Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Photography and Kayaking in the Bunsby Islands

After a successful adventure in the Jervis Inlet in 2017 with dear friends Lynn Fox and Eric Faucher, they had an interest in 2018 in returning to the Bunsby Islands, located on the northwest side of Vancouver Island near the Brooks Peninsula, British Columbia, Canada.

Remote locations are something that promise beauty and a certain amount of vulnerability to the elements and other unknowns. Traveling with experienced friends helps in innumerable ways. It's enjoyable and relaxing to feel like you are tagging along to an area that is new to you but well known to them.

Lynn and Eric with a friend
Getting to the Bunsby Islands is quite a trek from Portland, Oregon. Making the travel more pleasant is the extensive ferry services in the U.S. and in British Columbia. Avoidance of the densely populated areas of Tacoma/Seattle makes a better and more interesting experience and extends the time spent on and near the water. The drive up the west side of Hood Canal and then ferry over to Whidbey Island, with just 40 miles of freeway over the border to Tsawwassen, BC is ideal.

Sunset at Deception Pass, Washington
I met Lynn and Eric in Campbell River. We traveled north towards Port Hardy then west on a very challenging logging road across Vancouver Island to Fair Harbour. Lingering smoke and a few firefighters were around from lightning fires right along the road. We met our water taxi host, Leo Jack, a Kyuquot tribal member with a lot of experience and many stories to share. He transported us past his village, weaving around islands and sea otters to Barney Island in the Bunsbys.

Morning transport with our Water Taxi Host Leo Jack
Barney Island is such a great location we thought we would stay for a few days and use it as a base camp for exploration. The air has a fresh, almost perfumed, cedar like scent. One night we were awoken at 4:30a by the sound of wolves howling back and forth right in our camp area. I got up to take a look with a bright, waning gibbous moon surrounded by a giant, mysterious looking ring.  I didn't see them, but it's possible they saw me.

A rainy day, deep in the wilds of an inlet
Sea Otter resting-and watching me-very attentively
Sunset on Barney Island
Our next camp was closer to open ocean, with clear turquoise water, a beautiful small sand beach, with the occasional otter floating by. We were alone in this most quiet and peaceful place.

Idyllic campsite with sand and driftwood

One of the best photography days started early with a beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise over Vancouver Island
 We also had remarkably calm conditions on the open ocean to photograph a very interesting islet with beautiful kelp, clouds, rocks and the wind and sea battered trees. We circumnavigated this islet for various angles and interesting compositions.

Islet with Bull Kelp, from the west

An Otter's view of this lovely Bull Kelp

Islet with Kelp and Spruce Trees,  from the north
Photographic success was also complimented by fishing success, with Eric catching some nice cod for dinner.

 That evening we were entertained by a quite spectacular view of the Milky Way, with bright Mars in the south.
Milky Way and Mars from our campsite beach
With a threatening forecast, we needed to head somewhere more protected, so we circuitously returned to Barney Island. Saw some bear scat on the north part of the island, but no bears.

One can expect to have any kind of weather here, and we did have a bit of everything, with many fair and pleasant days. Storms were moving in, so we had to hunker down. Sure enough, the wind and rain made an appearance, and it was time to retreat. Leo found a small window between storms and came to get us and return us safely to Vancouver Island.



Although the Bunsbys were spectacular in many respects, there were not many sea birds. Another area that contains fond memories over many years is the Puget Sound and San Juan Island region of Washington. After camping at Larabee State Park on my way home from the Bunsbys, I made a morning stop on the Lummi Reservation just west of Bellingham to dry out some gear and look for bird photography possibilities. One memory is having my first NW oysters here, gathered on Portage Island in 1977 after moving from Wisconsin in 1975.

Comical Black Oystercatchers near Lummi Island, San Juan Islands.

A collection of photographs may be seen here>