50th Parallel

October 27, 2013 – Another busy week, mostly out of the office. I like those weeks. Last week I cancelled a road trip, and then tacked that facility onto the end of this week’s travels. The fog have had Vancouver socked in for weeks, so it was a nice treat to get out onto Vancouver Island and into the sunshine for a few days. I was up in Campbell River for a day and a half at the Quinsam River hatchery, and then over to the outer coast to the Nitinat River hatchery.

Empty Seat, Clouded ViewWall of FogFog Bank

The drive up Island on Tuesday was pretty much in thick fog the entire way, but as the day progressed, the fog pulled back and the sunshine broke through, but that fog hung just off the shore, waiting for things to cool so it could creep back in. And it did, overnight it socked the city in under that thick blanket again. But it pulled back faster Wednesday morning, which meant the system was weakening.

RosehipSeagulls at restRays

On Wednesday I spent half the day with the Quinsam crew learning more about their program. Every site is so different, both the staff and their programs and procedures. It’s always pleasure to spend some time, and if I can help in some small measure, then even better.

Salmon EggsEgg Picking

On the way to the second facility I was to visit, I stopped in Parksville to pick up a co-worker and we drove over the island to Port Alberni and then on to the Bamfield road to head out to Nitinat. It was hard to make the turn at Franklin, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Bamfield, but the route is still ingrained, as is the heightened awareness and the skill at dodging loaded logging trucks on blind corners.

When we arrived at Nitinat, the hatchery manager had us jump back into the vehicle and follow him down to the lake, where we took a boat and headed out onto the lake and up the river for a tour. Bears, eagles, salmon in the river, seagulls picking at the carcasses of spent fish. And all of this on a cloudless day. This fall has been phenomenal from a weather perspective. Phenomenal for humans, not so great for the fish though.

Boating on Nitinat LakeSurfer DogNitinat Lake Rest Stop

The hatchery manager took us up the lake a bit and we hiked through the bush to a small campsite with a couple of picnic tables that had been brought in some time ago, when a road still existed to the site. Now it is a mostly deserted point on the lake, with a fabulous view. Just sheltered by another point, which brought the wind down to near nothing. And the late day sun brought the most amazing golden light bathing across everything. And at this time of year, there are the most awesome mushrooms growing in the moist litter under the trees.

These remote hatchery sites are such wonderful places to visit, even if they are a bit of work to get to.


Thursday brought a cool morning and more fog. We helped out with an egg take before collecting some fry for transport back to the biological station for a health check. And then we were barreling down that logging road again. A quick stop to drop my colleague off in Parksville, another stop at PBS to drop off the samples, and I just made the 5pm ferry home. Nanaimo was fully in the sun, but the ferry was enveloped in that seemingly ever present fog bank within minutes of leaving the dock.

Sunset over Departure Bay