Sunday, October 29, 2023

Vancouver Island - last excursion before southern migration!

I think this will be a rather short post, as I don't seem to have taken many photos!

The plan was to head up to Jasper, to attend a large retirement party for about 8 staff who were calling it quits, many of whom I worked with there, or in other Parks.  Fall colours were on full display on the scenic drive up the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). 

Sadly, some of the warden stations that I previously lived at are completely gone, while others have taken on a certain abandoned, sad look.  A far cry from the vibrant, busy places they were back in the day.  I guess that's 'progress'?

The following day, I drove up to Maligne Lake warden station, where I worked previously - twice!  I started my Parks career there in 1981, living in the back of an old garage that has long since been replaced.  When I was there the first time, there was no phone, just radio communications.  We had two horses in the barn, two boats out front at the dock, and snow machines for the winter.  So - I patrolled by horse, by boat, by snowmobile, by foot, and by truck.  Power was supplied by a generator that ran 24/7.

As luck would have it, I was assigned up there again a few years later, and became the only full-time resident of the lake for three years.  By this time, crude telephone service had arrived - supplied by a huge 12 foot satellite dish, and an accompanying building.  There was a noticeable delay on all calls due to the time it took the signals to bounce off a satellite.    Maligne Tours ran the large tour boat company just across the bay from my house, so it was quite busy in the summer tour season, but they shut down for the winter, so I was the only one there all winter.  At that time, I set XC ski trails in the area, but that has all been discontinued over concerns for the declining caribou population.

Now, in 2023, the noisy generators are long gone, and silent solar has replaced them!  Phone service is now available through Starlink at both the station and the boat tour company.

'My' government house in the early 90's!
As luck would have it on this visit, two other retired wardens who had also served time at Maligne Lake were there to pose with me in front of the 'new' office from the late 80's!

The hockey stick with the flagging tape decoration was a key tool in wildlife management, usually used to defend ourselves against aggressive cow elk - as we were moving them and their calves out of campgrounds, or other areas where they would be in danger.

With all the retirements taken care of, and a decent weather forecast for Vancouver Island, that was the next destination.

One of my favourite spots is on the coast north of Campbell River.  It's on the inside passage, so all the tugs, barges and commercial traffic pass this way, including cruise ships - in the summer.

Not sure why, but the camera decided to over-expose a bunch of these shots !

Visiting with some more retired wardens down the island, finished off this trip.  Time to head for home, and gear up for the winter down south!