Southern Vancouver Island the Long Way

Posted on 3rd April 2016 in adventure, nature, wandering

Last fall my Swiss friend Nene came to Canada. I offered my truck (and company) to tour her around BC so she could get to see this beautiful land the way that I see it, and the places that I know and am fond of in this land. Canadian pride I guess. The first leg of our journey took us North! To Prince George. The second leg we hopped on the ferry over to Vancouver Island where we did day trips from Shawnigan Lake and toured mostly the southern tip of the island – Victoria and up the West Coast of the island to Port Renfrew.

Our trip to Port Renfrew, we thought we were just taking a left and heading through some gravel roads and couldn’t get lost and make it to Port Renfrew – easy peasy. About 3 hours later we found ourselves in Sooke. From Shawnigan Lake, it should only take about 1hr to get to Sooke. Likewise, it should only take about 1.5hrs to get to Port Renfrew, so obviously we took the long, windy road to get there!

Our road took us on a series of logging roads, cut blocks, and dense forest. It was interesting to see deep inside the belly of the beast (the Canadian wilderness), but to be honest, the West Coast is just so wild and epic every single time I stand upon her shores, so I was kind of sad that our day along the coast was delayed in the backroads.

But, such is life.

As we made our way up the highway parallel to the Juan de Fuca trail network, we made a vow to stop at every single Provincial Park we came to.

This is what we saw.

Logging roads of Vancouver Island Click here to read more.. »

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

Click here to read more.. »

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.. »

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.. »