Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Princess Royal Island: 

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


The night did not pass well: had very little sleep due to the pain. Still, got up soon after 6:00am. It was a complete calm outside and fog, everything was covered with fog. After a quick breakfast of two granola bars with coffee I packed up my camp. The cove had provided me with a good refuge from the storm; however, after four days I got tired of being in the same place. Found an almost dead salmon in the shallow tidal zone. I had touched it – no movement. Still, a few minutes later the fish was splashing, then even half-jumped, then stopped again. It is always sad to see a dying animal. I hoped that at least this one had spawned. In any case, its body would be soon recycled and reincarnated as trees, fish, birds and maybe even mammals.

Heavy fog was still clogging the cove; however, I could not wait any longer: it was almost high tide and I did not want to end up fighting against tidal currents. Started crossing to the opposite shore in almost zero visibility. The only way to avoid circling was keeping my eyes on the compass all the time, with the course due West.

Crossing in Fog

Finally, I could recognize a dark mass of the opposite shore ahead. Came close to Hards Creek that was emptying into a picturesque bay with beautiful islets. Saw only one salmon: likely, not a very active spawning stream. Soon after the crossing, the fog started thinning and the shore ahead became visible. Less than an hour later the fog was gone, the sun out and the inlet shining in its glory.

Sunny Day, Laredo Inlet

On my way passed Busey Creek – a very powerful stream with no place to camp, not even a spot to safely exit my kayak and step on the shore. The guidebook-recommended campsite in this area was in Weld Cove. However, Nanaimo Paddlers had failed to find it just a couple of months earlier. Although I was skeptical that I would be more successful, I had decided to give it a try. Sure enough, no flat high grounds as far as I could see. If I was really pressed to, I could have probably find a small flat patch of grass, hopefully above the current high tide. I still had quite a few hours before the sunset, and I moved on. The chart was showing a passage between Pocock Island and Princess Royal Island that could save me 45 min of paddling, maybe more. The guidebook had warned, however, that the passage did not exist. To my frustration, the guidebook was right this time, and so I had to retrace my steps, fighting against the wind and losing nearly an hour!

More paddling, and I was finally inside Bay of Plenty. The guidebook had mentioned an established campsite inside this bay. However, after the earlier unsuccessful attempt to locate Weld Cove campsite I got a bit suspicious and decided to choose a place on my own. I had found it on the North shore, near Tyler Creek -- a leveled patch of ground higher up in the forested area. The site needed some cleaning before pitching the tent, mainly removing small rocks covering the ground.

5:00pm, and the sun was still shining, although some clouds very already covering the sky. Sank my dirty clothes inside a net bag in a deep place in a small but powerful creek nearby, for self-washing by the current. Hung everything else to dry, and I mean everything – all my stuff was damp after the storm. Macaroni & cheese for dinner, followed by a couple of cups of tea. 9:30pm – time to get my clothes from the creek and hang overnight. Stored all food in a separate area away from my tent, hopefully above high tide. Pitched the tent already in the full darkness. Listened to the forecast: a chance of showers overnight. My own observations were also hinting that rain was possible. The sun had set in a cloud stretched along the horizon, then the clouds had move in covering the sky. Got out of my tent and covered it with a tarp, just in case. In bed by 11:00pm, ready to sleep, and no more pain that kept me awake the night before!

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