Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo


I woke up at 8:00am – the whole area was covered with fog, and it was drizzling. My plan was to stay for a day and try to find and photograph the orcas that, according to various sources, frequently visited the rubbing beach located in a nearby park at Bere Point.  However, I would have to wait until the fog dissipated, and this might take hours.

After unsuccessful attempts to light up the fire, I made a breakfast of cereal and coffee with hot water from the thermos that I filled up at dinner.

The difficulties with starting my cooking fires were a serious concern that had to be urgently addressed. One successful approach that I had used over many years for starting fires was small pieces of plastic. It they were of the right kind, they could be lighted up easily and would continue burning for a minute or so, enough time to dry and light up small splinters from the driftwood readily available on shore. 

Due to the ongoing logging in British Columbia, its shores are covered with the driftwood, from isolated logs to huge piles built up over years by violent storms. Besides the driftwood, there is plenty of other litter washed ashore, including plastics, from tiny articles to bottles to large pieces. They are everywhere: if you see a deposit of driftwood, you will find the plastic.

While the fog was still thick, I had decided to spend a couple of hours collecting the plastics and replenishing my water reserves. Among the items that I had collected were soft drink bottles, engine oil and additives containers, and various pieces of plastic. After trying them all I had found that caps from soft drink bottles made the best fire starters, if split in halves: they were easy to light up at the sharp edges and would last long time, burning like a candle. From that moment on, starting the fire was no longer an issue.

On my way to the fresh water source that I found a day earlier, I had encountered a family of river otters. They were surprised to see me, but departed in no hurry, getting to water one by one and then regrouping behind the surf area.

It was a midday when I returned to the camp and cooked the lunch. The fog had been disappearing, but the wind had increased building up significant surf. I realized that kayaking was out of question, as I would not be able to launch it through the pounding waves. Instead, I took my camera and went to explore the shore between my camp and Bere Point, and the regional park that was protecting Bere Point.

There were some signs of human presence along the beach, including the shelters.

There was some boating activity, mainly small fishing boats close by, but also cruise ships navigating through Queen Charlotte Strait.

Although I stayed at Bere Point for some time, I saw no orcas. Maybe the surf was too violent; maybe the killer whales visited the beach infrequently. I then walked a short trail within the park exploring the area and learning about local flora and fauna from numerous signs. Instead of returning to my camp along the beach, I hiked part of the Bere Point - Malcolm Point trail.

My dinner was the mushrooms that I had collected earlier, accompanied by rice and washed down with tea.

I was disappointed that I saw no orcas – my main reason for visiting that area -- and had decided to stay for another day. I finished the day admiring the warm colors of the sunset.

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