Canada Travel Diary: Day 7 – 06/04/15

I feel like keeping a journal is becoming a chore. It’s covered with scruffy handwriting, words I can’t even make out due to the hand cramps.

I have no idea where we went today, I took note of a few places we passed, but that’s about it. Bob, Fran and I drove to numerous places to find the wild horses. I got promoted to the front of the car, so I wouldn’t get left behind again, which is also a bonus as I can see out more of windows.

The majority of the day is spent driving in the car do the different locations. Bob said you could drive the length of the UK all the miles we put in. I can see his point, you can drive for miles and miles out here, not passing any towns or houses, whereas back home you would. I mean we have not passed a single gas station out here. I wonder what happens if they run out of fuel?

Thing is, I don’t mind the long drives, as it is something I have always loved; looking out windows, watching the world pass by and keeping a look out for wildlife of course. Thus, this is what I did on this journey.  As soon as we left a whopping great big bird flew over the jeep. Spreading its wings, it soared overhead.

A Bald Eagle. It was huge! And so close, you could see its big menacing beak! It’s a shame I didn’t have my camera out. How unfortunate, as I saw 2 Bald Eagles today and no one will ever believe I’ve seen one now.

En route we saw loads of wolf tracks and when I say loads, I mean loads; I would love to see a pack of wolves out here!

In actual fact we saw a number of different tracks today. Because of the recent snowfall it’s easy to spot. Wolves, Moose, Cougar and Pine Martin were the tracks we saw today, along with a Golden Eagle and a Flicker which is a type of woodpecker.

Back to the journey…

Looking out for signs to give an indication to where we are heading, I noticed we passed Bearberry. Not long after, we pull into a forestry area, and spot three horses immediately close to some trees. The bay stallion looked like he’d been in the wars to protect his mares, scars covering his body. We carry on in this area and come across three more horses, all bays again. They were on the edge of the road in a snowy area, which was great, and then it started snowing. Luckily I managed to get some snaps before it got too heavy. As we left, directly opposite we spotted a chestnut stuck in a power line area, so Fran and Bob opened the fence up so he could find his way out.

Moving on we entered this massive forest and didn’t see horses for what felt like hours. We took various paths and eventually found them in a little valley area where the grass was sparse. The strange was we’d driven past areas with loads of grass, yet no horses! In this area we saw 3 young studs. It was a lovely spot for pictures and created a lovely background with beautiful light. I’m glad they played ball and posed as some of my favourite images come from this area.

Considering the amount of miles we put it, we saw very few horses. It’s funny how they are getting culled because ‘there’s too many’. From about 2pm-5pm we saw none. We even went off-roading up this steep hill, (“Hold onto your hats people” was Fran’s Quote), which was a little hairy, but the view was fantastic.

After a long day I was dropped back at the hotel and rang a Sarah whom moved out here 10 years ago from London. It was recommended I get in touch with her by Bob and Fran so I did that this evening and ended up going out to dinner with her and her family. It was a lovely meal and really nice to eat with people instead of alone.

 

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Canada Travel Diary: Day 6 – 05/04/15

My time is slowly coming to an end here, and I don’t want it to. I am really enjoying myself despite the snow and cold. It’s so peaceful out here.

This morning I went for a swim in the hotels pool (I’m not on holiday I promise). It was lovely, I haven’t swum in years and despite me thinking I’ve forgotten how to swim, I still can. Though I am much weaker than I used to be when I was younger. A bonus was I had the pool all to myself too.

On arriving at WHOAS facility’s I pitched in with some chores, cleaning pens and leading the rescue wildies to water before heading out with Gregg.

On the trip out we headed to Bearberry, Ghost and Ya Ha Tinder where I saw this incredible frozen waterfall with a plunge pool at the bottom, it was a challenge to reach but very rewarding it was stunning!

Saw 17 horses in total today and loads of hawks. I had the pleasure of seeing my first elk too. The mountains are huge and vast covered in an array of green conifers, it really is something else.

The recent snowfall meant lots of fresh tracks of wolves etc too!

 

Canada Travel Diary: Day 5– 04/04/15

“WAIT!”

“STOP!”

“COME BACK!”

The dust kicks up as I sprint frantically through the light brown smog. I scream at the top of my lungs trying to get their attention, waving my arms like a crazed madman. My heart is pumping and my lungs clench under the cold midday air. My throat feels raspy; it hurts. My legs soon tire, and I stand alone, teary-eyed and exhausted. The sound of the engine soon dissipates as it rounds a bend, leaving a falling cloud of dust in its wake.

My last cry for help “Don’t leave me……”

My throat catches, and I feel the cool shiver of sorrow bubble inside.” Don’t cry you idiot, that’s not going to help things. ”

But the truth is I’m scared.

Very scared.

I didn’t come on this trip to be a lone survivor in desolate plains of the Canadian wilderness.

Clutching tightly onto my camera, a million terrible scenarios run through mind. I try to think clearly, of the next course of action when an emergency happens. It’s a difficult thing to do when you’re on the brink of letting your emotions take hold, and turn you into a small ball of a teary mess.

Great, my water’s in my bag…which is now hurtling away in the opposite direction. Talk about icing on the cake.

I start walking. I’ve just been stranded in a Canadian wood, populated by bears, wolves and mountain lions. Never mind what I said in my last post about bear attacks being rare, my mind is nowhere near at ease.

What happens if one attacks?

And eats me?

All the evidence is hidden…..apart from my camera, my shoes and probably some smelly socks!

It’s the middle of the day and the sun is still high in the sky. Luckily, the human eating mammals should be sleeping. SHOULD.

I glance around nervously as I walk; I am a lone female with no survival skills what’s so ever. I don’t even know how to light a fire, let alone make one.

Fact is, sometimes people lost in the wilderness never make it out.

What are you supposed to do? Stop and calm down. Your gut reaction is to panic and when fear or panic rules your mind, it only works against you. The thing is, if people know you’re out in the wilderness and missing, eventually someone will come looking. By moving around you make it harder for the rescue party.

So what did I do? Carry on walking.

I look down at my dirty boots as I scrape their thick rubber bottom against the dry sandy road. Suddenly the silence is broken, and no it is not me whaling like a lost infant. It’s them!

Two grinning faces appear behind the dashboard of the jeep. At this point I don’t even care if it was a joke; I’m just so relieved they’re here!  I am welcomed with the sound of laughter as I clamber into the backseat. I am not impressed at this point, but the over whelming joy of not having to spend the night in the woods allows me to join in with the laughter.

That was a close one…

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One of my favourites

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‘Portero’

 

On Location: Drumburgh Moss

For one of my final year university modules we have to do an On Location project. I have chosen to do mine on the pros and cons of grazing feral ponies on nature reserves and for this I am visiting Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve in Drumburgh, Cumbria where eight Exmoor ponies roam and graze.

I haven’t seen 5am for a while, but it sure is a tough wake up when it’s dark and cold out. I pushed through getting ready in record time to leave for the bus. Stepping outside I was greeted by a thick fog, covering me like a blanket along with the bitter cold. ‘Gee whizz’ I muttered. Setting off at a brisk walk, I soon warmed up admiring the fog as I went hoping it would stick around until sunrise.

I stepped off the bus at Drumburgh missing the warmth already; I set off down the lane. The droning of the cows drowned out the twitter of the birds I was straining to hear. Not only could I hear them making a racket the smell of cow was overpowering. As I reached the reserve entrance I glanced across a field, a thin layer of mist smothered the ground; the sky had become pink like a sea of cotton candy.

I decided before looking for the ponies, I would have a gander inside the fenced area of the nature reserve where the raised mire is. It was beautiful, from the reflections in the water to the mist rolling off and onto the vegetation to the sparkling water drops, the cob webs twinkled as the orange fireball rose. It was time to move on and get those foggy morning shots I so desired.

No sooner had I rounded the corner I could make out the ponies, clouded in the swirling vapour. As I approached they raised their heads high, their gaze watched my every move checking that I was not a predator. As I neared I started to snap away, the dew laden grass glittered. One watched and posed away, the other two disinterested carried on munching away. He became inquisitive by the noise of my camera and started to approach but in doing this, 4 horses charged out of a little wood behind me. I hadn’t even noticed they were there, only the other two on the opposite side of the path to me. On they cantered towards me, nostrils flared, snorting and prancing. ‘Oh boy, I don’t want to get caught up in this’ I thought. I backed away slowly, making sure I wasn’t going to be stuck in the middle of them, they stopped, observed and one brave pony approaches, a slight wild look in his eye. ‘Steadddy’ I murmured. His ears twitched, slowly he walks on. I moved my arm slightly; he jumps back, spins and runs. Snorting he tries again whilst two others fight just to the left of me, kicking and rearing at each other. This is not the position I want to be in. I edge to my right, slowly making way to give myself a good distance between them again. The inquisitive one follows me, I stop, he stops. Slowly I turn take some pictures, he breathes out, adding to the fog. Shoving his nose towards to the camera lens he sniffs it, deciding I am no threat, he wanders back to his herd. I stand and watch, behind me the golden light softly caressed the land.

The herd move around splitting into their groups of 4, a 3 and a lone one. I think to myself, now then if they would kindly like to stand over there in the golden light it would be beautiful, like the picture I hoped to achieve. What happened next was magical. One pony wandered straight past me, followed by another into the pale orange hue. I stood and gawped. I couldn’t believe it. I snapped away frantically not wanting to miss my chance, in the doing of this, I was joined by a pony stood at my side, looking on he sighed, and nudged me. When I didn’t respond to this he took to grabbing my camera bag between his teeth and pulling backwards, he soon lost interest when this didn’t get a response either and walking into the light.

I don’t know what it is with these ponies, but seemed to love starting a fight right in front of me. For the second time this day I had a pair squeal and rear up at each other. I left them all too it for about half an hour to look around the rest of the reserve before heading back, taking some more photos of the ponies to pass some time before heading to the bus.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday, I took over 700…..and have somehow got to pick ones out for the magazine article and for prints. Fun and games, but please let me know what you think :).

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Update

First off, apologies for the lack of posts. I keep putting it off, as I like to just upload a picture each time, but it seems I only have about 5% of storage space available (and tons of photos to share) which = to me not knowing how to go about it.

I have also been busy at work, going on holiday to Wales (where I saw dolphins and Barn owls!).

Also at work I have been taking pictures for the stable doors where the horse has a profile and a headshot picture.

You can see the images here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.772889506095192.1073741838.191970274187121&type=1&l=32720f29db

On Friday I also went to the Global Champions Tour at Horse Guards, London so have tons of pictures from that!