did manage to get some sleep in my seat, thanks to earplugs and eye
but it was not very comfortable. Started the day with a large wake-up coffee, then a hearty
breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and sausage, followed by a freshly
baked delicious muffin that I could not finish, leaving for
morning was passed taking pictures, chatting with passengers, and
exploring the ferry.
Ship Bell, Queen of Chilliwack
We stopped at Bella Bella for more than an hour and I had tried photographing
salmon jumping all over the bay, with little success.
Same gentleman who talked to me at Port Hardy had explained that these
were all hatchery salmon. Fry, released from a hatchery up the creek,
had no troubles getting down the stream into the bay. However, the
creek was too
shallow for grown salmon to enter. The fish, determined to spawn, had
been congregating in the bay not being able to get up the creek, giving
local fishermen and residents an opportunity for good repetitive
Hatchery Creek, Bella Bella
ferry had departed Bella Bella, I got engaged in an
discussion with one of the passengers who had made a point that
photographs of nature should never be used to earn money, as nobody was
paying back the Nature
for providing its spectacular scenery and subjects. I had to ruminate
this for a while. Indeed, had the Nature benefited in any way from all
the photographs, paintings and drawings, writings and poems?
a while, I had concluded that good works would help people discover,
admire and protect the Nature, so indeed the Nature would get something
in return, be it an old growth forest saved from the logging, a
majestic animal not shot for a trophy, or an entire area preserved as a
park after its beauty had been so vividly depicted in a photograph or a
story. With this moral dilemma solved, I could concentrate again on
photographing the views that the Nature had offered me along the way.
in Fog near Bella Bella
the lunch time, and drizzling. Chicken with fries, same as last night,
followed by a tea with muffin leftovers made my meal, likely the last
civilized food for five weeks, if everything would go as planned. My
mobile phone and one of camera batteries were getting topped off from a
110V outlet -- again, my last opportunity before switching to a solar
panel and an external backup battery that I had taken with me on this
trip, expecting lots of rain and not much sun.
The ferry arrived to Klemtu around 3:00pm, as scheduled, in by now
persistent drizzle. Disembarked and joined everyone else waiting under
partial protection of a visitor office roof eave for the luggage carts
to arrive. After unloading my luggage, asked a local person who was
with me on the ferry if there was a place where I could camp overnight
in Klemtu. He directed me to a park next to the visitor office: a 5x10m
grass & gravel area already hosting some kayaks and boats.
Another local person had confirmed that I did not need to get a
permission from anyone for camping there; he asked me about my plans.
When I had mentioned kayaking, possibly circumnavigating Princess Royal
Island, weather permitting, he replied that I had chosen a wrong
timing. September was a weather season, he said, and I should get back
on the ferry, while it was still there, and go back home, or they would
end up with another goner. On this note he had ended the conversation.
Not a very encouraging message, however it was something to take very
seriously.... Not to turn back, but to be extra cautious and realistic
about what could and could not be done on this trip. Indeed, all
kayakers I had met so far had already completed their journeys and were
heading back home. However, unlike most of pleasure kayakers, my goal
was to experience and photograph the rainforest at a height of
a salmon run, not to enjoy a pleasant trip. I had plenty of time and a
very flexible plan; it was still a go.
Meanwhile, the ferry was staying in Klemtu for several more hours. This
was a wonderful tradition: the local people could come aboard and enjoy
a meal. There were no restaurants in Klemtu.
Queen of Chilliwack docked in Klemtu
With my will to go on
still as strong as it was before, I had moved my luggage to the park
area and went to the band store, just 50m away. It was Sunday and the
store was closed for customers; however, several people were busy
unloading a truck that arrived on the ferry. They had confirmed that
the store did not carry a bear spray or camping gas canisters, and no-one else in Klemtu did. This had
finally clarified my travel direction: no point heading
counter-clockwise into the grizzly country without a bear spray. In
addition, it was likely going to be cloudy/rainy most of the time, so
no views on spectacular mountains. My path was now certain: clockwise via Meyers Passage and into Laredo Inlet, and then
see how the weather would behave. Another implication was that,
without gas canisters, I would have to rely on my wood stove in all
weather: the trip was going to be much more challenging than I initially hoped.
It was already past 4:00pm. There was no sense in trying to leave this
afternoon: I would have needed several hours to get my kayak ready for
a departure. According to the guidebook, the closest campsite was at
least a couple of paddling hours away. I was not keen on navigating
unfamiliar waters in dark. I had pitched my tent covering it and all my
luggage with a large tarp, and used a pause in the drizzle to
explore the harbour. First, I needed to find a good place to launch my
kayak tomorrow. Soon, I had located a suitable area, covered with fish
Discarded Halibut, Klemtu
Discarded Salmon, Klemtu
Fresh large chunks of
halibut and salmon carcases were scattered all over the area. It was
interesting that only choice pieces had been removed from the fish.
Lots of meat was still there. I had learned later that leaving the fish
on the shore was an offering to the wildlife to come and share the
bounty. Indeed, a couple of ravens were already busy working on halibut.
Ravens with Discarded Halibut, Klemtu
With the launch area located, I headed along the shore to a nearby
pier, to get a better view and photograph salmon jumping all over the
Jumping Salmon, Klemtu
On the pier, I had found two young men fishing. One was unsuccessful --
he had offered me his fishing gear to try. Had to decline -- I wanted
to photograph. Another fisherman had had more luck and a bucket full of
dog salmon to prove it.
Catch of Klemtu Fisherman
It was time for
the ferry to depart. Despite my bravado, I had mixed feelings:
would the warning I got earlier turn into a prophesy? Bad thoughts
aside, I had photographed the ferry sailing away, past the First
Nation's Big House.
Queen of Chilliwack Leaving Klemtu
Back to my camp for a
dinner: a bagel with cheese, and an apple. Then, at the visitor office,
I had filled my water bottles with 20 litres of potable water: this was
as much as I could fit in my kayak, considering that I was also
starting with five weeks of food. It was getting dark: time to
go to bed; I had set my alarm for 5:00am.
Overnighting in Klemtu