First Adventure in the Wonderland of Bears, Wolves and Salmon
6. IN QUIGLEY COVE
The rain had
started at night and kept going through the morning. I woke up at
around 7:00am. Switched on my portable short-wave radio, first
time since leaving Victoria. Managed to find a few stations, including
CBC Vancouver. It was good to have access to the news and especially to
an alternative source for weather forecasts: I was not expecting a good
VHF reception once deep inside Laredo Inlet.
had been about 24 hours
since I packed away my camera to dry up. With lots of anticipation, I
got it out, inserted a battery and turned on: nothing happened.
So, that was it: no more video recording
on this expedition. Still not clear what was the cause of this failure;
likely, the moisture, but how did it get inside? Down to two DSLRs:
need to be extra careful from now on.
The rain was still going strong, and I decided against cooking a hot breakfast. Finding dry wood, then
trying to get my stove going in these wet conditions would have
taken too much of my time. I still had a full thermos of warm coffee,
prepared the night before, and I had finished it with biscuits, salami, cheese and a granola bar. The rain had
finally stopped in late morning. but it was still very wet outside, with water
coming down from trees. Still, no more excuses: time to start my explorations!
keeping in mind that one camera was already down, likely due to
moisture, I had to come up with some water-tight protection for my main
camera with a telephoto lens and other electronics that I was planning to
take with me on a walk.
emptying one of my dry bags, I had attached a strap, put my GPS and
VHF radio on the bottom, then the camera, and rolled the top tight.
This I could carry on my side, water-tight yet easy to access in a matter
of a couple of seconds. Although I was wearing a
waterproof kayaking outfit (chest pants with built-in
socks and a
jacket), I still put on top of it a poncho, to cover the red colour of
and provide an additional layer of protection for its thin fabric from
sharp objects in the forest. There was an animal trail through the
forest and soon I was following it helping myself to ripe Salal berries
the way. Some time later, I had reached a sizable creek.
Creek in Quigley Cove
trail continued along the creek, in both directions, up and downstream.
Decided to go up, to check for waterfalls where salmon might be
attracting bears. Found some blueberry bushes on a slope (at least I
believed that these were blueberries). Had eaten a few berries, and
then restrained myself: in a few hours at most, I would know for
these were blueberries or not.
It did not take me long to find a first pile of
bear scat. It was quite old, but at least I knew that a black (or maybe
spirit) bear was using this trail. The only way to know if a spirit
bear was in the area, short of seeing it myself, was to find some hair
on a scratching tree or in a tight area on the trail. After some
searching, I had indeed located a few strands of hair in
different places: they were all black or black and brown. So, it was
likely a black bear with brown patches calling the area home. Still,
I had only explored a small part of this creek, and I kept going. More
black hair on the trail, and then I had found another sign of bear presence: claw marks on a mossy rock.
Bear Claw Marks on a Mossy Rock
had followed the trail further up, finding more bear scat, some
looking quite fresh, and salmon leftovers in the creek: something must
have eaten this fish. At some point, the trail had split into two: one
going away and another following the creek, but
fading fast. I did not see any point in taking the first trail, as I
did not know its destination, and I
continued along the creek. However, the trail had soon disappeared
completely: the only way to keep going was getting into the creek and
then trying to move against the fast running water that was up to
my knees in shallow places, much deeper
elsewhere. I could see large fallen trees ahead, blocking further access up the creek and promising lots of exhausting climbing: better to leave
this for tomorrow.
afternoon was a mix of sun and clouds. I had returned to my camp with
discoveries except seeing salmon jumping in the creek: bears might come
for fishing tomorrow! Although tired and hungry, I had first to take
care of my
laundry -- it would have been a shame not to take advantage of this
Then cooked a double portion of pasta with cheese, one to eat now
and one for dinner. Finished the first portion and then, still
very hungry after all the hiking and exploring, the rest of pasta.
After refilling the thermos with coffee for the next morning, I
could finally enjoy a cup of tea.
Late afternoon and evening were dedicated to studying topo maps of
Laredo Inlet, identifying potential salmon-bearing creeks and camping
areas, and catching up on writing my diary. Getting hungry again,
cooked a large portion of porridge and ate some of it leaving the rest
breakfast. Bugs came out in large
numbers later in a day, and I had to retreat inside the tent to
keep working on my diary. Checked the forecast on the VHF radio: just
overnight -- nothing to be concerned about. Time to sleep.
stay in the cove longer, and explored the creek beyond the trail. About
two hours of climbing over large fallen trees, wading through the fast
running waters of the creek and climbing up the shore in places where
the creek was impassable had exhausted me completely, while the
progress up the creek was measured in just a few hundred metres. No bears.
Photographed salmon jumping over waterfalls; did not get any really good close-up
photos -- the fish was too fast and unpredictable. The following image is a tight crop from a much larger photograph.
Jumping Salmon (tight crop)
interesting bush with read berries: looked quite familiar; however I
was not sure what it was, and decided to leave it alone. Months later,
I had found out that these were likely red huckleberries, edible and rich
in vitamin C.
With no signs of spirit bears in the area, there was no
point in staying here longer: my next destination was Alston Cove,
about 12 km further inside Laredo Inlet. The creek there looked good for salmon on
the topo map, and large tidal areas inside the cove were promising a chance of a decent campsite.
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