After one of the first snowfalls of the year the valley trail is slick with ice, but Nathan Forst walks quickly. It’s early in the morning and he’s on a mission after getting off an overnight shift.
All year he has been looking for a bear to photograph; on the way he’s found numerous deer, birds, chipmunks and squirrels but the bears have evaded his lens.
I join Forst, walking up mountains, crossing ski runs and weaving behind homes while we search for bears and other creatures.
Before jumping into wildlife photography at Sun Peaks he worked as a real estate photographer around Vancouver but decided it wasn’t for him.
Now back in the mountains, he hikes up to 20 kilometers every day, sometimes with 45 pounds of equipment, after working overnight shifts at a hotel.
To McGillivray Lake, the peak of Mt. Tod, up runs and through the woods, Forst covers major ground and captures the animals he meets on the way. He shares his photos on social media and his website with the name Moments of Poetry.
As we walk from Mt. Morrissey to Burfield he stops and starts, carefully listening for what might be just off the path. He knows which bushes birds like and where herds of deer live; the patterns are easy to notice when you’re walking for hours.
A self-taught photographer, he is now taking a class to learn to promote and sell his work. But it’s about more than making money.
“It’s the impermanence of life,” said Forst. “Because everything that we see, ourselves included, all fade away. It might be a romantic notion to think that we can capture a moment and hold it in our hands, immortalizing it for posterity, but it’s the closest thing that we have to permanence.”
He said it’s also important to him that there is a record of what was and how he saw it.
“Due to the changing climate, wildlife habitat loss, and overdevelopment, our world is currently going through our sixth great mass extinction. And it is due to human activity. If I can show some wonders to people, introduce a little bit of beauty into their lives, and make them treat nature and the life that surrounds us with a little more respect, a tad more compassion, then I think that is a wonderful accomplishment.”
Above Burfield Dr., we spot a herd of deer grazing on the run Expo and head across the valley. As we approach the animals we move carefully, not wanting to spook them.
Forst often sits for hours in one place waiting for the perfect shot, earning the trust of the animals.
The deer pose for photos and we move on, headed back up towards the village.
Forst will now process and edit the photos before sharing them and making them available on his website.
He said the most important part of getting consistent photos is spending time.
“If somebody is passionate about something then they simply must do it every single day. Passion is wonderful but without action, it’s just a dream.”
And Forst will keep that up himself, hiking through the area, camera in tow, still searching for a bear willing to pose.