Monday, February 02, 2009

Yukon Wrap-up

We DID make it to the Yukon!
Sheep Mountain and Kluane Lake, Yukon
We just stopped blogging during the trip as we rarely had electricity let alone Internet access (we both have blogs over at now) . Actually it was liberating to not have to blog every few days. It left us free to just concentrate on the trip, the wonderful vistas, and the real purpose of the trip: the taking of the pictures. Or at least we were as free as having to make regular backups would let us be (see more on this topic in an earlier posting: It stays light so late in the Yukon in the summer! Instead of shooting on July 29, we spent the evening sitting at the picnic table at our campsite at Kathleen Lake in Kluane National Park with Ron making backups (power provided by our van's battery) and me writing in my journal. Only at midnight did it get so dark that we needed a lantern to continue our tasks. I'm not sure we ever really discovered "first morning light" in the Yukon. We had to settle with just getting up as early as we could manage. From the Yukon (click to view more Yukon images) we even had a side trip south into Atlin, BC, often referred to as the little "Switzerland of the North", and to Haines, Alaska - which is also south from Haines Junction, YT down the very beautiful Haines highway and through BC's Tatshenshini-Alsek Park. In a car both these towns are only accessible via the Yukon. Other highlights of the trip that weren't already mentioned in previous blog posts:
  • camping in a tent beside Kluane Lake in the height of soapberry season in the Congdon Creek Campground in spite of the Yukon's warning signs that tents weren't safe due to bears.
  • surviving the drive down and back up the very scary and steeply pitched dirt mountain switch back road the locals call "The Hill" to Tweedsmuir Park, and Bella Coola BC. Parts of the road are wide enough for 2 vehicles - others not. Traffic going up have the right of way. Apparently the road was built by 2 guys with bulldozers - one starting at the top the other from the bottom. They eventually met somewhere in the middle and voila a road!
  • cooling off and camping at Pyper Lake one of BC's Forestry Service many recreation areas.Ron even got shots of his nemesis bird - a belted kingfisher. It was so hot if you weren't in the water or the shade you would feel like you could spontaneously combust! We ended up having to leave when smoke could be seen across the lake. Smoke from BC forest fires definitely was a problem for photographing landscapes during this trip. But that isn't surprising considering the heat and the ecological disaster caused by the mountain pine beetles. Huge areas of monoculture forest such as this one one in Tweedsmuir have been destroyed. Note every red tree is a dead tree!
  • having a black bear sneak up behind Ron as he sat at the edge of the beta pool at Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park. I warned him and he managed to scare it off just by standing up and clapping his hands. It was the middle of a rainy afternoon so we didn't even have a camera with us at the time! We were relieved the bear did go away though. Earlier we had seen the same bear being chased off by the Park Ranger with bear bangers (flares) and rubber bullets to its butt, but we didn't have a camera then either!
  • driving the Alaska highway through northern British Columbia and the area called the "Serengeti of the North" with its abundant wildlife. Caribou, Bison, Stone Sheep, Red Fox, and Beaver were just some of the animals we would see and photograph. This fox got so close to Ron that he could use a wide angle lens to photograph it. Ron decided it was in fact too close when the fox started to tug on the frayed edges/fringe around a hole on the knee of his jeans!
  • pitching our tent right beside the very beautiful turquoise waters of Muncho Lake in Muncho Lake Provincial Park. We marveled over how the sun would light up various mountain ranges around the lake at different times a day - like this one to the west/behind the campground that was lit up with peach tones after 11:00 pm.
Those are just a few of the highlights. To see what we've been up to lately check out our new blogs on our web page at: Ron Erwin's blog: Lori Erwin's blog:

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Please DO eat the daisies (and leave the orchids alone) - more Wells Gray

Wells Gray Provincial Park is known for its many waterfalls with 39 inside the park and therefore deserves its nickname "Canada's Waterfalls Park". It is also known for its many black bears but up until today we haven’t seen any. That would soon change when we would spot 8 black bears (1/2 were cubs) in just a 2 hour time period while we drove the road from the campground to Helmcken Falls and back. One cub in the two sets of twins that we glimpsed was brown or cinnamon like its Mother. The park is quite forested so the bears like to forage along the roadside clearings where the wildflowers are abundant. They were all so busy grazing that it was a hard to get a non-blurry photograph that included a head and not just a big furry butt. The one above finally stopped long enough to get a shot - perhaps it stopped to smell the flowers?
We’ve noticed that the bears seem to enjoy eating mostly non-native plants like dandelions and red clover. But much to our enjoyment these roadsides also had many beautiful patches of native lupines, rein orchids, and tiger lilies just waiting to be photographed. Sometimes Ron was even lucky enough to get both the lupines (purple) and the tall white rein-orchid (white) in the same shot (left). These orchids smell wonderful and so are also sometimes called Fragrant White Orchid or Scent-candle.

The tiger or Columbia lily (right) is easily distinguished from the larger wood lily with its single erect bloom as the tiger lily’s flowers hang or droop in showy clusters with petals curling back towards the flower base.

At 141 meters, Helmcken Falls (left) is the 4th highest in Canada of the straight plunging type waterfalls. It is just a short hike from the parking lot to the viewing platform, but remember to take your insect repellent as the mosquitoes are hungry!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Paddle Harder! - Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC June 25-26

After spending the night trying to cool off in a motel pool in Cache Creek we headed further into BC's hot interior to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Unfortunately the Clearwater Lake campground doesn't have any good swimming spots but we managed to find a spot near the picnic grounds were we could dunk or wade at the edge of the cold water being careful not to go out to far lest we get caught in the extremely fast current that could sweep us over Osprey Falls. There were signs warning about no boating yet there was a boat reeking of gas parked right beside us. Needless to say we survived the current but were rather pestered by some big and disgusting bugs that were everywhere and would suddenly drop out of trees onto our heads, get stuck in my hair, crawl into our clothes or backpacks to surprise us later, or just make a disgusting crunch sound underfoot. Apparently the fish like them though. We decided the only way to actually see this lake is by canoe (not to mention to find a good bug free swimming spot) so we rented one that evening and at 6:30 am June 27 we headed up the long and narrow Clearwater Lake on the mirror flat water toward the snow-capped Cariboo Mountains as this photo shows. We stopped at several campsites and eventually settle on Belleview Beach about 8km up where we will swim, have lunch and I'll get stung by a bee on the inside of my knee. The nerve! But better me than Ron since he is allergic and swells up miserably. On me the quarter-sized swollen red-spot disappears in a couple of hours. It doesn't mean it hurts any less though. At about 10:00am a light & cool breeze picked up off the Cariboo Mountains to the North that was just enough to keep us from getting too hot in the shade of our umbrella. A little after noon a sudden hot gust of wind off the Kootney Mountains to the south turned our umbrella inside-out and thus changed the state of the lake for the rest of the day from nearly flat to one with bow-topping waves. We decide perhaps mistakenly to head back south in the wave-whipping head-wind and across the lake to Divers Bluff to cut our 8km's back to the dock into smaller chunks. However once we set out again for the dock we decided that the best protection (not that there really was any) from the horrendous wind was on the other side of the lake. There were a few "tense" moments during our two hour paddle back to the dock and quite a few times we felt like we were paddling hard and going nowhere. However we eventually arrived safe & sound, even if we and the canoe were not exactly dry. We delivered the canoe back to its owner right at the promised time—12 hours after we had set off. Ron remarked that the strong wind didn't even help to keep us cool in the equally intense sun. What good is a wind that doesn't cool you off? However we thought that it wasn't a bad workout for our first time out in a canoe this season.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Got a Peek of a Pika - June 22-25

After staying in a series of BC provincial Parks we finally discovered the BC Forestry Service Recreation areas. They have the same services (pit toilets and picnic tables) without the gates and maybe even the fees! We camped right in Cayoosh Creek Recreation Site on June 24 right beside the creek (a raging river to us). On the opposite creek bank was a talus slope where we discovered this pika (above). In Euroasia that is pronounced peeka but in NA it is pie-ka. The campgrounds was also near Duffey Lake Provincial Park (below) where we had visited in 1998. It hasn't changed much execpt the dead trees are leaning a little more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Steller! The raging river & thundering river tour June 19-21

After taking the ferry from Nanimo back to the main land we headed up the sea to sky highway towards Whistler. This highway is called the "sea to sky" highway but for us it was more like the raging river and thundering waterfalls highway. We stopped at Shannon Falls near Squamish on June 19, camped at Brandywine Falls on June 20 and Narin Falls on June 21 (right above the raging river). At Brandywine Falls Ron spent most of his time photographing Steller Jays (above). Oh, and we did do the 5 minute hike to the falls to get a few shots of it too (below)!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Starfish Orgy & Surfer Dudes - June 14-18

We camped in the rainforest at Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island where it of course rained for all but 1 & 1/2 days. Actually in the rainforest it continued to drip I'm sure long after we were gone. It was impossible to dry out our tent there. At low-tide we hiked into Schooner Cove were you would see landscapes like this Island (below) but on closer inspection of the Island's edges you would find all kinds of sea creatures clinging to the rocks - like these orchre sea stars (often called starfish but they aren't really fish) and giant green anemones.
The waves were pretty much always crashing in somewhere in the park along Long Beach which is a big draw for all surfer dudes and dudettes. Ron took these photos below at the most popular surfing spot, Incinerator Rock. There the surfers not only have to be careful about the rocks but crashing into each other. We saw several near misses. Between the rain/non-light and the fact that all hiking spots and beach access points gates are locked between 11 pm and 8am it made it pretty much impossible to get a landscape photograph at first light.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More Grebes - Salmon Arm, BC June 10-11

Eventually the road was re-opened to Golden so we drove on down through Glacier Provincial Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park and spent a night in the town of Revelstoke. The next day we moved on to Salmon Arm on Shuswap Lake (the houseboat capital of Canada). There is a major nesting grounds for Western Grebes there in the wetlands along the dock. These birds do a beautiful mating dance. But we were much to late for that but did see an adult feeding its young.