Cape Scott

A few days ago I finally completed my write-up of our 6-day trip to Cape Scott, already a year ago now! Although I’d published the summary post soon after returning home, it took months for us to sift through all the photos and for me to rediscover our notes to help me write up each day on the trip.

Looking back on a trip it’s sometimes hard to remember just how it made you feel, and when you do remember, was it just euphoria talking or was it really as good a trip as your words say? I quote my opening line: “Wow! I don’t remember the last time a hike so clearly won me over.” And instantly I’m transported back to those big open beaches, the dense forest, and the sense of wilderness.

I think what contributed to how we felt about this trip was the fact that we weren’t expecting to be wowed in the way that spectacular mountain scenes do. The beauty of the place crept up on us and was just there for us to experience. The rest was up to us to be open to that.

If you haven’t done any coastal hiking, then I highly recommend Cape Scott. I would also suggest that you wait for a good weather window, though that is tricky given the logistics of getting there. But it’s worth it. Who can resist such idyllic beach camping?

Nissen Bight, 4 Aug 2016

Looks tropical

Throwback Thursday to this time last year when we were enjoying sun, sea, and sand at Nissen Bight on the second of six days at Cape Scott. I finally got round to finish writing about the trip too – link below.

It has taken me ages to finish writing about the Cape Scott trip! Part of that was due to the fact that our note-taking tapered off after the first few days so I had less information to jog my memory when it came to the little things. Also if I didn’t insist on trying to essentially reconstruct each day then I could have written a much shorter series of blog posts and presumably finished a lot sooner. I think it would be a good exercise to try and condense it into something a bit more readable (say for The Outbound) but that would take time away from writing up all the other trips we’ve done that are merely drafts!

If you would like to read the whole thing (all six days’ worth), then start with my overview post, and read the entry for each day linked from there. (Each day also provides a link to the next one so either way it’s possible to read the entire diary. I’ve included photos linked to Flickr within each day, but we took way to many to include them all so there are also links to the complete album of over 300 photos (as well as a Top 140) on Flickr.

Anyway, about the photo itself. The sun came out, the polarizer went on, and the sea turned a tropical colour. We could almost have believed it ourselves had we not first-hand experience of the temperature of the water. Decidedly not tropical!

Long blues

Long exposure at the blue hour.

I’ve always loved long exposure photographs. The first time I really remember being aware of the concept was when I saw a documentary about a photographer who used pinhole cameras to take hours-long exposures of popular city locations to reveal scenes devoid of people. I thought it was amazing. Since then I’ve seen other similar examples (plus I’ve seen how to mimic this in post-processing), but the most common subject for long-exposure photography is water; the ocean, a lake, a river, or waterfall. I don’t habitually carry a tripod around with me, which means I’m usually limited in my exposures to what I can take hand-held, and I’ve got quite good at holding a camera steady for up to 1/4 second.

But to get those glassy ocean shots needs much longer exposures and, therefore, a tripod (plus a neutral density filter – which I lack). My GorillaPod is proving to be too wobbly for the kinds of photos I’m after, so I made use of a number of logs on the beach to experiment with exposures of up to about 8 seconds. It took a few shots (owing to the fact that none of the logs were level), but I finally got one I liked. And somehow I felt it looked better when I kept the blue tint rather than using a more realistic colour balance. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.

Disappearing act

First visit to Englishman River Falls – having seen many photos on Instagram, it was nice to see them in person. Lots of starflower and salal in bloom, some wild strawberry and vanilla leaf too. Also found some pink wintergreen and my first ever Vancouver groundcone, aka poque.

I knew that capturing this waterfall was going to be difficult. Like many waterfalls, the scale is hard to represent effectively in photographs so I decided to just go with the flow (ha ha – geddit?) and be content with the same shot as everyone else. Now I know the scale, I’m quite happy with it. It would be tricky to get a nice long exposure of these falls because the bridge wobbles when walked on. I’d have to get here early in the morning to have the place to myself to avoid that. That’s for some other time. We were lucky enough with our timing as the sun emerged from behind the clouds a few minutes later.

The short loop trail connecting the falls was well worth doing, passing through some pleasant forest (with signs of fawn lilies in a few places to pique my interest). The water level had dropped since the first rush of spring snowmelt so the lower falls weren’t really evident. I was surprised and impressed with the deep, ruler-straight canyon connecting the falls – it’s quite a spectacular feature. The warning signs have it right!

Tetrahedron light

Last light on the peaks of Tetrahedron provincial park: Mt Steele, Tetrahedron, and Panther Peak (L to R).

After my miserable failure at attempting to catch the glorious full moonrise on Friday night, thanks to our 55-200 mm lens deciding that it wasn’t going to focus properly, I borrowed our friends’ 70-300 mm lens for sunset the following night. (I also used a log for a rest rather than the GorillaPod which was too wobbly with the heavier lens on the camera.) I was pleasantly surprised (maybe even a little disappointed) to find that there was nothing wrong with the camera, and the lens focused near perfectly.

I had a good idea about which mountains we were seeing across the water, but it was only zooming in that I could make out the familiar pyramidal shape of Tetrahedron’s namesake peak. Knowing that, it was easy to identify the neighbouring peaks, and marvel at the fact we’ve stood atop one of them (Mt Steele). The light was a lovely warm glow, even lighting up the texture in the forested slopes below, making for an irresistible shot.

Sand dollars galore

Chasing sand dollars on a morning run along the beach – nice to find a few live ones. I found the tiniest of sand dollar shells, barely the size of my little finger nail, but it crumbled the moment I picked it up. Running barefoot on a sandy beach feels good too! πŸ™‚ πŸƒπŸ‘£

Quite by chance, our return to Parksville for a long weekend on the beach coincided with a full moon, revealing literally miles of beach to explore at low tide. While the others were at the pool, I decided to head out for a run on the exposed – and ripply – sand (which, by the way, is nowhere near as soft on your bare feet as might be expected). The tide was still receding, and I chased it out almost to the water’s edge, discovering tidal pools with stranded, living sand dollars. I snapped a few photos (such as the one above) and continued on my way.

Returning later with Maria, we discovered dozens and dozens more living sand dollars. Many were stranded upside-down on the sand, which we carefully righted them so they could burrow away to safety. It was such a fun experience finding so many, and I even had the chance to take a video clip of one pushing its way under the sand. Very cool! I don’t know how we can beat that for a sand dollar experience! πŸ™‚

A bear walks into a bar…

Waiting for service… Flashback Friday to May 2007 and a road trip to Port Renfrew, where we rounded a bend and spotted this bear wandering along the shoulder. He (?) stopped to check us out, placed his paws on the barrier as if waiting for a drink, before getting up onto the barrier and walking along it for a moment until startled back into the forest by the next car.

We’d just bought our shiny new compact superzoom Canon S3IS and I was more than happy to make use of the long zoom to get this photo. Sadly, once I got home and looked at the photos on our computer monitor, this photo also alerted me to how bad the colour fringing was on high-contrast edges (look at the edge of the road for an example – and that’s after a bit of processing). A lot of it can be taken out with “purple fringing” corrections, but it’s hard to get rid of all of it. Sure, I’d read the reviews that mentioned this aberration, and figured I could live with it. Looking back, that was really the time we should have gone straight to buying an SLR, instead of making-do with the inferior compact camera image quality.

But, having said all that, I still really like this and the other photos I took at the time. It’s quite the memory, and possibly our most fun bear encounter.