Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Princess Royal Island: 

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


7:00am. Quickly finished a breakfast of granola bars, cheese and salami, washed down with yesterday coffee from the thermos. Time to move on. Overall, this would have been a decent campsite if it was not for small black flies and the ground formed by rocks and boulders, with deep holes between waiting to capture my foot or even the whole leg. Hope the next campsite would be better. It was a dry day with the morning fog forming a low cloud in the main body of Laredo Inlet.

Morning Fog, Bay of Plenty

Departed at almost high tide, so I could access Pyne Creek, the main stream flowing into the bay. The waters leading there were very shallow; even now, the bay was full of shallows, and it seemed impassable when I arrived at lower tide, two days earlier. The bay with the estuary at its end looked serene, only jet traces across the sky were reminding that the modern world was not far away.

Pyne Creek Estuary with Jet Traces over the Sky

Pink salmon in large numbers were waiting at the creek entrance, likely for the next strong rain that would swell the creek making it more passable. Small floats of foam, produced by the turbulent waters, congregated in the estuary forming tiny "icebergs".


The tide had started falling and it was time to move out if I did not want to get stranded in the estuary. The day was hot and sunny, making paddling in my water-proof kayaking outfit a bit uncomfortable. Half-way to Mellis Inlet the terrain had started changing, with hilly shores, some quite picturesque, gradually replacing low lands.

 Hills, Laredo Inlet

It was late afternoon when I had entered the inlet. My chart was showing three creeks at the end; however, only one had anything resembling a stream; the remaining two were small and almost dry. Naturally, plenty of salmon were waiting for high water at the main creek. I had tied up my kayak to a sunken chunk of tree and went ashore.

Kayak at Rest, Mellis Inlet

Immediately, I had found headless salmon all over the shore, some quite old, some recently killed. Headless fish is often a trademark of wolves: this was definitely a place to explore.

Headless Salmon: Wolves at Work?

There was no place to camp in the area: the only acceptable site was close to one of the small creeks, about 100m away, as a crow flew. A pile of bear scat on the shore had reminded me to take the usual precautions: storying the food away, not leaving anything smelly in the open. I still had a couple of hours of day light, and I had tried fishing, unsuccessfully. Back to the camp, the tent was up in no time and my dinner of instant rice with canned ham cooked just before the sunset.

Mellis Inlet Sunset

It was 11:30pm when I was finally ready for the night. No VHF reception: I would have to rely on my observations to predict the weather. Also, no no-see-ums inside my not so no-see-um proof tent: I would likely have a restful night. The plan for the next morning was to walk across the almost dry creeks and through the forest to the main creek. The direct distance was short; however, unless I could find an animal trail, the trip would be quite challenging.

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