Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking North Vancouver Island Straits Solo


When I woke up next morning, the tent was dry inside. However, everything was covered with heavy fog and it was drizzling.

My next destination was Hanson Island, about ten nautical miles away. To get there, I would have to paddle around the east part of Malcolm Island first and then cross Cormorant Channel. My time window for crossing the channel was very narrow: I needed an hour but could only cross during the slack between the tides, otherwise the powerful tidal currents in the channel would make this undertaking dangerous for a kayaker. Another requirement was a clear day: with the heavy traffic in the channel, crossing it in the fog would have been unwise. It did not look like a clear day to me, so I had to stay for another day in the same area, dedicating more time to the explorations and the photography. After finishing my breakfast, I returned to Lizard Point. The fog was getting less dense and I had managed to capture a picture of yet another cruise ship.

Later on, I saw a large animal swimming along the shore. It was too far away to capture a good image and only its head was visible. The head resembled those of a bear, of a brownish color, and I wondered what it was. If it was a bear, I was sure glad that, while seeing me, the animal did not get on shore to check me out. I had realized a few days later, after seeing the same type of animal much closer, that this was a Steller Sea Lion.

On a way back to the camp, I had captured this image: a small tree growing atop of a driftwood stump, a powerful symbol of life hanging on and struggling to survive.

It was time for lunch. I cooked pasta for lunch and dinner, but was so hungry that I ate it all. Consoling myself that I had plenty more pasta left than I actually needed, as I had taken extra as a food reserve, I had left to explore the shore south of my camp. I was planning to be out just for a short time, however the photography and the difficulties of moving along the shore, narrowed by the high tide and packed with the driftwood, extended my trip to 1.5 hours.

While there, I had captured an image of a bald eagle curiously looking at me from the tree top. 

The tree on the picture below, hanging on to a steep shore, was yet another reminder of how persistent the life could be in this difficult environment.

On my way back, when I was getting very close to my camp, I heard a warning call of a crow. Knowing a mischievous character of these birds, I had started worrying that I might have left some food unattended. Few seconds later, I saw two crows hurriedly flying away from my camp, and accelerated my return.

Sure enough, I had forgotten to hide the plastic bag with my pasta, and the birds took advantage of it. Most of the pasta was gone, with only one or two servings left. If I delayed my return by another 10 minutes, everything would have been finished. Suddenly, after expecting to enjoy a comfortable food surplus, I was on a tight ration and had to manage my meals very carefully from now on. Disappointing, and with no one to blame but myself.

I had a small bag of pancake flour and some honey that I kept for a special occasion, like having the guests over. I had decided to make pancakes for dinner that night, enough to have some leftovers for breakfast.

Before the darkness had fallen, I photographed a soaring amateur bald eagle. At least this one was not after my pancakes!

In the last several days, I had been observing strange creatures in large numbers, especially on dump days and in areas with deposits of kelp washed ashore. They were of a thumbnail size and moving by jumping. Some of them had ended their lives jumping in my cooking pot with boiling water, turning red like shrimp would. Birds were collecting them in large numbers. I have learned thereafter from the local marine biologist Phil Lambert that these were amphipods or beach hoppers.

It was getting dark and I had retired for the day with a hope for a good visibility in the morning.

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