Surviving Todagin

Day 33: She Said Yes!

I fell madly in love with Rachael in three days. And it didn’t take long to know that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. So when Rachael traveled north for a short visit, we hiked to a peak on Todagin and I asked if she would marry me. I love you, Rachael. Thank you for making me too happy for words! Camera-trapped proposal pics:

Day 7: Camera Traps

There are many narrow shoots and trails that are perfect for camera traps. The sheep funnel through these passages as they move from the plateau to the cliffs, which serve as safe bedding areas and escape terrain if they are pursued by predators (mainly wolves and grizzlies). The sheep take their own portraits as they pass the automated camera that detects motion.

Day 3: Nettie Wild

In the region for research, filmmaker Nettie Wild decided to join me for a week on Todagin. One of the greatest rewards of working in the region over a number of years has been witnessing the awareness of the area snowball. One project is the spark for another, and the fire spreads. Just a week ago in MEC, I overheard a couple discussing their upcoming trip to the Sacred Headwaters. Four days ago I met another couple in a nearby lodge who were here to explore for the first time. Artist Ann Perodeau is championing a project to have artists across Canada paint images of the Sacred Headwaters. In all four cases, the spark was the Sacred Headwaters book created by Wade Davis and the International League of Conservation Photographers. For me, the spark was Ali Howard’s Skeena swim (the entire 355 miles!) So thank you, Ali, and welcome, Nettie.

Day 2: A Love Affair

What started out as a project to get to the bottom of and raise awareness of land-use plans that didn’t seem to make sense has grown into a love affair. The landscape is spectacular. Its wildlife values are obvious. It is woven throughout the history of local people. And it is accessible. The Todagin Plateau could be a world-class wildlife viewing, hiking and hunting destination. Perched on the edge of the plateau and watching sheep cross a valley as the sun drops, the knowledge that this place is now a mining tenure makes me feel ill.

Day 1: A Return to Todagin

After just over a year, I have returned to Todagin for three months of shooting this wonderful, if at times heartbreaking, story: What is thought to be the largest lambing herd of Stone’s sheep in the world lives on the Todagin Plateau, a kind of prairie heaved into the sky. Recognizing the value of the herd, the BC Government made the herd’s winter habitat a provincial park in 2001, but in 2010 the same government authorized exploratory mining across nearly the entire plateau, which makes up the herd’s summer range.

For the next three months, I will camp on Todagin Mountain to photograph the herd and map its habitat use. You can follow along via my tweets from the mountain (thanks to Iridium), and I will update this journal in batches whenever I hike down for supplies.