Dusty Danis in action trying to line up the perfect shot. (Photo submitted/Dusty Danis)

Dusty Danis in action trying to line up the perfect shot. (Photo submitted/Dusty Danis)

Reimagining Kitimat’s trails through video

In Our Valley: Dusty Danis

Kitimat is known for its natural beauty and a local man is doing his part to help show off the beauty through video.

Dusty Danis, 44, was born in Merritt, B.C., before his parents brought him to Kitimat when he was just two years old. The reason for coming is a familiar one as Danis’ dad got a job working with Alcan, and so they arrived in 1980.

The family grew in Kitimat and Danis soon had three brothers. Kitimat for many was all about the outdoors and Danis soon fell in love with the town taking to its natural beauty.

“That’s why I’m still here, I liked growing up here, when I was younger it was different,” said Danis. “I would tell my mom I’m going for a bike ride and then I would ride my bike from the Nechako area, I’d ride down to Alcan Beach or the Anderson Creek Waterfall and we would swim in the pools at the bottom.”

He grew up in the Nechako area first going to Nechako Elementary School before heading off to Mount Elizabeth Secondary School. Around the time when high school hit Danis wouldn’t be spending nearly as much time outdoors as he did when he was younger. He worked for a brief period at Robin’s Donuts as a baker while he was in high school.

The end of high school came and Danis decided it was time to find some work.

“After high school, I left town and moved to Alberta for a couple of years to work on the oil rigs,” said Danis.

After about a year and a half, he began to miss home and he didn’t particularly enjoy the job that he had been doing.

“It was a wake-up call and it was a tough one, I was 18 years old, off to Alberta by myself, didn’t know anybody didn’t do anything and it was hard work and a hard lifestyle which wasn’t for me,” said Danis. “I quickly realized that I didn’t like the camp work and living out of a hotel, I wanted that job where I could go to work and then go home at the end of the day.”

He returned to Kitimat searching for the lifestyle he had in mind. He was a labourer for Kentron Construction for roughly half a year. An old family friend told Danis that the post office was hiring and he worked first inside the post office. Eventually, he got to deliver mail door-to-door.

Danis’ work at the post office would last about three to four years before he once again changed gears and started work at Rio Tinto. After a couple of years with the company he got an opportunity he wouldn’t pass up.

“Through them, they offer an apprenticeship program, anyone that wants an apprenticeship can apply and then you do some testing and then based on what your scores are, it’s either whether they offer you a trade or not,” said Danis.

He jumped on the chance to be a millwright. He describes it as a good move and was thrilled to get the chance to further his career. After many years with the company, Danis would get another opportunity, becoming a maintenance planner. He continues to work with Rio Tinto and it’s a job he enjoys.

“For me with work, it’s all about how your team is and what you make of it. If you got a good team of people and you enjoy your coworkers then it’s a good place to be, and right now I have that,” said Danis.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Danis and his wife, Vanessa Silva, began taking to the trails around Kitimat.

“Covid hit and my wife and daughter and I needed something to do to get us out and about,” said Danis. “So we just started doing some of the trails and then I was amazed by how cool some of these trails were and how easily accessible everything was.”

This sparked another thought, how could he share the sights and experiences with people. Danis purchased a drone and as soon as he saw the view from high up he realized others had to see it too.

“Once I sent the drone up and I was able to look down and around at the scenery that I said wow this is amazing I have to learn how to show this to people,” said Danis.

Danis watched countless videos and used online resources to learn how to film and edit videos. He created his YouTube channel, 4 Seasons Adventure. He also reached out to local photographers to get some tips on capturing the perfect scene.

“When I was first starting, the light is what I wasn’t understanding how impactful that would be,” said Danis.

The went off to the trails almost every weekend exploring what Kitimat had to offer. He wanted to be able to film and get the shots he wanted without slowing down the hike for his family.

“It’s as we’re hiking the trail, I’m either in motion down the trail trying to send the drone up so I can try to get a shot or I’m dropping the GoPro on the ground so I can get a low shot then I’m running back,” said Danis.

They have started expanding outside of Kitimat, heading into the Nass Valley and around Prince Rupert. The family even purchased snowshoes to be able to continue hikes into the winter season.

Danis will get people from his YouTube videos requesting him to go to specific trails or locations to film. He was even able to give the residents of Kitimat another view of a very well-known mountain.

“When I went up the Elizabeth Mountain everyone was amazed, but just because I brought my drone up onto the mountain then they got to see it from a whole different perspective,” said Danis.

Danis, Silva and their daughter continue to hike when they can and during their vacations will try to go somewhere with trails. Recently Danis has also begun to take photos while he films his videos.

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