At the top of my Sister-in-Law’s bucket list has been hiking to Grey Owl’s cabin. It’s a 40 km round hike in Prince Albert National Park, an enormous federal park in northern Saskatchewan. You can look up all kinds of information about who Grey Owl was and what he was doing up on Ajawaan lake. This blog post will simply chronicle our journey and give suggestions and coordinates for future hikers.
Hiking advice is generally relative, depending on many factors from weather and gear to preparedness and individual athletic ability. However, this advice is absolute:
DON’T DO THIS HIKE IN SUMMER!Jason Schultz
Unless you like 70 trillion insects swarming and buzzing your face and body non-stop and you love sweating all the time. LOL. We did this trip at the end of June and our temperatures were an unbearable 36-38ºC with absolutely no breeze. Kingsmere lake was absolutely glass the whole time. The insects went from bad to worse with mosquitos, black flies, deer flies and horse flies each taking their turns attacking us non-stop. The greatest challenges this hike provided us would have been remedied by doing it in late September/early October.
That, and ultra-lite gear. We just used stuff we had on hand and that made for a bit of a challenge. Our gear was heavy and we had to camp at the far end of the hike, at Northend – which meant we had to carry the gear pretty much the entire hike. If we could have lessened that load, I predict it would have made the journey 17% more enjoyable.
This map is provided by Parks Canada but it doesn’t include GPS coordinates for the campgrounds. I find it so helpful to have these things marked so that you can tell how far the next stop is going to be. Here are my GPS coordinates for the camp stops and trail heads along the way:
1) Trail Start: N54° 01.565′ W106° 24.933′
2) Westwind: N54° 02.974′ W106° 24.419′
3) Chipewyan Portage: N54° 04.462′ W106° 23.778′
4) Sandy Beach: N54° 07.117′ W106° 24.604′
5) Northend: N54° 08.085′ W106° 27.391′
6) Grey Owl Hike Trailhead: N54° 08.043′ W106° 27.728′
7) Grey Owl Cabin: N54° 08.990′ W106° 27.808′
It truly is a gorgeous hike with lots of spectacular scenery. We had a good but challenging time! The most challenging section was Chipewyan Portage to Sandy Beach, mainly because it’s the most open part of the trail and it was unbelievably hot. We were able to get cooled off swimming at Sandy Beach thankfully. The registration process to hike the backcountry has to be the day you start the hike at 7AM. Then you have to drive the 35km to the trail head, so you don’t actually start hiking until around 8AM or so. It was already sweltering by that time. The park really needs to employ an online registration setup with night-before access so you can start earlier. We started our return trip before 6AM and didn’t regret it at all. Thankfully, we saw no bears either. Elk in the Waskesui campground was about as exotic as it got.
Hiking in to the Cabin June 30th – 24.6km, 10:15 hours total (including swimming stops).
Hiking out July 1st – 17.9km, 5:56 hours total.
All photos taken with Samsung S20.
Went outside and looked up and saw this incredible halo! I don’t know anything more about it than that! That and 16mm on a full frame isn’t enough to capture it all. Probably need a fisheye. 😎
There were glorious sundogs this evening.
I was changing a poopy diaper.
I was too late.
Just a couple of quick sunset pics tonight with the Fuji XPro-2 and the 90mm f2. I dig the super saturated Velvia look in bleak winter! 😎
I love Black & White photography. I also love colour. But every once in a while, B&W is the way to go. The family was recently out at Claybank, Saskatchewan the site of an old brick factory that has since been converted into a museum/heritage site. The textures of this place scream Black & White! So, I shot that way with my trusty XPro-2 and the good ol’ 23mm lens. This is a build your own film simulation setting that seeks to mimic an old Tri-X film from back in the day. Really punchy, really contrasty. I added a bit of grit/clarity in post to make the images more crunchy. It’s a cool way to use light and make memories. 😎
Hey! When winter time rolls around, my cameras basically never see the light of day. If they get any use, it’s all indoors. I’ve got some posts coming up about indoor macro work I have been doing but in terms of getting outside, forgetaboutit! It’s way too cold and miserable for me to mess around with gear.
That said, I couldn’t help myself yesterday. There were the most incredible sundogs I’ve ever seen! It was -50 BillionºC but I ran out with the D800 and 16-35mm f/4 lens. There was this “double rainbow” sundog that I’ve never encountered up above the complete ring around the sun. It was worth freezing my baguettes off! 🤣
They were impressive enough in the landscape orientation but even with 16mm I couldn’t get in that top reflection so portrait orientation won the day! ☀️🐶
2017 has been an amazing year of travel and travel photography opportunities! This last venture took us to Waskesiu to stay in Prince Albert National Park at the tail end of September. It’s Saskatchewan’s favourite park (read BUSIEST) and so it was great to go there and not have any crowds and enjoy minimal bugs! We stayed in an oTENTik – which was nice but severely overpriced. They wanted $120 a night for a tent with no bathroom or lights. A bit of a rip. But the location is worth the money. The fall colour peaked a few days before we arrived but it was still absolutely glorious! I brought along the big Nikon gear to sop it all up in the dynamic range of the D800. 24mm 1.8G lens & 85mm 1.8G are all I took. I was hoping to get some cool flash shots of the kids in the colour but it rained too much and put a kibosh on my off camera flash dreams.
The Elk rut was still on too which meant raspy bugles could be heard throughout the park. We managed to approach one bull and a harem of cows but they were hanging out on the golf course. It makes for pretty crappy wildlife photos to have them eating fairway grass! So we continued on our way and did a hike through the Boundary Bog. It was incredible! Tiny Tamarack trees were everywhere in a brilliant display of yellows and reds. I can only imagine how insane the mosquitos would be here during the summer months. Very glad to hit up the location in the fall!
We were able to do one more hike down by the Waskesiu River before the next big rain storm hit. It really hampered the photo opportunities but I was able to snag a few more shots along the boardwalk before having to head for the hills.
Our last night cleared off quite nicely and I was able to get some cool milky way shots through the trees in the campsite. That’s where the 1.8 lenses really shine. Prime Time baby! [cool]
We had a good time in Waskesiu, taking advantage of the Canada 150 no entrance fee perk. It was a great time to be in the north, dodging the crowds and the bugs. We could have probably stayed another couple of days which would have been great to maybe avoid the rain. But you get what you get and you don’t get upset! On to the next adventure!
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter! Enjoy the Paschal season!
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Luke 24:1-3
The Saskatchewan sunrises and sunsets are incredible. This goes without saying. But time is of the essence. These moments of great light are fleeting and often within a few minutes they are gone forever! Never to be seen again. I guess the lesson is to make the most of the time we have been given; to enjoy and actually live in the moment we are in. This is the miraculous aspect of Photography. It has the ability to freeze time and memories. It gives us the opportunity to return to those fleeting moments and remember them.
Yesterday was a glorious winter day in SE Saskatchewan. We had amazing hoarfrost and then the sky opened up with a glorious blue backdrop. It was majestic as all get out. I slapped the ol’ X100s into Velvia film simulation which is known for it’s highly saturated bombastic colour. (You either love it or hate it I think). It gave an extra level of contrast to the colour palette. I was out visiting a parishioner and I drove past an old abandoned farm yard – except for racoons & squirrels. I stopped after my visit and walked around, capitalizing on all the beauty of the day and the history of the location.
There was some pretty neat fog out this morning when I was out and about. It gradually lifted but still hung on for a bit. I threw the X100s in the car. The black and white images are all just FujiFilm JPEGs with a bit of extra contrast dialled in. I’m really excited about the release of the X-Pro2 in that it has an Acros film simulation. I already love Fuji B&W so much that the Acros will be icing on the monochrome cake! Can’t wait for that camera! 😎
The Last Sunset of 2015! And, I finally got my Christmas lights working. Have a wonderful 2016 everybody!
+God’s Richest Blessings to you in 2016!+
Hello blogosphere! Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead! I’m alive. Busy but alive. The days are just packed! (That’s an old Calvin & Hobbes comic book that I still have on my shelf). Between church life, family life, Estate executor life and professional photography life, I haven’t had time to have a blog life! Better late than never!
We took an amazing family get away in the first part of October to Cypress Hills and stayed at the Resort. We rented cabins which were perfect for us, two bedrooms, kitchenette, beautiful setting. We had the run of the place as there weren’t any other people booked in. The temperatures were crisp in the evening and a bit windy but the days were glorious. Sunny & warm! We had such a blast. Grandma & Grandpa got to hang out with the grandkids, we all got to go on some beautiful hikes and of course, take pictures!
For this trip I brought my full Nikon setup. Usually I’ve replaced the whole kit with my Fuji X100s for family trips because of the versatility, small size and awesome image quality. But for this trip, I wanted to shoot the forest in full frame with my D800. Also I knew I’d be doing some family portraits that showed the glorious fall colour that was still there (Thank the Lord!). So I brought out the dynamic range duo of the D800 & the Df. It’s the best of both worlds for low light performance and resolution.
We went to Conglomerate Cliffs the first day there. It was incredibly windy but still breathtakingly beautiful. I shot some family photos there with flash. I brought along my Alien Bee 1600 and battery pack. It’s such a great light. Super value for the money and I love the volume of light it produces. Quick Photoflex soft box and there you go. Instant Christmas Card photo magic.
We also had some fun doing light painting with the kids and their glow sticks. They had fun whirling them around and seeing the cool streams of colour.
Cypress Hills also has a dark sky preserve with an observatory. We had a decent night but the clouds were rolling in. Were able to nab some northern lights though, and I think I caught a falling star too.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. I cannot recommend Cypress Hills enough. If you’ve never been, you’ve gotta go check it out. It’s provincial treasure! 😎
What a whirlwind tour this last little bit of time has been for us. We were up to Edmonton for a friend’s wedding that I also ended up doing some pictures for. Then on the way back we had to stop at one of Saskatchewan’s craziest spots: The Crooked Bush. We had heard about it in a tourism book and we decided that it was worth the stop. So we detoured at North Battleford on our return journey and navigated to this crazy little plot of trees. It’s literally just that. A strange little aspen wood plot in the middle of nowhere. The bluff of trees right beside it are straight and normal. But these trees are totally gnarly and wild looking! Such a cool place to stop and check out. Nobody knows for sure why this little grove of trees are so crooked. Some have speculated a genetic defect in the trees, other say a UFO crashed there. Others still say that a lawyer is buried there. Ha! 😀
Now because we had been shooting the wedding, I had all my big lighting gear with me. So we took a few shots of the kids. It was very dramatic light that day so we played with it a bit and turned out some pretty cool keepsake images in a really cool place! If you are ever up there near Hafford, SK, be sure to check out the crooked bush!
When I saw the sun raking across the clouds this morning, I ran back in and grabbed the camera! 😎
It is Cold.
It’s been quite busy as of late! We’ve been campin’ up a storm all over Saskatchewan and most recently Manitoba. Child’s Lake has a really terrific campground, as well as tons of other cool stuff. It’s been my in-law’s campground of choice for years. This year we had great weather but the bugs were heinous verging on horrendous. Lots of water = lots of mosquitos. Our poor children looked like walking mosquito bites, despite slathering them down with all manor of DEET bearing spray known to mankind! 👿 But we always have a good time. Weather was good. There was only one rogue black bear in the campground to worry about so that’s not bad either. 😎
My favourite shot from the trip was the banner image from this post. I was really wanting a nice sunset image of Child’s Lake. But the sunset was quasi-lackluster. And boats galore were chopping up the lake for some last minute water skiing and tubing. So I had to with them out until it was almost too late. Plus I was getting eaten alive by the winged vampires – despite the army of dragonflies eating them by the metric truck load above my head. I had the Nikon Df on a tripod and made the 13 second exposure with the 24mm AFS f/1.4 lens. That lens is a cracker jack piece of glass! When I’m travelling I only ever bring a prime kit (24, 50, 85), or just my FujiFilm X100s if I want to be truly ultralight. I opted for the Df because I knew I wanted to make this image that required a bit wider of a lens than the X100s has. The super long exposure turned the water into a polished mirror. As the seconds ticked by the haunting call of loons filled the lake. One notch off of paradise I’d reckon. 🙂
Our weather has finally, FINALLY stopped being nasty/scary/oppressive/cold/miserable. And, we had a clear night! I’ve been dying to try out the Nikon Df’s lowlight awesomeness with the 24mm AF-S 1.4G lens. They work really nice together. I was actually able to shoot at very low ISO (kind of defeating the purpose of the experiment. LOL) 😀 But I decided to throw a little light painting in for good luck. Just a wee smidgeon of light from my iPod. Cool little accent. The final EXIF stats were: ISO 800 24mm f2.8 20sec. The only reason for this shutter speed was to give me time to get out into the frame.
I give you the “StarScape Selfie” 😎
It was only -38 with the windchill today so I thought I’d go and do some HDR photography… I’m insane. But it’s true, the worst weather often gives the best opportunities for making photos. We had killer sun dogs again today as the weather was diabolical. I actually didn’t really set out to do HDR. I wanted a slow shutter speed shot of drifting snow. But I realized I forgot my variable ND filter in my other camera bag. Doh. So HDR it was! (more…)