Fresh on the heels of a wonderful trip to the subarctic to photograph tundra colours, northern lights and the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd in Nunavut (my wife and I got back late last night), I’m at home for just two more days before my next fall trip, my Spirit Bear Photo Tour to the Great Bear Rainforest.
In the meantime, some news for those of you following along on the blog to get you up-to-date on summer happenings and what’s in store for the rest of 2014 and 2015, along with the story of a dramatic bear rescue near Golden, BC on Thursday.
I did two test trips this summer to new locations in the hopes of starting up photo tours to them for Summer 2015. The first was to Somerset Island in the arctic at 74 degrees north (!!), almost 800 kilometers above the arctic circle. The trip was designed to coincide with the arrival of thousands of beluga whales in the inlet next to our lodge, but unfortunately the pack ice was a week late this year and we did not get to see even a single beluga. Fortunately, though, the island was packed with all kinds of other interesting flora and fauna which we focused on in the 24 hours of daylight, including muskox, arctic hare, arctic fox (we had a den with 13 pups in it!), and snowy owls.
|The vast landscapes of Somerset Island in the high arctic are home to hundreds of muskox|
The trip was loved by everyone in my group and I’ve already begun arranging two dates for next summer (though slightly later in July and at the start of August to make sure we also catch the belugas). If this kind of trip interests you and you’re fit and willing to raft, ride atvs, and hike 6-10 kilometers a day with your gear, then please go indicate your interest in next year’s trips over on my tour website’s contact form and I’ll then keep you posted on 2015 trip itinerary, dates, and costs when they come available. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go with a small photo group to the high arctic and I wouldn’t be going back if I didn’t think it was worth the time and money!
Following the arctic trip, I whizzed off to Smithers, BC with the two winners of my fundraising contest for the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter. Noriko Hessmann and Katie Mooney from Edmonton, Alberta were the lucky winners, and they were treated to quite a show at the shelter. They got to bottle-feed a baby deer, play with two baby beavers, watch a feeding of six baby black bears (from a hidden location so the bears couldn’t see them) and a grizzly bear cub, and take part in the wild release of a flock of ducks and four baby foxes. It was quite the whirlwind weekend, and for those of you that fly with Central Mountain Air or Hawkair in British Columbia, you’ll get to read all about it in the Northern Routes in-flight magazine this fall.
|Noriko Hessmann feeding Brock, a baby deer being rehabilitated at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter|
In early August I headed back to Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) for my fifth landscape photography workshop in the Purcell Mountains south of Golden, BC. Once again it was sold out and once again, we visited areas that had my mouth agape in wonder. It truly is one of the most spectacular wild areas in British Columbia and if you feel like being whisked around in a helicopter like a rock star so you can take photos from this ridge and that one, then stay tuned for details on next year’s workshop in the coming weeks.
|My 2014 photo group at CMH in front of some of the ugly scenery in the area|
Shortly after I got back from CMH, I got a call from Angelika at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, BC asking me if I’d like to be involved in the release of a grizzly cub called Littlefoot back into the wild. Angelika and the International Fund for Animal Welfare needed someone to take photographs and video of the release for national and international media, so I hired my buddy Hendrik Boesch and we traveled deep into the wilderness north of Fernie, BC with two Conservation Officers and the NLWS crew to release this 145-pound yearling back into the wild. It was the highlight of my year to date, which says a lot considering that I’ve been to the arctic twice already! And as usual, I simply can’t say enough good things about the shelter, which continues to be the only grizzly bear rehabilitation center on the planet. Littlefoot was the 13th grizzly bear cub they’ve released back into the wild since they started with grizzlies in 2007. If you’ve got a few dollars to spare, there isn’t a better wildlife cause to give your money to — you can donate here.
|Taking part in Littlefoot’s release back into the wild was a highlight of the year so far!|
Here’s a superb video that CTV News put together about Littlefoot’s release using my video footage. And here’s a great blog entry from IFAW staff about the release along with another video using my footage from the day.
Speaking of the NLWS and their fabulous work, check out the amazing day my friend and NLWS volunteer Wendy Chambers had on Thursday, September 4th when she was an integral part of a dramatic bear rescue near Golden, BC after a mother black bear was hit and killed on the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s a gripping read and again, if you want to help out with raising these cubs for their release back into the wild next spring, then please go visit the NLWS website and donate.
After the excitement of Littlefoot’s release, I did an abrupt 180 and found myself sitting poolside in Las Vegas with my wife sipping (ok, maybe chugging would be a better word) margaritas less than 24 hours after I’d been deep in the British Columbia wilderness.
This 5-day test of my liver for a friend’s 40th birthday party did little to prepare my wife and I for another quick turnaround from Vegas to the vast and extremely remote tundra we found ourselves in at Ennadai Lake in Nunavut last week for another test photo tour with clients in search of the aurora borealis and migrating caribou. The trip also proved to be a huge success, so again, if this kind of arctic trip interests you and you’re fit and willing to hike 2-4 kilometers a day with your gear (this trip doesn’t have as much hiking as the Somerset trip, but it still does require a good level of fitness), then please go indicate your interest in next year’s trips over on my tour website’s contact form and I’ll then keep you posted on the 2015 trip itinerary, dates, and costs once everything has been finalized.
|A giant caribou bull checks us out on Day 5 of my early fall arctic adventure (last week) to Nunavut|
The coming weeks promise to be just as frantic as this summer has been, as I’m off on Tuesday for spirit bears, followed by two weeks of grizzlies in the Chilcotin right after that. Then it’s off to Winnipeg for two days to press check my third printing of my Banff & Lake Louise book, followed by a landscape photography workshop with my pals Dave Brosha and Paul Zizka in Lake Louise from October 16th-18th, then a wildlife photography workshop in Whitehorse from October 24th-26th. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, haha!
Thanks everyone for following along, please let me know if you have any topics you’d like to see me cover on my blog in the coming months.
And for those of you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, please be sure to follow me on those social media platforms to get photo updates and news tidbits on a regular basis (I post to Facebook 2-3x a week, to Twitter 3-4x a day, and to Instagram 1-2x a day):