mentioned troubles and more because he is evil. Homalco loosely translates to "People of The Swift Waters".
It was a clear morning as I left Parksville and headed north toward Campbell River on my way to my last guided adventure of the season. It was still dark, and the constellation of Orion was setting in the western sky while dawn's first light could be seen in the east. I had been booked and rebooked several times, but this finally was it. My only concern was that the high north winds from the previous evening had created high seas too rough to be handled by our vessel and the trip would be cancelled at the last minute. After stopping for a hearty breakfast in Campbell River I headed down to the docks and found out that the trip was on. We left on time and navigated the sometimes-choppy waters on our way to the Bute Inlet. Upon entering Bute Inlet, the seas were the roughest on this trip but i had seen much worse on other occasions and so we entered the Orford River estuary. We were not disappointed. Two grizzlies were hanging out there in search of food, keeping a respectable distance from each other. We anchored in the estuary and had lunch on the boat before heading to the dock.
At the dock we climbed onto one of the busses, which were provided by our hosts, the Homalco First Nation and, after a short stop at the Interpretive Centre, headed to a series of observation platforms from where grizzlies could be observed. There were Chum salmon in the river, but the bears were not fishing for them. They all seemed to be heading up the river and there were many great photo opportunities. Upon return to the Interpretive centre, we spotted a grizzly, which was on its way inside the camp. Once it spotted the bus it disappeared into the trees, waiting to reappear once the coast was clear.
After a short stop at the Interpretive Centre, we returned to the dock in just time to witness what happens when people are careless. Someone had left a cooler with food out on the rear deck of our boat and one of the grizzlies had claimed it as his prize, ripped the lid off its hinges and was in the process to devour some fruits and granola bars, which had been the content of the cooler. The bear was chased away but remained in the vicinity to reclaim its prize should the opportunity arise. By now the wind had turned and came now from a more westerly direction. The waves had died down somewhat and our return trip was fairly smooth sailing and uneventful. We stopped along the way to look at some sea lions and harbour seals before finally returning to Campbell River. As I drove down the highway back to my home in Parksville light slowly gave way to darkness and the constellation of the Big Dipper was rising in the eastern sky.
OF LANDSCAPES, GRIZZLIES AND A LESSON LEARNED
“I made it” I thought to myself as I turned off the highway and onto the parking lot of the boat launch. It was a beautiful early fall day in the Atnarko valley. I had started out early that morning and the drive from Prince George to Williams Lake had been in the dark as I needed to make as much use of the daylight as possible. I had driven it so often that I knew it like the back of my hand. A quick fill-up and I was ready to embark on my new adventure. Turning onto highway 20 I followed the road as it wound its way up the hill to the top of the Chilcotin plateau, revealing pretty new views with every new switchback. At the top of the plateau the road narrowed from four lanes to two. Road signs show distances of places like Riske Creek, Alexis Creek, Anahim Lake and Bella Coola. The numbers are rather large and this made me appreciate the vastness of this province of British Columbia which I am proud to call home.
Another road sign catches my attention: “Junction Provincial Park – 21km”. California Bighorn sheep are known to frequent the area. So I turn left and follow the road across cattle guards through cattle country toward the “Junction”. I stoped at a viewpoint overlooking the Chilcotin River Valley. From here I quickly scan the area with my binoculars – nothing. After about half an hour I decided that it is time to move on. After all this was only a side trip. My real purpose is to photograph the Atnarko River grizzlies. I followed the road back to the highway.
The highway wound its way west through cattle country interspersed with poor coniferous forests. It is dry up here, almost dessert like. I stoped occasionally to take advantage of some photo opportunities. Just past Anahim Lake the pavement stoped as I entered the south end of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and, after a few more kilometers the Bella Coola valley lay before me.
My mind drifted back: I had been here before. Thirty some years earlier I found myself on the way to what would prove to be a not so memorable fishing trip with some friends. Bruce broke his outboard motor, Jimmy injured his knee, which would need surgery and I lost my chain saw. We also did not have any fish to show for all our efforts. That time we arrived at this very same spot just as the sun rose behind us. The valley was hidden under a low cloud cover and looked as if someone had thrown some rather large cotton balls into the valley. This scene was illuminated by the low, red sunlight which filtered in from behind us and gave it a magical pink glow. And, just to make the scene more surreal, Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” was playing on the tape deck; a tribute to my uncle who was tragically killed in an ultralight plane crash only a few weeks earlier. I did not take a photo that day but the memory of that panorama is still engraved in my brain to this day.
But I reminisce. I got back in my car and start the descent into the valley. Driving the Heckman Pass is not for the faint of heart. It is nothing more than a dirt road which is only one lane in most places with the odd pullout. Meeting traffic coming the other way in the wrong spot could be problematic. Finally, after a few tense moments, I reached the bottom of the hill. As I crossed the bridge at the bottom I spot pavement on the other side. I follow the road until I saw a sign “Bear Viewing”. I park my car at the boat launch parking lot and start walking toward the gate which bars the road. I noticed a sign. It reads “Danger – Grizzly in Area – do not proceed”.
I had come too far and decide to pay extra attention as I move forward. I scan the area visually very carefully and work my way to the edge of the river. Along the way I noticed a powerful smell which grew stronger as I approached the river’s edge. And then the scene unfolds right before my eyes: approximately 250 meters downstream close to the opposite shore a grizzly stood upright on his hind legs in the river’s current fishing for salmon. A guided tour boat had anchored itself 75 meters in front of me on my side of the river and the patrons were busy taking photos of the bear. The source of the foul odor became also apparent. Hundreds of salmon carcasses were strewn across the shore and the river bottom, emitting a most powerful stench. I concentrated on taking my photos. I knew it was a long distance even for a powerful lens but that has never scared me before and I start shooting. The grizzly made short work of the fish he caught, pulling off the fatty skin and discarding the remains of the fish. After several salmon had found their demise by the hand of this skillful predator the bear had enough and climbed onto the massive root and slowly disappeared behind it. I was disappointed. But, as it happens so often, the grizzly reappeared from behind the root and slowly walked out of the water, shaking himself and sending water droplets cascading through the air in a display of beauty and grace. That was when I spotted the second grizzly. He had been fishing right in front of the root the whole time but due to his coloration he blended beautifully into the background. Even now that I am aware of his presence he is hard to spot. The second bear keeps fishing for a little while. The two seem to communicate with each other and grizzly number two emerges from the cold water, shaking off any excess water as he went. Twenty minutes and the show was over as the grizzlies disappear into the bush on the opposite bank.
My timing could not have been better. I returned to my car and followed the highway all the way to Bella Coola, rented a motel room and called it a day. The next morning I rose again early. I wanted to be on top of Heckman Pass just as early as the sun cames up. Perhaps an opportunity for a photo opportunity would present itself. Along the highway one of my friends from the day before was on his way to his favorite fishing hole. He was walking without a care in the world. When I pulled up to him he move quickly into the forest and that was the last I saw of him. The Heckman Pass is treacherous during the daytime but in the dark it is downright dangerous. I made it to the top just in time for the sunrise and had some nice photo ops, in.
My next order of the day was to find fuel for my car. I had tried to fill it up the night before but all gas stations had shut down for the night. It was shortly after 8:00am as I pulled into the only gas station in Anahim Lake. It was a cool Sunday morning in early October and the temperature hovered just above freezing. I was in luck. The gas station was open for business and the attendant on duty was eager to help me. I usually do not write about the people I meet along my travels but in this case I will make an exception. She was a pretty little thing with short blonde hair, warm brown eyes and pouty lips in her early to mid twenties, dressed in the western garb people wear in these parts. As she filled the tank of my car we struk up a conversation. I make a funny remark and she responds with a big smile. That was the moment when I had to muster all the decorum I had. She had very pretty teeth too with one flaw. Browned from the use of chewing tobacco with little pits sticking to them they reminded me of a very neglected toilet bowl. Wow. Only now did I spot the pouch of Redmen chewing tobacco sticking out from her shirt pocket. My gas tank was full and I quickly pay and drive off. I finally can smirk now. Poor girl.
There is not much going on in Anahim Lake these days. Several years ago the Mountain Pine Bark Beetle hit this area very hard. A sawmill established itself in the area and harvested all the beetle-infested wood and the community was humming. When the wood was gone they pulled out and all the jobs evaporated overnight. Spruce and pine need between 100 to 120 years to mature. Sometimes longer.
My next task was to find some breakfast and I remembered a restaurant I spotted along the highway on the previous day. I pulled into the parking lot, parked my car and walked up the stairs to the main entrance. I am about to open the door when I spot a sign: “Cash Only – We Do Not Accept Credit Cards Or Bank Cards”. Wow. I never carry cash! The last time that happened to me was in 1979 in Fort Nelson at a Chinese restaurant. A friend and I had to scramble to pay the bill that time. But this is 2015. Breakfast will just have to wait.
The rest of the trip was quite uneventful. I took some more landscape photos and I spoted a young mule deer. He is hung out on a small side road which leads into the forest and kept looking at me. It was the height of hunting season. Lucky for him I do not hunt. I wished him good luck, took a few shots and moved on. An eagle caught my attention. His white head feathers are soiled with the blood from the deer carcass in the road ditch nearby. A few more eagle pictures, some more landscapes and I finally started the descent into Williams Lake. Only now could I finally have my breakfast. It is early afternoon. After finishing my breakfast I filled up the car again and headed home. I needed to get some rest because my day job was waiting for me the next day.
Where is the “Lesson Learned” you ask? That came several days later. When I am out shooting I never check the quality of my images. I do that in my home office on my computer without any distractions. When I looked at the grizzly shots I was somewhat disappointed. They all were not quite in focus. After examining the photos further I found that an area in front of the grizzlies were in perfect focus. This had only happened one other time when I shot some elk crossing a shallow Lake. The angle to the water seemed to be approximately the same as well as the distance of the animals in relations to the camera. I am meticulous of keeping my focal point on the subject during shooting. After mulling the problem over for a few days I went and took some test shots with the same results. Operator error was not the cause. After some deliberation I decided that from now on all low angle shots over long distances on water will be shot with manual focus only. Problem solved.