Mark Jinks Photography: Blog https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Mark Jinks Photography markjinksphotography@gmail.com (Mark Jinks Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:31:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:31:00 GMT https://www.markjinksphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u1000794694-o79077384-50.jpg Mark Jinks Photography: Blog https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog 80 120 A Northern Jewel - Blachford Lake Lodge https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2020/1/a-northern-jewel---blachford-lake-lodge  

The SelectionThe Relection

Northern Lights reflecting in the calm waters around the lodge

 

  100 kilometres East of Yellowknife, NT, lays a Jewel of The North - Blachford lake Lodge. An eco-friendly getaway, literally in the middle of nowhere. There are no roads in, no tour buses, not even any commercial planes flying overhead from what I can remember. The only sound is the breeze, and perhaps a distant sound of wolves howling if you're lucky. This was absolutely the quietest place I had ever experienced.


I chose to visit here in the fall of 2019, specifically in mid September, when the bugs have retreated from the first frost, but before the lakes have started to freeze over, and at a time when the Aurora Borealis is historically most active - around the Autumn equinox - more on that later. There would be an equal 12 hours of daylight and darkness, leading to decent sunrise and sunset times, with lots of potential for northern lights.

 

The Bush PlaneThe Bush Plane  The float plane (or bush plane) ready to take us on the 20 minute journey to Blachford Lake

The journey starts in Yellowknife at the Air Tindi floatplane base. Anticipation builds as you are briefed on safety. The planes engines fire up, and before long you are skimming across the water of Great Slave Lake and then up, up, and away, a 20 minute flight over the dotted landscape of the Canadian Shield filled with little lakes, patches of boreal forest, and rock. Lots of rock. You may even catch a glimpse of a moose or black bear down below. Before you know it, you are coming in for a landing on Blachford Lake. It was my first time on a floatplane, and I wasn't sure what to expect for a landing. I braced myself for the worst, but the landing was smooth as butter, and hardly felt it.

 

The staff at the lodge are already waiting for you, and start unloading the luggage, hauling it up the hill on an ATV towing a wagon. You make your way up to the main lodge, admiring the view as the floatplane starts to load the group that is leaving the lodge that day. As you go inside, you are greeted by more staff and a beautiful interior adorned with all sorts of conversation pieces, a library, two large fireplaces, tables and chairs, and a bar, almost like a little restaurant. Your luggage has already been transported to your room (upstairs, or cabin if you're staying in one of those). Lunch is served, and after an orientation session and quick tour around to the various amenities around the site, you are on your own to explore.

 

The Dining AreaThe Dining Area

view of the dining area in the main lodge

The amenities and activities on site to do are a lengthy list, and include; a hot tub, sauna, authentic Dene tipi (or teepee), boat docks with canoes, kayaks and motorboats, dozens of kilometres of maintained hiking trails, fishing, and much more! The staff are always more than willing to take you out and guide you on a hike, boat ride, or build a fire for you at one of the locations around the site. If you are more inclined to just relax around the lodge, there are plenty of crafts, games, and books to read. The staff has scheduled sessions showing you how to make spruce salve balm, dreamcatchers, and more.

 

Being so remote, lots of wildlife can be seen in the area. We saw black bears, moose, squirrels, all sorts of birds, and even a resident pine marten. Other wildlife that can be seen here include lynx, wolves, foxes, beaver and muskrats. There are no grizzly or polar bears in this area. However, it is recommended you bring bear deterrents while hiking, such as air horns or pepper spray (which are available for use at the lodge) but the best advice is just to make noise and travel in groups. 

 

The Pine MartenThe Pine Martenmarkjinksphotography.com

A pine marten that was hanging around the lodge during our stay

The main attraction of course, is the northern lights or Aurora Borealis. Visitors come here from all over the world as this area is directly under the auroral oval, and in a rain shadow climate, meaning historically less precipitation and clouds. The lodge closes during the ice freeze-up between Oct and Dec, and again in April - July when the spring melt comes. Statistically, there is a 95% chance of seeing the northern lights at least one night during a three night stay here.

The Hot TubThe Hot Tub

The hot tub in front of the lodge with northern lights overhead

The northern lights go through an 11 year cycle of a maximum and minimum, and even though we are in the minimum right now, the northern latitude of the lodges location give the added advantage of not needing a particularly strong solar event to see the lights. I chose to go in mid September as there is an increased chance of aurora activity due to the Russell-McPherron Effect which is essentially cracks in the Earth's magnetic field at that time of year. We ultimately had aurora on 3 nights out of 4, though we did have a bit of cloud cover due to a rare storm (for this time of year) moving in from the Pacific. Regardless, it was magical. Visitors let out yelps and screams of delight when the lights appeared. If you happen to fall asleep early before the lights are visible, not to worry, one staff member remains on watch for the graveyard shift, and will physically go around to each cabin and room to wake people when the lights are active if you have requested it.

 

The LodgeThe Lodge

Lights above the main lodge

 

 

 From a photography aspect, Blachford Lake Lodge is an absolute dream. With a trifecta of; landscapes, wildlife, and northern lights, there is no shortage of nature subjects to shoot. I fell in love with the nature here, and wanting to get back as soon as I could, I decided to expand my photography tours here in 2020, as I believe this is a place that any photographer would love staying at. As part of my workshop, I offer some assistance and advice for both in-field shooting settings, use of external lighting and compositions, and post processing over a 3 night/4 day stay. More details on my tour down at the bottom of this page.

The IslandThe Island

Blachford Lake and its beautiful glacial water

 

For the shot below of the cabin, I used two different light sources. A Lumecube low level lighting panel to softly light the foreground details, and the cabin's natural lighting. All it took was a little patience to wait for the aurora at the opportune time. 

Bonus - use promo code MARK10 for a discount on any LumeCube products at the link above.

 

Cabin GlowCabin Glow

The aurora above one of the cabins on site

 

Finding compositions on the fly can often be one of the most challenging things for night photography. You don't really know where in the sky the aurora will appear at any given time, so having time to setup and dial in your settings can be quite limited. It's a good idea to scope out some places during the daylight and note them for later in the evening. As each night passes, you become more familiar with the area which helps too. For the shot below, the Tipi had some string lights inside already from a wedding the previous weekend. I liked the silhouette of the axe, woodpile and moose antlers, and got lucky with some unique aurora pillars here intersecting with the Milky Way galaxy. We also had a fire lit inside which we were using to keep warm, which also helped light the scene. I've included a photo of the inside of the Tipi as well below, of some fine folk from all over the continent who were part of this group.


The Tipi at nightThe Tipi at night

The Tipi lit by a fire with some northern lights and milky way overhead

 

Inside the TipiInside the Tipi

A look inside the Tipi

 

 

The Point CabinThe Point Cabin

The Point Cabin

The cabins themselves are quite photogenic as well, especially with the fall colours. Whether you are a photographer or not, there is an endless supply of photo compositions and beautiful views around the lodge.

 

Autumn coloursAutumn colours

Autumn colours in front of the Old Trappers Cabin

 

I really enjoyed my time at the lodge. It was by far the most peaceful place I have ever visited, the quiet and solitude was amazing, especially if you head off on one of the nearby hikes. The staff at the lodge were all very accommodating, taking us on guided hikes, boat tours around the lake looking for eagles, showing us hand crafts such as making spruce salve and dreamcatchers in our spare time.

And the food - just wow! Each meal is prepared fresh in the onsite kitchen, including freshly baked bread. There was an incredible amount of variety, and meals are served buffet, serve yourself style, at shared tables so you can get to know your travel companions and make new friends. From filling breakfasts, delicious afternoon pastries, made from scratch soups, to mouth watering suppers, all meals are included as part of your stay cost, making this a true all inclusive experience  If you are looking for a place to truly get away from it all for a few days, Blachford Lake Lodge has everything you need for some R&R. Join me in September 2020 for the ultimate northern lights adventure and getaway - more details below.

 

Ribbons of AuroraRibbons of Aurora

Northern Lights just outside of Yellowknife, NT

For the first time, I am expanding my photography tours/lessons to this stunning area for September 2020. At the link below you can find out more info about my photography retreat here, and while this event is mostly already full, I may have 1 or 2 spots available depending on your accommodation needs. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I announce tours and workshops and will likely be heading to Blachford Lake each year going forward. The link for my newsletter is also below.

 

Check out my Blachford Lake Lodge Photography Retreat here

 

If you decide to go, I highly recommend spending a few days in the Yellowknife area either before or after your trip to the lodge too. The more days in the area that you have, the more you increase your chances of seeing a great display of Northern Lights.

Some highlights in the Yellowknife area:

  • The Ingraham Trail - a 70km dead end road that offers several stopping points at lakes and roadside pullouts for aurora viewing
  • Cameron falls - a beautiful set of waterfalls along the Ingraham Trail that is about a 2km hike off the highway
  • Cameron River Ramparts - a gorgeous and easily accessible set of rapids located about 500m off the Ingraham Trail
  • Old Town Yellowknife - a historic section of the city of Yellowknife with local art and attractions
  • Bush Pilot's Monument - overlooks the entire area, located in Old Town
  • Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Museum

 

Sign up for my monthly newsletter here

 

Get your own LumeCube products here -Use MARK10 for 10% OFF
 

 

 

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markjinksphotography@gmail.com (Mark Jinks Photography) aurora aurora borealis autumn blachford lake lodge bucket list bucket list ideas canada landscape night photography northern lights northwest territories photography workshop things to do in yellowknife travel wilderness resort workshop yellowknife https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2020/1/a-northern-jewel---blachford-lake-lodge Mon, 13 Jan 2020 19:53:49 GMT
All Aboard! A Rocky Mountaineer Adventure https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2019/8/all-aboard-a-rocky-mountaineer-adventure  

 

The mountains of Jasper reflect in the spotless train cars at first light.markjinksphotography.com The mountains of Jasper reflect in the spotless train cars at first light.

 

   It's dark as I approach the train station, I can barely just make out the silhouettes of the mountains surrounding Jasper. I'm immediately greeted by some of the Rocky Mountaineer staff, surprised at how early I am. Just here to get some sunrise shots before boarding, I reply. I'm introduced to two staff members who are willing to give me a little behind the gates tour before the remainder of the passengers arrive.

 

  The sun first starts to rise over this sleepy little mountain town. Despite next to no cloud cover, the orange hues illuminate the freshly cleaned coaches of the train we will be riding aboard, making our way through the Canadian Rockies to Kamloops on the first leg of the journey. I setup, and shoot along the length of the train, looking for different angles and perspectives. Soon, other passengers begin to arrive, and the sound of an Indigenous drum beats in a pattern. Guests are welcomed and made comfortable, with coffee and fresh pastries in the station. There is a feeling of anticipation, as the pre-boarding ceremonies commence.

 

  Growing up in England, I was fascinated with train culture. I was a regular trainspotter, sneaking away with friends to a bridge or embankment after school to watch different types of trains go by. When I moved to Canada in the early 80's, I instantly fell in love with the rocky mountains. How cool would it be to take a train through this landscape, I dreamed. Well, fast forward to 30 some years later, and here I was, ready to fulfill a lifelong dream of riding on a train through those same rocky mountains.

 

  Moments before the boarding process, all of the guests and staff gathered round and commenced in a countdown, then we were invited aboard by smiling faces. We would be riding in GoldLeaf Service, which is like a double decker version of a standard rail coach. We climbed the spiral staircase to the top floor and sunk into our comfortable seats, eyes wide at the size of the windows and open view roof, you could instantly feel the comfort and luxury that this ride had to offer.

The Jasper, Alberta, train station The Jasper, Alberta, train station


   After a sendoff at the station, we lurched forward and we were off! Slowly slipping out of the Jasper townsite, as our hosts introduced themselves and went over the timeline of events we could expect that day, safety policies, and an emphasis on just how much fun we were about to have. They were barely into it when, we heard "bear on the right, bear on the right", sure enough, as our coach passed, a young black bear was ambling up a hillside. For some, it was the first bear they'd seen. It would be the first of many wildlife sightings on this journey.

A view down along the train from the vestibule.

A view down along the train from the vestibule.


   If you are interested in doing some photography on this adventure, I'd recommend bringing at least a couple of different lenses. A telephoto for wildlife, distant subjects, compressed landscapes, and a wide angle for interior shots, tunnel approaches, and general landscapes that include the train. You'll have to shoot at a very fast shutter speed while moving along, unless you want to incorporate some motion blur purposely. I also recommend a good camera strap. I rarely use a strap on my camera as I mainly shoot landscapes on a tripod and I find it gets in the way, so I opted for a Peak Designs slide strap that can easily be removed from my camera body, and is comfortable to wear.

 

Mount Robson slowly disappearing from view.

Mount Robson slowly disappearing from view.

 

A Black & White rendition of stunning Mount Robson.markjinksphotography.com A Black & White rendition of stunning Mount Robson.
 

  One of the main attractions on this leg of the journey, is the unmistakable Mount Robson. Standing at nearly 4000 metres (13,000 ft) it is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. Located entirely in BC, it has it's own Provincial Park, and is an area frequented by hikers and campers each Summer. At this point, your journey starts heading South, running parallel to Highway 5, the corridor through Blue River and Clearwater, near Wells Gray Provincial Park. This area is great for spotting black bears.

 

The dining area is located in the lower level of the GoldLeaf Service carriages.

The dining area is located in the lower level of the GoldLeaf Service carriages.

 

  One thing you never have to worry about on Rocky Mountaineer is going hungry! It seemed like we would just finish a meal, and preparations were being made for the next one. Having a smaller passenger load, we were able to all eat as one group and we're called down below for each meal. For larger groups, staggered meal servings would be required. The food was absolutely incredible, all prepared fresh from an onboard kitchen, made up of award-winning chefs. Snacks and drinks are constantly offered to you in your seat, so you never have to ask or wonder when your next food or drink will be.

 

 

  Erin, one of our wonderful hosts on this trip
Erin, one of our wonderful hosts on this trip

 

   The staff on board the train were incredibly amazing. Full of knowledge, trivia, and cool little facts that I had no idea about. There were a few times that we were waiting for freight trains, and during these downtimes when we weren't moving, the staff always kept us well entertained. Our crew consisted of Erin, Kenny, Jocelyn and Kayla, who all took turns as hosts, MC's, and servers. The crew can sometimes work 16 hours in a day, as they are the first ones to board, and last to get off the train. This is seasonal work, as Rocky Mountaineer runs from April to September, so a lot of the staff I talked to travel during their time off, or work a different job in the winter season. 

 

   Take some time to talk to your fellow passengers. It turns out we were the only Canadian passengers on this particular coach, and it was great to hear stories from all over the world. Some passengers were visiting Canada for the first time, while others were on their tenth visit! Everyone was incredibly friendly!

 

 

The area around Kamloops, BC.

  The area around Kamloops, BC.

 

  On Day 2, we embark from Kamloops, British Columbia to Vancouver. As we move out of the mountains, we encounter more of an arid desert type landscape West of Kamloops. Lots of farming and agriculture, abandoned properties, and rivers make up the landscape in this area. We slowly follow  Kamloops Lake westward, where we see Bald Eagles and Ospreys along the shoreline, perched in trees, keeping an eye out for fish and other opportunistic meals. We enter several tunnels and cross many bridges as we make our way South to Hell's Gate.

 

Entering a tunnel in the Kamloops area.
Entering a Tunnel in the Kamloops area. 

 

  Before you knew it, we were soon entering the Fraser Valley, and the gateway to Vancouver. Orchards, farms, and waterways became the main scenery in this area, and the closer we got to Vancouver, a major port, the longer the waits became for freight trains ahead of us on the line, rail jams as they were called. The staff once again kept us well entertained during these non-moving lulls, and I personally enjoyed my time out on the vestibule, admiring the views and taking in the fresh air. Before long, we were pulling into the Vancouver station, and this amazing journey was complete. I would do it again in a heartbeat!  

 

 

Looking out the back vestibule.

Looking out the back vestibule.

 

 

 

The Vancouver skyline at night, from Stanley Park.www.markjinksphotography.com The Vancouver skyline at night, from Stanley Park.

 

 One of the coolest things that Rocky Mountaineer did, was transport your luggage separately on the journey, directly to your hotel. When it was time to dis-embark the train, you were already checked in to your pre assigned hotel room, and your luggage was already waiting for you in the room, how neat is that?

 

  Overall, I absolutely loved this journey. The views were pristine, the food excellent, and the staff were above and beyond accommodating. I highly recommend seeing the Canadian Rockies from this perspective at least once in your lifetime.

 

  Some travel trips:

  • Bring whatever you think you will need during the day with you on the train. Your packed luggage will travel separately, and you won't have access to your suitcase during this time.
  • You won't have much wifi/phone signal during the journey, which is great. Make the most of it, sit back and relax, and enjoy the trip!
  • If you plan to do some photography from the train, bring a couple of different lenses. A telephoto is great for wildlife and long distance shots, while a wide angle is great for tunnels, bridges and general landscape. 
  • Shoot at a very fast shutter speed while moving to avoid motion blur in your photos, I found 1/500s and faster to be optimum. Or, get creative and shoot some images with purposeful motion blur.
  • Spend as much time as you can on the outdoor vestibule. This is the best place to get great photos, as the windows in the upper deck have lots of unwanted reflections. If you do insist on shooting from inside, use a polarizer to cut down on glare.
  • The GoldLeaf Service coaches are definitely worth it. Not only do you have an upper deck view from the glass dome, but you have your own seating area and chefs on board. SilverLeaf Service also offers great meal choices, served directly at your seat.
     

   

   Check out the Rocky Mountaineer website here

 

 

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markjinksphotography@gmail.com (Mark Jinks Photography) Alberta Banff Canada Jasper Jasper National Park Kamloops Landscape Luxury mountains Rocky Mountaineer Spring Train Travel Vancouver https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2019/8/all-aboard-a-rocky-mountaineer-adventure Mon, 12 Aug 2019 17:13:50 GMT
An Open Space https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2019/7/an-open-space
In Wood Buffalo National park, just across the NT/Alberta border, massive salt deposits that can be seen from space accumulate over hundreds of kilometres. Here they are flanked by the lichen Red Samphire, as the Atumn colours of the North come to life in Early September.The Great Salt PlainsIn Wood Buffalo National park, just across the NT/Alberta border, massive salt deposits that can be seen from space accumulate over hundreds of kilometres. Here they are flanked by the lichen Red Samphire, as the Autumn colours of the North come to life in Early September.

The great Salt Plains in Wood Buffalo National Park

Vast. Massive. Expanse.

Endless horizons.

Huge skies. Fierce winds. Wicked weather. Raw wilderness. 

These are some terms I would use to describe the Northwest Territories.

I finally had my first experience to North of the 60th parallel last Autumn, from September 9-16, as I made the 1100km trek North from Edmonton to Hay River. The plan was to get to Peace River the first night which is about halfway, and then finish it off the next morning. The return trip would be a straight shot 11 hour drive back. I had partnered with Ford Canada on this trip, and was driving a 2018 F150 Turbo Platinum. An ask from Ford, was the possibility of capturing some photographs of the truck underneath the Northern Lights. Never guaranteed, but I was going to do all I could to try and make that that happen.

 

 

I left late morning and arrived in Peace River in the late afternoon. After relaxing at the hotel for a bit, I met up with local photographer friend Paul Lavoie, and we headed out for a sunset shoot overlooking the town. We caught a decent sunset over looking the mighty Peace River, before I had an early night, eager to get on the road at a decent time the next morning.

 

The sunset overlooking the Peace River, in the city of Peace of Peace River, Alberta.Sunset in Peace CountryThe sunset overlooking the Peace River, in the city of Peace of Peace River, Alberta.

 Overlooking the Peace River at Sunset

The next morning, weaving through open sections of the massive boreal forest, I was in High Level by noon. I stopped there for a rest before continuing North. After an obligatory stop at the North of 60 welcoming centre, I continued on to Alexandra Falls, an absolutely gorgeous set of falls that reminded me of a couple of falls in Jasper National Park.

I went down to river level to check out a few different angles, but overall I liked the look from the viewpoint, as some Autumn reds dominated the foliage. After a series of exposures at different speeds, I liked 1/5th of a second the best, and then fine tuned my composition. The end result was one of my favourite images from the trip, as seen below.

 

Alexandra Falls in the Northwest Territories at sunset, during the beautiful colours of Autumn.Autumn at Alexandra Falls Alexandra Falls in the Northwest Territories at sunset, during the beautiful colours of Autumn.

Alexandra Falls near Hay River, NT

Hay River is about 20 minutes Northeast of Alexandra Falls, via Enterprise. We arrived at the Ptarmigan Inn Hotel, one of a few places to stay in town (also check out Eileen's Bed and Breakfast) and settled in, ready for the next 6 days in town. I had planned ahead some day trips. One day each for Wood Buffalo/Fort Smith, Pine Point/Fort Resolution, Lady Eveleyn Falls/Kakisa, and another two days to just stay local and explore the town and surrounding area. I decided it would be best to bookend those spare days on each end. 

 

Day 2

 

On this day we gathered some supplies and food to stock at the hotel, and explored part of the town. I had a great visit with Peter and Jared at the Hay River Tourism office, which is right on the main highway into town. Make sure to say hi from me if you stop by there! They were incredibly helpful and friendly. I went down the pier and docks, passing by a Coast Guard Base. That shows you just how big Great Slave Lake is (10th largest lake in the world). I met up again with my friend Paul Lavoie at sunset, who had made the drive up from Peace River. We dealt with an incredibly biting cold arctic wind during sunset which I wasn't quite ready for in early September, but we powered through and I got one of my favourite all-time long exposure images along the beach, using a huge piece of driftwood as foreground interest.

 

A large piece of driftwood anchors itself on the beach at Great Slave Lake, Northwest TerritoriesWashed AshoreA large piece of driftwood anchors itself on the beach at Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories

Driftwood along the beach at Great Slave Lake, NT

 

On Day 3 we headed for Wood Buffalo National Park. I was over the moon with excitement of finally seeing Canada's largest National Park, which is larger than the country of Switzerland. On the way, I encountered rain, snowfall, gorgeous fall colours, wildlife such as coyotes, bison, and black bears, sunken Karst holes,  and endless swaths of trees. But the highlight was the Great Salt Plains. Visible from space, these massive salt deposits stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Making them even more special, was the bloom of the Red Samphire lichen, surrounding each pool with a burgundy glow of this northern flora. The image at the top of this article shows the view of this incredible landscape.

 

A massive bison along the highway into Wood Buffalo National Park, Northwest Territories.Beautiful BeastA massive bison along the highway into Wood Buffalo National Park, Northwest Territories.

A bison in Wood Buffalo National Park, NT

  After a quick supper at the pizza place in Fort Smith, we began the 3.5 hour drive back to Hay River. It was a long, exhausting, tiring day, and all I could think of was shooting sunset and then falling into a deep sleep back at the hotel. But Space Weather Live had other plans for me. 

    I had timed this trip to land during the new moon cycle in September, and it really was a high priority for me to photograph the Aurora Borealis up here. The cell service was very spotty as I drove back through Wood Buffalo National Park, but occasionally I would get a slight signal. News of a Kp5 geomagnetic solar storm was predicted for the coming hours, which meant a really great chance of the northern lights. The cloud cover was starting to clear around sunset, now we just needed to hope for a few other variables to fall into place, a direct hit on earths atmosphere, negative Bz values, a solar wind speed upwards of 500 kp/s. If I lost you with some of those terms, I could write a future "what to look for to successfully forecast the Northern Lights" story? Let me know in the comments below if you're interested in something like that.

  Anyway, as I neared Hay River and the blue hour was setting in, I didn't need to check the data any further. I could already see greyish streaks of light dancing across the sky in the final gasp of twilight. The aurora was out, and it was going to be incredible as soon as darkness falls completely. I contacted Aaron Tambour, a local photographer friend and we discussed a plan to meet up. I followed him and his friends out to the Kat'lo'deeche first nation lands, and we set up along an outflow stream of the lake to get some reflections. The northern lights on this night were far superior to anything I had seen in Alberta, despite being at half strength (kp4 vs kp8) from the best show I had witnessed to the South.

 

Aurora Borealis screams across the northern skies of Hay River, Northwest TerritoriesFull tilt magicAurora Borealis screams across the northern skies of Hay River, Northwest Territories

 

A Tipi sits under the lights in the Northwest Territories.Tipi under the lightsA Tipi sits under the lights in the Northwest Territories.

 

Northern lights above an old trappers cabin on an outflow stream of the Great Slave Lake.Powerful lights of the northNorthern lights above an old trappers cabin on an outflow stream of the Great Slave Lake.

 

The northern lights seem to follow the shoreline of Great Slave Lake, NT.Night at the BeachThe northern lights seem to follow the shoreline of Great Slave Lake, NT.

Northern lights filled the skies on the third night of my journey

As you can see, an incredible display. This lasted for only about an hour and a half. Every other night it was completely overcast, so this is a great example of, if you have the conditions, shoot it, don't make any excuses. I could have easily given up on this night being exhausted from all the driving, but as it turned out, I didn't get the opportunity again on this trip.

 

Day 4

On this day I ventured West towards Kakisa and the beautiful Lady Evelyn Falls. As I passed some signs for Yellowknife, which is located approximately 5 hours from Hay River, I wondered when I would get there. Turns out I will be heading there for a week this coming September, 2019. Looking very forward to seeing Great Slave Lake from the Northern side.

 

Lady Evelyn Falls in the midday light. I had hoped to rerun to this location in better light, but just ran out of time. Next trip.Lady Evelyn FallsLady Evelyn Falls in the midday light. I had hoped to rerun to this location in better light, but just ran out of time. Next trip.

Lady Evelyn Falls in the Kakisa area

This young black bear was seen along the highway heading towards Kakisa, NT.Young Black BearThis young black bear was seen along the highway heading towards Kakisa, NT.

A black bear on the way to Lady Evelyn Falls

Day 5

 

On day 5 I ventured out towards the ghost town of Pine Point, which has an interesting history. There is virtually nothing left of the town. Its actually an overgrown network of roads and subdivisions with no houses remaining, as the town was completely dependent on a nearby mine. At the peak of its existence in 1976, it was home to almost 2000 residents. The mine closed in 1988, and homes were sold cheaply, moved to nearby Fort Resolution or demolished. The population is now 0.

 

From there I ventured on to Fort Resolution, on the east side of Great Slave Lake, and likely the most remote community I had been to in Canada. I chuckled at that thought while I was there, that a few days later I would be heading to Toronto, one of Canada's most populous and easily accessed communities.

 

Sunset over the Hay River, NT, as fall colours dominate the scene.Hay River SunsetSunset over the Hay River, NT, as fall colours dominate the scene.

Sunset over the Hay River, NT

Day 6

 

On day 6, I explored more of the town and rested up for the long drive back to Edmonton the next day. The trip North had been a huge success and I already knew I couldn't wait to get back. I think a trip North to the Yukon or Northwest Territories will be in my future each year going forward. The lack of people and tourists, the wide open spaces, the abundant wildlife and scenery are absolutely incredible. Oh, and then there is the Northern Lights of course!

 

Some Recommendations

  If you decide to go, September is a great month. The bugs have retreated due to the cooler weather, the lakes are still open for incredible reflections, the fall colours are beautiful, and the nights are long for aurora activity. It dosen't take much on the Kp strength scale to put on a decent show up here. Also, historically, September is the clearest month during the aurora season. From October to December there is a greater chance of clouds and precipitation during the overnight hours.

 

  Make sure to bring an emergency kit and have a well maintained vehicle. The roads are generally all in great condition and paved, but the vast distances between communities means very little traffic. You may not see another vehicle for over an hour. If you break down or need assistance, it's best to be prepared.

 Being a northern community, the costs of food and fuel are much higher than in the South, so be prepared for that. Lots of warm clothes. A warm jacket, gloves, and a touque were essential despite only being early September. I did see temperature swings from -5 to 20 C.

 

   Overall, a fantastic destination for some early fall colours, a vast expanse of wilderness, and a great place for photography if you are into nature and wildlife. This quickly became one of my favourite places, and I can't wait to get back.

 

Ohh and in case you were wondering. Yes, I did get the truck under the lights....

 

Northern lights dominate the skies over the new Ford F150 Turbo.Oh Canada!Northern lights dominate the skies over the new Ford F150 Turbo.

Northern lights over the 2018 Ford F-150

Thanks so much for looking. I hope you enjoyed this story. If you have any questions about this part of the Northwest Territories, feel free to reach out to me via email or my social channels. If you enjoyed this story, please let me know in a comment below, or feel free to share it with your friends.

Until next time, keep your batteries charged! Adios!

 

Very special thanks to the following:

 

     Paul Lavoie Photography

     Aaron Tambour Photography

     Hay River Tourism

     Ford of Canada

     Nikon Canada

     Dolica Tripods

     Ptarmigan Inn

     

 

 

 

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markjinksphotography@gmail.com (Mark Jinks Photography) Alexandra Falls aurora Aurora borealis autumn autumn colours beach bison black bear canada fall ford ford canada Fort Resolution Fort Smith Great Slave Lake hay river kakisa Lady Evelyn Falls lake landscape north Northern lights northwest territories Pine Point Wood Buffalo National Park https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2019/7/an-open-space Wed, 03 Jul 2019 16:38:00 GMT
Location Review - Tumbler Ridge BC, the great British Columbia Wilderness https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2017/6/location-review---tumbler-ridge-bc-the-great-british-columbia-wilderness   Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia is a true gem of the North. I took a trip here recently to discover it for myself, and I wasn't disappointed. Small town living amongst the vast wilderness, there's something for everyone here, from beautiful waterfalls, to wildlife, to dinosaur fossil discoveries, its a great place for solo travellers, families or weekend getaways in the wilderness.

  I spent just 36 hours here, but could have easily kept myself occupied for a month or more, despite being in a remote location, 7 hours from Edmonton, 10 hours from Calgary, 12 hours from Vancouver, there is so much to see and do. I was impressed by the abundance of wildlife, the stunning waterfalls and rolling hills on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and the small town charm.

The welcome sign to Tumbler Ridge                The Welcome sign to Tumbler Ridge, BC

Getting there

There are 3 main roads into Tumbler Ridge. Highway 52 coming from the south crossing over from Alberta after Grande Prairie (Warning - this is a gravel road for a good section, about 40km) Highway 52 coming in from the Northeast after Dawson Creek, or Highway 29 from the Northwest coming in from Chetwynd. The closest major town would be Dawson Creek about 120km to the Northeast. 

 

Location of Tumbler Ridge

 Approximate location of Tumbler Ridge

Highway 52 heading West towards Tumbler Ridge coming from Alberta (gravel section for about 40km)

 Highway 52 heading West from Alberta, there is a lengthy gravel section

Whats in town?

 Most amenities needed are in the town, despite a small population of about 2500 people, there is a Hospital, RCMP and Fire stations, 3 hotels (I highly recommend the Trend Mountain Hotel, my stay here was incredibly comfortable), several shops including a gas station, grocery store, pharmacy, dollar store and several restaurants, among others. I highly recommend your first stop to be the Visitor Information centre, where you can pick up some great trail maps and further build your itinerary and have some friendly chat with locals about happenings in the area.

The Tumbler Ridge visitor centre, a great source for local info. The Tumbler Ridge Visitor Center

 

 Tumbler Ridge Town hall

 

Mining and Forestry are the main industries here

 

The Trend Mountain Hotel, I highly recommend this place for accommodation

 

 

What to Do?

There are several excellent hikes in the area, some very close to town, with varying degrees of difficulty and lengths. Bergeron Falls, Quality Falls, Bullmoose Marshes, and Flatbed Creek are all quite close. Towards Chetwynd there is Moose Lake and Gwillim Lake Provincial Park, and if you enjoy dinosaur history there is a museum, palaeontology centre, and fossil discovery trail nearby. To the south lies one of the major attractions, Kinuseo Falls, which is higher than Niagara Falls in height and must be seen. It's located about 60km south of town in Monkman Provincial Park, though the last 50km are on a gravel forestry road that can be a bit rough in places. Monkman Provincial Park has it's own treasures with some great backcountry camping and hiking adventures to be had. Along that way there are also some other great waterfalls, Barbour and Nesbitt's Knee Falls. The Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark makes up a lot of the area and is a world heritage UNESCO site, more information can be found at the visitor information centre.

Kinuseo Falls, South of Tumbler Ridge. Kinuseo Falls

Lots of beautiful landscapes in the area

 

This mural depicts what Tumbler Ridge is all about, waterfalls and dinosaurs. A mural depicting what Tumbler Ridge is all about, Dinosaurs and Waterfalls

 

A creek in the forest on the way to Kinuseo Falls

 

Gwillim Lake in late day light. Gwillim Lake shows off the beauty of the area

 

 

Wildlife

 I was really impressed with the amount of wildlife I saw in the area in just a short time. In the 36 hours I was there, I saw no less than 14 Grizzly Bears, several Black bears including some with cubs, lots of Moose and Deer too! Speaking to some locals, Wolves and Cougars are fairly commonly seen as well, and there are populations of Lynx and Wolverines in the area too. It's called the heart of Bear country though, there was even a grizzly wandering through the town while I was there and locals recommended having bear spray at all times, even doing day to day business within the town.

 

A black bear cub I spotted just west of town. A black bear cub just outside of town

Moose sightings were fairly common. Moose were a fairly common sighting

 

Grizzly bears were sighted frequently, this was one of the largest I'd ever seen

The Bullmoose Marshes The Bullmoose Marshes

Summary

 I absolutely loved this area. If you were wanting to get away from the more touristy places in the mountains like Banff and Jasper and to a place with a much more remote feel, I'd highly recommend the extra time it takes to get here. At most places, I was the only one there, and you really get a sense of true wilderness. I can't wait to get back here, especially if I can time it during a northern lights event, I bet the aurora would be a brilliant display here with minimal light pollution and the northern latitude. I also want to have a chance to do some more waterfall hikes and explore even more of the area. There was so much to see and do that I felt overwhelmed trying to cram as much in as I could during my short time there. Consider this blog review part 1 of 2, as I definitely plan on going back here soon :)

 

 

 

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markjinksphotography@gmail.com (Mark Jinks Photography) british columbia canada canadian rockies landscape mountains northern bc tourism travel tumbler ridge waterfalls wilderness wildlife https://www.markjinksphotography.com/blog/2017/6/location-review---tumbler-ridge-bc-the-great-british-columbia-wilderness Sat, 10 Jun 2017 04:50:16 GMT