Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Princess Royal Island: 

My First Adventure in the Wonderland of Bears, Wolves and Salmon


Woke up at around 7:00am. The VHF forecast was not encouraging: rain coming in a day. Checked my barometer: it was falling. However, the day had started dry and foggy. I had scheduled my departure for the afternoon, to take advantage of the tides. After breakfasting on dinner leftovers and warm coffee from the thermos, I had left my camp for a final walk in the area. No new discoveries. Back to camp by 10:30am; the barometer was still falling. The fog was gone and some clouds were moving in. Departed at 2:00pm. 

Once out of the no-fishing zone, started trolling for salmon, with no luck. Picturesque islets along the way justified slowing down to take a few photographs:

Islet in Laredo Inlet

While on my way, I was checking creeks entrances for signs of bears/wolves. Lots of salmon in creek mouths, patiently waiting for a decent rain. Well, their wish would be granted very soon! No visible signs of salmon-feeding wildlife on the shore; however, I did not have enough time to step out and explore the creeks. Laredo Inlet was narrowing down ahead, promising hilly shores and interesting views.

Laredo Inlet View

Exploring the shoreline had delayed me significantly and I only entered Alston Cove at close to 7:00pm, with about an hour of daylight left to find a campsite and pitch the tent. The sky was still covered with lots of small puffy clouds; no rainclouds yet. Once in the cove, saw an anchored sailboat. Mixed feelings, as usual: on one hand, the place was not as wild as I wanted it to be. On  the other hand, people meant more safety: an important factor when alone in the wild. Also, virtually all the boaters whom I had encountered before were a wonderful company. Had a brief chat with the owners, a retired couple from Victoria. They had been traveling around Princess Royal Island. Stayed in this cove "for some time", planned to be here a bit longer. Had not seen any bears yet. I had to decline a very generous dinner invitation: with less than an hour of daylight left, my top priority was the camp.

Sailboat in Alston Cove

Initially, I had paddled up the creek, not far, possibly 300m or so: any further access was blocked by an almost submerged tree fallen across the creek. Returned into the cove and, after some explorations, found a decent place for a camp inside the forest, among tall trees.

View on Alston Cove Campsite at Low Tide

It was almost the time of twilight; however, I decided to go fishing, since I was planning to stay here for at least a day: enough time to cook and start eating a salmon if I would get one. After paddling some distance away from the shore, with no successful casts, I had finally caught a Coho salmon. It was a strong fish: although I did manage to get it inside my kayak, taming it was a different story. The prolonged fighting left me and everything around covered in slime. So much for my plans to keep my stuff clean and avoid any smell of fish on my clothes and my kayak, potentially attracting bears! Finally, managed to get the salmon inside a large plastic bag, and headed back to the shore.

Leaving the fish for later, I had dedicated as much time and energy as I could to building a dry and comfortable camp. The tent was stretched properly, with a large tarp above it, leaving enough space for storing my belongings and entering/exiting the tent without getting exposed to the rain. Another tarp protected a kitchen area. Collected some dry wood for my stove and then, in already total darkness, with help from my headlamp cleaned and filleted the fish. Sprinkled the cuts with salt and placed them inside a sealed plastic barrel, for cooking in the morning. More than 3kg of fish: this would last me for quite a few days! By the time I was done, it was already 1:30am! 

Completely exhausted, with no energy to cook, I had a few slices of salami and cheese with biscuits and water. Got in bed by 2:00am: just when I stepped inside the tent, the first drops of rain had fallen.

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