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Lost and found: A forgotten camera’s incredible Nahanni adventure

Canoes docked on on the river's edge in the Northwest Territories

Lost and found: A forgotten camera’s incredible Nahanni adventure

Towering canyon walls, an earth-shaking waterfall, sweeping mountain panoramas – there’s no shortage of unbelievable natural wonders inside Nahanni National Park Reserve.

There’s no lost-and-found, either. 

For many travellers, exploring this northern gem is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So if you forget your camera inside the Nahanni, heartbreak follows.  

Walter Ried knows that feeling. Back in 2016 he discovered he’d mistakenly left his camera behind after his cohort of paddlers, led by Black Feather’s skilled guides, had travelled some distance down the South Nahanni River during a three-week trip adventure. 

The worst part? He knew exactly where the camera was: “Sitting on a rock at Flood Creek, a tributary of the upper Nahanni River,” Ried says.

A group poses for a photo on a Black Feather paddling trip in the Northwest Territories

For years, Ried lamented his momentary lapse of attention. But who could blame him, immersed as he was in such stunning wilderness surroundings, with surprising and gorgeous new landscapes around every bend in the river. 

Still, from his home in Ontario, Ried imagined the frozen camera sitting there on that rock during a Northwest Territories winter – and another, and another – lost along with all those prospectors and hunters who wandered into the Nahanni over the centuries never to be heard or seen again.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending.

A couple poses on a river rock ona. Black Feather paddling trip in the Northwest territories

In 2019, guide Jake Fell was leading his own trip down the Nahanni when he stumbled upon a Nikon camera sitting near the shore of the river. He powered it up and scrolled through the images, instantly recognizing a fellow guide. “On it, he saw pictures of [Black Feather guide] Mitch McCambly at Flood Creek, exactly where I had left the camera,” says Ried. 

Black Feather has been offering a variety of guided tours in the park for decades, retaining guides who are not only experts when it comes to safety but also in relaying their enthusiasm and love of these special waters. And, it turns out, experts in returning lost cameras.

Black feather found and returned a lost camera on the canoe trip in the Northwest Territories

When the trip was over, Fell gave the camera to McCambly. “Mitch remembered that I had lost it at Flood Creek and he mailed me that camera,” says Ried. 

Despite the camera spending three winters in the Northwest Territories and being exposed to rain, snow, sun and curious wildlife, Ried says that “after charging the battery, it fired up perfectly!”

Undoubtedly your memories from a Nahanni National Park Reserve adventure, just like Ried’s will last forever. But being able to scroll through your photos once the trip is over - priceless.


Check out the great experiences that Black Feather has to offer here.

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