North! To Prince George

Posted on 11th March 2016 in adventure, nature, wandering

I grew up in Prince George, BC. I’ve always described it as the place smack dab in the middle of BC, though it’s the capital of Northern BC. On a map, it’s pretty perfectly in the center. Driving, it’s about 10 hours north of Vancouver.

Driving from Vancouver one first finds the Fraser Valley, then abruptly turn norther into the winding Fraser Canyon that turns into the North Thompson canyon and then connects back up to the Fraser River to follow it more or less all the way up through the Cariboo to the Central Interior and Prince George. On the way back South, we hooked West at Cache Creek to wind our way through to Pemberton and Whistler before getting back to Vancouver.

In the winter the scenery is brown and muddy and very snowy and icy the further north one goes. In the fall you can expect to find every color of the rainbow in the trees that occupy the landscape that spins by. In the spring and summer everything is green and growing and each of the little lakes and creeks along the way call out, inviting you to jump on in.

Being so long of a drive, and one that I’ve done countless times in my life, I’m usually trying to avoid stopping, rather then stopping to take photographs of anything that catches my eye.

Having a foreign friend – Nene – with me, I took all the back roads and detours I knew! She was all smiles, and “ooh” and “ahhh”. Great travel companion!

20151113 - North BC Fraser Canyon Pemberton - Ned Tobin - 6

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Gone Pickin’ Shrooms

Posted on 20th February 2016 in adventure, lifestyle, nature

My brother, Bart, has slowly become more and more passionate about naturalism: listening to the land so it can tell us how to survive off it by gathering and harvesting. Perhaps he’s always been this way.. Anyways, he’s been learning about fungii, spends weeks picking berries and climbing through a natural playground. In short, he’s becoming a wild man.

Naturally, I’ve also picked up some of this interest.

Last autumn, him and I made a trip into the Kootneys to look for chanterelle and lobster mushrooms. It was a trip filled with much philosophizing, introspection, and heated debates confusing the realistic with the ideal. We slept in his camper van with socks on, showered by a splash of ice cold lake water, made tea by a propane stove inside his van, and spent all day walking through the forest on the hunt.

The smart way to cut mushrooms is by using a plastic knife: much less painful when you slip and fall on a plastic knife then your razor sharp hunting cadaver. I wore a compass every day. The number of times I thought I knew the direction I was heading, only to confirm with my compass I was nearly heading the wrong way always blows my mind. I blame it on the slope of the land. When you’re walking on a 30-45deg slope around the base of a mountain for a few hours, it’s hard to orient oneself I guess.

Also, there are thousands of fungii types, and I’m learning I’m horrible (or it’s hopeless) at naming them! I know the Lobsters are right..

20150825 - Monashees Mushroom Picking - Ned Tobin - 1 Click here to read more.. »

Night Signs | Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Posted on 6th December 2015 in adventure, architecture, explored, wandering

Lately I’ve been taking to wandering the streets of Vancouver at night. Part because I’m working pretty hard during the day, and partly because that’s when I find the walk most calming to my mind.

Old signs, new signs, not signs at all. I enjoy capturing landmarks of the Vancouver lower East Side as much as I enjoy capturing the people that walk the streets. Perhaps it’s also a little bit less invasive, and I’m just out to flow.

This particular series of photographs were all taken in one night’s walk: Strathcona, East Side, Gastown, Downtown, Yaletown, and back through Chinatown.

One thing I particularly enjoy about signs is the way that they glow, casting their light upon the surrounding darkness.

I am really quite undecided how I feel about the art of the Sign. When one is in an older city, there are usually a lot less neon signs that were so popularized by the mid 20th century. Then to a Westernized city like, let’s say Vancouver, a city block without a sign feels weird and lonely. On one hand, I really appreciate a great sign that makes sense and was clearly a colossal undertaking. But on the other hand, does this form of advertising need to exist? If you don’t know where you’re going, do you need to be bombarded with this madness?

How do you like the Sign?

Please Dismount Bicycle, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Please Dismount Bicycle, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Posted on 6th October 2015 in adventure, explored, nature, photojournalism, wandering

My brother is a nomad. He has a camper van and he likes to spend most of his time on dirt roads harvesting anything from mushrooms to blueberries. When he’s not tree planting that is.

I’m lucky enough to have him to call up when he’s off work and suggest journeys. He’s usually game without much of a fight, though sometimes I need to lure him with some kind of harvest or natural wonder.

This time we went to Ucluelet and Tofino, nestled deep within the great Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. We only actually went into Tofino once though, most of the time we’d spend in Ucluelet if we were anywhere near a city.

The day we arrived on the West side of Vancouver Island it was pouring rain, and also the final day of tourist season. That night the shorelines erupted with fireworks from the tourist hosts celebrating another season in the sun finished. We didn’t quite realize this was the case, which made finding accommodations rather interesting for us, as the campgrounds were closed. Queue camper van.

We’d spend our mornings trying to decide which beach we would go to, and spent most of our days huddling inside of driftwood barriers and huts some of the locals no doubt built as they waited for the surf to break. For my brother, this was pure bliss. Not a care in the world besides the suspense the author of his book decided to build. I, on the other hand, would find myself wandering as if conducting a science experiment.

Naturally, as I wandered I had my camera.

Ned Tobin - West Coast Tofino Ucluelet - PNW Click here to read more.. »

Sugarbowl Grizzly Den Provincial Park, British Columbia

Posted on 4th July 2015 in adventure, nature

British Columbia’s slogan is ‘Beautiful BC’. I cannot agree more. I’ve explored BC extensively (see all my blog posts tagged with BC here) and continually find BC blows my mind with beautiful variety. From the rainforests of the West Coast to the temperate desert in the Okanagan, from the Rocky Mountains to the Coastals to one of our lakes or rivers or dense wilderness and forests we’re met with at every corner.

Sugarbowl Grizzly Den Provincial Park (see in Google Maps here) is the worlds only inland rainforest located about 95 km East of Prince George, which makes it 800 km from the West Coast. Thankfully, in 2000 a 24,765 hectare region was declared the Sugarbowl Grizzly Den Provincial Park, thus protecting it from the extensive logging in the region. This park has massive 1000 – 2000 year old growth interior cedar-hemlocks, and as the name would suggest, it’s a habitat for grizzlies and many other furry animals and migratory paths.

I have taken the liberty to share with you a UNBC Research Report on the Ancient Forest (a network of hiking trails within Sugarbowl Grizzly Den Provincial Park officially opened in 2006) (see my previous blog on the Ancient Forest here) studying the community and economic benefits of non-timber uses of this inland rainforest, with hopes that it will hopefully encourage you to fight for more of these parks in our beautiful land. See full report PDF here (original PDF source here).

My hike was a pretty interesting one. I had with me a CouchSurfer from Germany I was hosting, who was really keen on seeing a bear. I of course have grown up with bears all my life and recognize not seeing bears while hiking is most definitely a good thing. As we were driving up to the trailhead, we must have seen about 25 evidences (read: skat) of bear, but on the trail we never actually saw any. However, as we drove out after the hike, I think we counted we saw about 15 black bear (including cubs), and 3 moose (all of which we stopped and watched until the sun set).

On the trail, we never actually got to the top of the hike because the trail basically became unrecognizable and nearly un-passable. I had done some research before we went, and did expect an open pasture near the top that we would become lost in, but with about 1 m of snow covering the ground, and very few trail markers along the way, I decided I didn’t want to get lost, we had been hiking for about 3hrs, and we had eaten most of our food so I made the call to turn around.

This is what we saw.

Sugarbowl Grizzly Den Provincial Park Hike - Ned Tobin - British Columbia Click here to read more.. »