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Sasktel Cabin Country Interview

Updated: Sep 25

Are you a SaskTel customer?


Got a mobile with you folks, yes.


How long have you been a photographer?

I bought my first DSLR in 2015 before moving North. I was self taught aside from bouncing ideas off a few friends that were also photographers. In 2016 I joined the instagram community and it was actually a huge catalyst in my progression as an artist.



Where are you from in Saskatchewan? Were you born and raised here?


Queen City born and raised! I spent most of my summers at Katepwa Lake as a kid. I’ve been living in the greater Prince Albert area since I went to college for Integrated Resource Management and GIS in 2015.


What has been the most memorable lake trip you took in Saskatchewan? What made it memorable? i.e.; you were with good company, the location was beautiful, you saw wildlife, something unexpected happened, etc.


In July 2017 I went with a group of friends from college to Nut Point on La Ronge Lake. We used a few small boats to ferry supplies in from Wadin Bay. The weather was spectacular, uncanny even. The massive lake was glass and it was above 25 C every day. We went cliff jumping in Cambell Channel and day hikes on the Nut Point trail, which our campsite marked the end of.



The precambrian shield of the area juts aggressively out of the shoreline creating unlimited formations to explore. At the end of the day, the sun set behind the trees across the bay, bathing us in orange. It never went far enough below the horizon to admit stars in the western sky. Somehow the northern lights danced right above the orange glow while a full moon threw even more light on our paradise.




To wrap up the trip we bought inflatables at the coop and headed a half hour south east to the Nipekamew sand cliffs. We parked all but one truck at the highway and hiked up river to begin our float, shoulders sore from hauling mesh bags full of ice cold beer. The trail tracked the west side of the meandering river through a wide open stand of mature jack pine.



Between the boles we glimpsed the towering hoodoos along the east bank that give the area its name. The float is only 30 to 45 minutes long.

To break it up we stopped in the shade of the bleach - white monoliths and splashed in the muddy water.



As we emerged at the bridge, hordes of horseflies began pecking away at our tenderized flesh. Our goodbyes were hastened as we kept the things at bay and deflated our ten dollar floaties enough to jam into hatchbacks. From the bridge the convoy disintegrated, members returning to work east, north and south.


If you had to name your top 3 lake spots in the province, what would they be? (If 3 is too many, even 1 or 2 is great)


La Ronge is my favourite for exploring by power boat. Over 3000 islands are nestled inside a shoreline of mature conifers that resembles a fortress in dwindling daylight hours. Even on a windy day, glassy water can be found in channels between islands, and the view changes around every bend. Hunter’s Bay still hosts the quality fishing La Ronge was notorious for in the nineties.

My favourite beach is right here at home: Lower Fishing Lake in the Narrow Hills. It is generally really quiet and the volleyball court is absolutely mint. The trees are a composition of mature black and white spruce.



Glacial formed ridges called eskers wrap the shoreline. They are blanketed in pine and aspen which makes for a nice medley in the fall when the leaves change. Go to Candle if you like crowds, you won’t find them here.



For paddling, hiking and backcountry camping, the gem lakes can not be bested. Each one portrays a different inky colour reminiscent of lakes found in the mountains to the west. Dramatic hills hem in the lakes completely sheltering the water from the wind. None of the lakes are larger than 30 hectares. Every species of stocked trout can be found in these lakes, and monsters can be spotted in water that showcases over twenty feet of visibility with the right lighting.



Portages are short and sweet. The longest one is an easy 100 feet on a mosquito filled day. An extremely up and down hiking trail forms loops between the lakes. Shady trail sides are jam packed with feather moss, Labrador tea, blueberries and club mosses that form a miniature forest over the moss. The only downside to these lakes is they are well known and prone to being busy on weekends and even weekdays in July and August. The first come - first serve campsites are often full. The lack of cell service in the area makes it difficult to change plans with party members in separate vehicles.




What is your favourite remote/off the grid lake to visit?


I can’t say I have a favourite because I don’t believe

I’ve visited enough to be an authority on the matter. If I did have one I would not share its location. :)


What are your must-have essentials to bring when going out to the lake?


In a boat don’t overlook basic essentials! A good length of rope, tools for quick repairs and spare parts go a long way! Extra recoil rope, spark plugs, hose clamps, extra fuel line and bulb could save you a lot of paddling and waiting! Tell someone where you’re going and have satellite communications if you can afford it. Bring paddles that are a proper length. Might as well be ergonomic if you’re going to be moving the titanic across Whiteswan.


A couple recreational things I like to have around are a frisbee (175g regulation weight, don’t be cheap!), 6 or more dice, cards, fishing equipment, paddle craft, and a smile. Tie up all those loose ends at work and home before you head out! Write stuff down that you didn’t have time to do! This one will make the girls groan in disgust but CROCS! They are a lifesaver. So good around pokey shore areas and in the boat. If you are a big hiker they are lightweight, good for river crossings and allow really good ventilation of those blistered, raisin feet after a long day in boots. Spend some money, buy a leatherman (wave ~$100) and a cheap waterproof digital watch with a rubber band and digital display. (ex: casio) don’t take these off, ever. Is this a blog about how to look like a dad at age 25?They are invaluable. Keep a lithium ion jump starter in the car or boat in case no one is around to boost you ($150). Other supplies are a no brainer. Google a quick list if you are new to camping. :)


Is there something you think people don’t know about Saskatchewan when it comes to outdoor adventuring?


I feel like a lot of people give up on winter, or don’t give it a chance in the first place. Considering our winters can stretch to eight months long it is really important to get into a winter hobby, for obvious cabin fever/ winter depression reasons. Due to my hate for man eating insects, I actually like it more than summer. Jumping into it will likely require some degree of investment at the local Fresh Air Experience Store. It’s never as cold as it seems, especially in the boreal forest where shelter from the wind is easy to come by. Just don’t stop moving if you are not at camp and layer down before you sweat up those dry, precious layers! For all the photographers out there, a low winter sun in the north means golden hour ALL DAY LONG and sunrises are never missed due to sleeping in.


What makes getting outside and immersing yourself in nature valuable?


I get anxious halfway through spending a day inside. I also need to spend time outside to fall asleep. I’m a big fan of the views the natural world has to offer. This reflects huge in my instagram gallery. What would your top tip be for keeping summer travel affordable? MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD. Stay on top of organization and food quality in the car. Have a rubbermaid bin for your dry goods, nonperishables, washtub and cookware. Keep the cooler clean and cold. Drain the water regularly and keep meats water tight and at the bottom on top of the ice. Get a cooler that is electric if possible. If you lose the war with the cooler or food organization you are more likely to break down and buy at a restaurant. This knowledge was gained the hard way by living out of my car for weeks at a time.


Are there any apps you use for adventuring purposes that you’d want to mention? Photography apps?


Phone cameras are crazy good already with the in house app. Add a tripod to your phone and take time lapses if you want to get creative. Take a moment before you start recording video to make sure it is in the orientation you want (portrait vs. Landscape). Try getting low or placing subjects in the foreground to make your content more interesting. Note where the sun is. It should be directly behind you (mind your shadow!) or beside you. Never shoot straight into the sun unless you are specifically going for that effect. Lastly hold the phone steady no matter how exciting your subject is. Use the grid on the display to keep it level! Don’t zoom for pictures. This is the same as cropping and reduces quality. Stand closer to your subject! All of this will help to better preserve the memory and save all the people you force to watch it unnecessary suffering.

For any nature buffs in the crowd this is for you! I use offline bird identification apps to verify birds calls or visual identifications. My favourite free one is Merlin, and iBird Pro is slightly more user friendly but a little pricey at $20.

Avenza maps effectively turns your phone into a Garmin. You need to download free or paid maps of the area you are going to in order for this to work. This is a fairly intricate app and I suggest researching how to use it before you take it into the field. I have tried many similar apps, but this one is in a league of its own.


Do you have any bug spray recommendations? (Weird question I know, but some people do have their own natural recipe secrets/hacks!)


I’m not a fan of bug spray. I find it only works for twenty minutes or not at all if I am sweating and I can literally feel the deet being harmful to my skin. That being said I still use it a few times a year when the air is literally choking with mosquitoes. The smartest thing to do is understand their patterns and adjust your activities for it. Dawn and dusk are an absolute no go unless winds are high. Humid, lower temperature days will result in active mosquitoes all day long.

Dry, midday weather over twenty degrees brings forth droves of horseflies. Try hanging a dark object higher than your head level, they tend to buzz around the highest point. Dry off quickly or change out a sweaty shirt to avoid bites. They bite way more when your skin is wet. Unless you plan on swimming, wear pants. Try wearing thin moisture wicking hiking pants to help keep cool. Bugs can still bite through it but baggy areas help. If it is cool enough, put on a rain coat, windbreaker, or baggy hoody. They can’t bite through these. To maintain your sanity, have an area like a screen tent where everyone can unwind and get a break from the swatting and itchiness. Appreciate every summer day you don’t get bothered by insects. They are few and far between in lake country.

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© 2016 By Dean Johnson.