Road Trip (4): Wolves

My visit to the wolves this morning was the primary reason for this trip, and I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of months now. The centre has 6 wolves, all of which were bred in captivity, and are part of a wolf education program. Each day, one or two wolves are taken out for exercise, and it is possible for a number of people to join in on these walks.

I was very lucky, expecting to be part of a group of 5 or so people, I turned up this morning to find that I was the only person signed up. It was just me, Casey (the owner), Maya (the wolf) and Jackson (a Karelian Bear Dog).

We drove up about 10 minutes into the Blaeberry valley, where we parked the trucks and headed up into the woods. We walked for about 1 1/2 hours, enjoying the sun and watching Maya. She was fairly shy, but did come up and give my hand a lick. Of course, as well as watching and chatting with Casey, I was also busy with the camera (despite the full backpack, I used the 5D with the 70-200mm the whole time), trying to get some good portraits and action shots.

From a photographic point of view it was quite challenging – firstly, focusing on a wolf which is moving towards you is a difficult, and a number of potential shots were not focused. The light coming through the trees was also very variable, so it was sometime difficult to expose well. I haven’t yet had time to go through the full collection of photos, and the laptop is grinding to a bit of a halt. More photos will follow later on the website.

The experience was fantastic, and one I’d gladly repeat.

Road Trip (3): Chase – Golden

We were both up bright and early this morning, which gave us enough time to have a little bit of a drive before heading back to Salmon Arm for coffee with cousin Sandi. I was hoping to find a nice spot in Chase where we could view Lake Shuswap, but we were stopped by road works. In the end, we found a nice road running parallel to the lake, which gave a nice alternate route to the highway, and a chance to take a couple photos of the lake.

We spent about an hour at Sandi’s and then headed off back to the Highway for the trip up to Golden. As we rose higher into the mountains, the clouds were looking ominous and we hit a number of patches of light rain and snow. The signs saying “wear winter tires or carry chains until end-April” didn’t make me feel too confident, so I kept my finger crossed on the steering wheel that the snow wouldn’t get heavier.

Fortunately, the weather stayed fairly mild, and we approached Golden around 4pm Mountain Time (clocks forward 1 hour as we’d left Pacific Time). Since we had plenty of time, I decided to stop and investigate the Wolf Discovery Centre, where I will be going for a walk with a couple of the wolves tomorrow. We took a look around the centre, and were given an interesting, and rather depressing, talk about the wolves and their future. The comparison with Yellowstone National Park, and studies into the role of wolves in the ecosystem was particularly interesting. Looking in from the outside as a European, the large wildlife are one of the most alluring aspects of Canada, and yet these animals aren’t as well protected as we might hope. Far from being a thing of the past, wolves are still hunted outside of the National Park boundaries (the only place they are protected), and of course road accidents also kill a large number of wildlife each year. In the wild, only 5% of wolves die from natural causes.

Road Trip (2): New Westminster – Chase

Our first day on the road passed fairly uneventfully. As usual, the traffic was rather heavy until we passed Abbotsford, and then quietened down. It was strange to drive straight past the Vedder without stopping, and from that point on we were in less familiar territory.

We had a choice of two routes, and I had planned to take the Fraser Canyon, which is rather more picturesque. As it happened, we must have missed the turn off, because we ended up on The Coquihalla without realised quite how it had happened. I remember 14 years ago that the Coquihalla route was being touted as the latest greatest thing, but its now in rather bad repair. Whilst the scenery is still nice, it’s not a patch on the Fraser Canyon route, and roadworks made it a bit of a sluggish haul. The weather was variable, sunny when we left, but with some scattered patches of snow and rain in the higher altitudes.

Another strange thing about the Coquihalla route was the total lack of rest areas. We had planned to stop for our picnic, but in the event, never found a good place until we reached Chase itself, 5 minutes from our motel! A bonus at the picnic site was a chance spotting of a Northern Flicker, and I managed to get a couple shots as the bird flew in and out of hole in a tree trunk – a nice first opportunity to test the new camera. They’re not perfectly sharp – hand holding the 100-400mm, but still given how small the bird is on the frame, not too bad, and a nice sequence. (The image shown here is cropped substantially from the original)

Once in the motel (situated bang on the highway, but comfortable enough) I downloaded the photos, and realised that I still had some set up work to do – setting the camera date, setting the picture type (default was JPG), etc.

After 30 minute to settle ourselves into the motel, we got back into the car, and headed 50km up the road to Salmon Arm, to have dinner with Cousin Sandi (my grandfather’s brother’s daughter – glad to finally have that straight in my head) and her family. As luck would have it, both of Sandi and Al’s children were visiting, along with their 4 grandchildren, so I had the chance to meet a number of relatives for the first time. Driving back to Chase after the meal was a little tiring – plenty of traffic, surprisingly, and some rain – not a great combination on mountain roads at night. Back at the motel, Grandmere and I both crashed out pretty quickly, and slept like logs.

RoadTrip (1)

How many people have a 102 year old (ok, technically 101 for another couple weeks) grandmother who is up for a road trip? Not too many, I guess. I consider myself lucky.

When I arrived last night she told me that the gin and the cans of tonic were packed, and that she was making corned beef hash sandwiches for lunch. The sandwiches, apparently, have been planned for some days now. Her instinct to feed the troups clearly remains intact! (Indeed, she was shocked at breakfast this morning that not only would I be quite happy with cereal, rather than bacon and eggs or pancakes, but also that I considered a single-portion box of Rice Crispies quite sufficient).

It’s time to pack up the Behemoth and get on the road for our first leg – up to Chase, on Little Shushwap Lake.


A busy week, and it ended up with an all-night assignment-writing/packing stint. Despite all my panicking, I made it to Schiphol with plenty of time, albeit in a rather spaced-out state, and managed to get myself onto the plane, one Anna Pavlova, MD11, whose interior was rather flashier looking than I remember her counterparts Mother Theresa & Ingrid Bergman being. Lucky enough to have a free seat next to me, I spent most of the flight asleep (virtually unheard of), and arrived in Vancouver in decent enough shape. I picked up a Behemoth from Hertz (it was supposed to be a compact, but I ended up with a choice between an SUV and a minivan), and drove to Grandmere’s where I was greated with a very welcome G & T.

Oh yes, how could I forget the most important part of all? I also picked up my new camera – a Canon 5D Mk II. Looking forward to trying it out during the trip.