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Emperor Falls Campground – Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park

Emperor Falls Campground – Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park

  • Emperor Falls campground
    • Distance One Way – 16 km
  • Whole Trip
    • Distance Return – 46 km
    • Elevation Gain – 1028 metres

Mount Robson and the Berg Lake Trail is said to be one of the top backpacking trips in the country. Which in turn means that it also see more visitors than most other trails in the Canadian Rockies. It starts out a nice easy walk through temperate rainforest along the shore of a lake and then a easy climb takes you up into the Valley of a Thousand Falls, where we stopped for lunch. We had set a painfully slow pace on this first part of the hike, which turned out to be a bit of a mistake as a thunderstorm rolled in shortly after lunch and we ended up slugging our way up switchbacks in the pouring rain. Not only did this make for a long afternoon we missed out on some seriously beautiful scenery and opted not to make the side trip to Emperor Falls because of it. Overall the hike was a relatively easy one with a couple of good climbs but nothing too intense and some absolutely amazing scenery. The valley was pretty spectacular despite it being fairly dry time of year (there was not quite a thousand falls). I got a real kick out of the river on the opposite side of the valley running along the the top of a massive cliff, somehow it just seemed unnatural to see river running along that high above the ground.

We camped out at Emperor Campground which was alright, but the trail runs right through the middle of the camp so there was a fair bit of coming and going, and there is basically nothing there but a place to set up tents.

If I was to do it again I would choose to continue on further to one of the other sites. As we found out the next day continuing on to the lake is a easy walk with absolutely no change in elevation, and there is a lot more to see and do further on.

With two glaciers, one of the more impressive mountains you’ll ever see, and of course Berg Lake with actual icebergs floating around (and the sound of them calving off the glacier) was pretty spectacular, despite the cloudy rainy conditions. There is also a handful of other hikes and trails in the area. Which unfortunately we didn’t have time to do next time we’ll have to plan on a few more days to explore the area, and do a bit more research into all the trails before hand. After passing Berg lake, we continued on crossing back into Alberta to Adolphus Lake where we spent some time relaxing on the shore.

The weather finally cleared up in time for our hike out, and we made much better time, and were able to enjoy a bit more of the scenery. While it was a fantastic trip I can’t help but feel between the overcast rainy weather and the lack of time that we only caught a glimpse of all there is to see and do in the area, and I will jump at the chance to go back and do it again.

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American Black Bear feeding on summer grass, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
American Black Bear feeding on summer grass, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Alberta - BC Boundary marker on the Berg Lake Trail
Alberta – BC Boundary marker on the Berg Lake Trail
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Hoary Marmot in a mountain campground in summer
Hoary Marmot in a mountain campground in summer
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Fairmont – British Columbia

Fairmont – British Columbia

I got a really good deal on a week long stay at a place by the Fairmont Hotsprings and headed out for some R&R. I spent the whole day driving out, through Kananaskis and Banff and Kootenay National Parks, stopping first at Gap lake to watch a variety of small songbirds. The weather was beautiful and I had great time exploring the shorelines at various points along the Bow and Kootenay rivers.

Once I got to Fairmont the weather turned rainy and overcast for the next few days, and I spent a lot of time relaxing around the hotel. That’s not to say I didn’t do much, I did a whole lot of driving all over the area. I explored the forestry roads in search of White Swan Lake. Photographed Colombia Lake at sunset. Drove a dirt track on the south side of the river valley halfway to Golden (and then continued on the rest of the way on the highway). Went hiking down to a old gold miners camp along a small creek. Walked around Canal flats where an old canal had been dug between Columbia Lake and the river which is in a different watershed.

I had really been hopeful that I would see some wildlife, but it was a bit of a letdown. The marshes and ponds were strangely devoid of waterfowl (despite it being the annual bird festival in the area). I did spot a black bear about 2 kilometres from the hotel after driving all the way to Golden and back without seeing anything. I had on my wide lens and after it crossed the road in front of my car I watched it from a stand up and scratch its back on a telephone pole while I was fumbling around with my camera, and of course it was gone by the time I got my long lens on.

I spent a lot of time driving up and down some sketchy forestry roads, but apart from a couple of deer and a huge flock of Coots in one of the mountain lakes it was entirely unproductive.

The highlight was an afternoon spent in the reed beds near Canal Flats, which was full of  of Great Blue Herons. The light was pretty crappy so I was excited to go back the next day, but the Heron’s were mostly all gone.

As far as photography goes the way there and back again through Banff and Kananaskis was likely more productive than all the time I spent in BC, but I read an entire book about Coastal Wolves and spent more than a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. So I guess it was a successful trip.

 

 

Banff & Yoho National Park

Banff & Yoho National Park

I hadn’t really planned it, but after contemplating spending the weekend doing chores and cleaning the house I decided a weekend in the mountains was a far more appealing prospect. So I grabbed my gear packed a bag and headed west. My first stop was Bow Valley Provincial Park where I discovered an incredible view of Mount Yamnuska and sat basking in the sun on the shores of the Bow River for a long while, wishing that I had brought my fishing rod along and making a mental note to come back and try my luck on the river someday.

It had been late in the day when I left town and by the time I got to Banff I only had an hour or two of daylight left so I headed up to lake Minnewanka and then Mount Norquay for a look around before settling in to the hotel and a long soak in the hot tub.

Somewhere along the way I decided to give Yoho National Park a try. I think it was actually the hotel brochure that made me realize I had never been to Emerald Lake before, and although I have been to Takakkaw Falls I have never really photographed it.

Dawn’s light would have seen me racing west on the Trans-Canada, had there been any light coming through the heavy layers of overcast clouds that smothered the sunrise. I drove up the winding mountain road to the lake and wandered the shoreline for a little while. It really is a beautiful lake, but I found the effect slightly lessened by the hotel, and it’s residents out jogging around the lakeshore (despite the obscene hour) in bright neon clothes which really frustrated my picture taking. Still it would be worth another stop under better lighting conditions, although I would imagine it gets really crowded in the summer.

Apart from the people staying at the hotel I was the only person out on the road that early and spent a lot of time at the Natural Bridge area on the way back down, as well as chasing a couple of grouse up a tree and stopping in the middle of the road for a couple of wandering Elk.

Eventually I made it to Takakkaw Falls which made me very happy as I’ve been turned backed on a number of other occasions where they close the road for the winter, and I had no idea whether it would be open or not (turns out the road was scheduled to be closed the next day, so I just made it).

I spent a good hour or so crawling around on the rocks at the base of the falls. I had wanted to hike up a little ways, but the spray from the falls had coated all the rocks in a solid sheet of ice. So I had to settle with staying further down on the stream out of range of the spray. Which was probably good because it was plenty cold enough without having to face the falling water.

The weather was getting increasingly worse so I decided to head back a bit early, but couldn’t resist taking the long way up Spray Valley and back down Highway 40 in hopes of finding some wildlife, but apparently all the animals had already gone into hiding, and the drive was pretty uneventful.

Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Banff Townsite in the Rocky Mountains Alberta Canada
Banff Townsite in the Rocky Mountains Alberta Canada
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Scenic Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park, BC
Scenic Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park, BC
Wild juvenile Elk, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Wild juvenile Elk, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Spruce Grouse in Autumn, Yoho National Park
Spruce Grouse in Autumn, Yoho National Park
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Weekend at Mount Robson River Lodge

Weekend at Mount Robson River Lodge

Overlander Falls – Mount Robson Provincial Park

  • Distance – 6 km
  • Height Gain – 70 m

After our hike at Wilcox Pass we continued on our way up to the town of Jasper and then turned west on to the Yellowhead highway making the obligatory stop at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre for some photos and were lucky enough to find the mountain in plain view and not shrouded in clouds (as is the usual case). Continuing on west for a few kilometres we made it to the Mount Robson lodge where we had a cabin booked for the weekend.

The “lodge” consists of a bunch of little cabins off the side of the highway with a campground further down along the rivers edge. I would highly recomend the place, the cabins are small and a bit on the old run down side, and a little bit too close to the highway for my liking. But the area is really beautiful, and with just a short walk you’re down at the rivers edge right in the shadow of Mount Robson.

I don’t really remember the chronological order ot the weekend, but it was a great and relaxing weekend with family and friends.

We took long evening walk down around the campground and river at the lodge. Spent a fair bit of time on the back deck just enjoying the great views of Mount Robson. We had a crock pot going all day, and feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. We spent a night relaxing around the firepit, eating s’mores. We drove down to Valemont for groceries and a walk around the visitor centre and fish spawning park.

We visited the viewing platform of Reargard Falls, a picturesque waterfall that is named for the fact that it’s the farthest point in the river that spawning salmon make on their journey upstream from the ocean (I’ll have to go back someday during spawning season).

We stopped at Overland Falls, which is only a couple of minutes from the road, but then decided to take a walk down a small trail that follows along the top of the river canyon through the dense temperate cedar forest. It was meant as just a bit of a walk, but it was a beautiful day for hiking, cool and damp with the occasional sprinkle of rain which the forest provided more than enough shelter for. So we just kept hiking, enjoying the day until the trail finally ended on a side road that we had driven down earlier in the day and turned back to retrace our steps. Turns out by the time we got back we had done about six kilometres, so I guess it can be called a hike.

We headed down to the river for some late afternoon fishing and a beautiful sunset. Where I caught a nice sized trout on one of those perfect casts where you just know a fish is going to take the fly as soon as it hits the water. We laughed at Tiffany who had to go wading into the river to retrieve the handle of my spin fishing reel that she sent sailing into the water.

Majestic Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Majestic Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Majestic Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Majestic Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Waterfall and river views of the scenic Frasier River, Mount Robson Provicial Park, British Columbia Canada
Waterfall and river views of the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada
Rearguard falls on the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada
Rearguard Falls on the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada
Overlander Falls on the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada
Overlander Falls on the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada
Waterfall and river views of the scenic Frasier River, Mount Robson Provicial Park, British Columbia Canada
Waterfall and river views of the scenic Fraser River, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia Canada

 

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Cranbrook, B.C.

Cranbrook, B.C.

We decided to take a weekend trip down to Cranbrook in British Columbia and although I’m not really sure why we decided to go there it seemed like a good idea at the time. I think the original destination was Kimberly, but when we got into town it was basically empty, so we decided to continue on to Cranbrook. The weekend turned out to be pretty uneventful and we didn’t end up doing a whole lot other than getting lost on some crappy forestry roads, and a really short hike that was supposed to go to a waterfall, but since the trail was washed out and neither of us wanted to get our feet wet, we never got within sight of the actual falls.

We also took a walk around a wetland on the edge of town, and photographed some Grebes and other waterfowl. Overall not very exciting, at least until we got back to Alberta, where we found a couple of young Osprey in a nest on top of a bridge at Castle Mountain in Banff. Although still juvenile they were nearly adult size, and we watched for a long time  while up on the nest, one of them tested out it’s wings, flapping away on the verge of becoming airborne, but never quite achieving liftoff. Further down the parkway we ran into a pair (mother and yearling or two year old cub I think) of Black Bears feeding on berries in front of a mob of people.

[portfolio_slideshow id=5023]

 

Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Kananaskis Drive

Kananaskis Drive

I took a quick drive out to Kananskis Country and Spray Lakes, mostly just to see how much snow was still out there as I was planing a hiking trip the next weekend. I also wanted to do some fishing, and planned too stop by Buller Pond to see if it had been stocked with trout yet.

It was probably a good thing I went, because as it turned out the planned hiking trail was closed to prevent trail erosion during the spring run-off.

I stopped at the pond, but couldn’t see any fish (it’s really shallow and clear so if they were there I should have been able to see them). It turned out that the pond was actually stocked in May as opposed to June as the hatcheries report said it was scheduled to be. So I guess I was already too late for the good fishing.

Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Tofino #9 – Golden Bear

Tofino #9 – Golden Bear

The drive home was for the most part uneventful, we got into Kelowna late, and didn’t have time for anything but a bite to eat and a much needed soak in the hot tub (and it was Monday night of a long weekend so there wasn’t much to do anyway).

The next morning we took our time and got up nice and slow and off to a late start (for the first time of the entire trip). We stopped in Golden for lunch, where we happened to run into a couple of friends who had been out by Kamloops for the weekend (what are the odds).

Shortly after leaving Golden I spotted something on the side of the road, at first glance I thought it might be a bear, but as we got closer I dismised it as the back of some sort of sign. But then just as we passed by it lifted its head and looked right at me. We were on the Trans Canada doing about a 120 km an hours with traffic in front and behind us, so I couldn’t exactly just stop in the middle of the road. After a couple of minutes we finally found a turn off, and I decided I had to go back and see to be sure I wasn’t just seeing things (I had done a lot of driving over the past few days)!

Sure enough when we finally got back there it was, wandering the ditch eating grass and dandelions. As luck would have it, it was actually on the edge of a roadside pull-out, so we were even able to stop and take pictures while it made its way along the ditch.

What really got me, is that between the time I spotted it and the time it disappeared into the forest there was probably 100 cars that drove by and nobody else noticed it, which is somewhat scary considering it was probably only 15 feet from the side of the busy highway.

Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada

 

Tofino #8 – The Rest.

Tofino #8 – The Rest.

By the time we were done fishing the weather was pretty wet, and we were both exhausted. But we did want to try and get a few more pictures in. So we head out of town, eventually ending up at Long Beach (I wanted to go look for birds at the mud flats, but we never found access). After walking around the beach for 5 minutes in the pouring rain we finally gave up and called it a day.

The weather never really cleared up, and we were up early the next morning to make the mountainous drive across the island in the pouring rain.

I tried to occupy myself by taking pictures while waiting to board the ferry at Nanaimo, but although the rain had finally stopped, the sky and the view were pretty awful. But at least the seagulls kept me entertained.

On another note – Wolves, and River Otters, were at the very top of my list of things I wanted to see while in Tofino.

I did actually see them both. The wolf I spotted crossing the road only a few kilometres  from town, while on our way to Long Beach. We came around the corner just in time to catch it darting into the forest, I only saw the back three quarters of it, but I’m 85% sure it was a wolf and not a dog (I never saw it’s face, so I can’t be 100% sure).

The Otter I saw while eating dinner on our second night there. The restaurant was an L shape on stilts that reached out over the water. So from where we were sitting you could see the diners on the other side of the restaurant. We noticed there was a bunch of them standing up against the window looking at something underneath us. So I stood up and looked down the window just in time to see the tail of an Otter break the surface as it dove down and disappeared below. That was all I saw of it. Which was almost worse than not seeing it at all (that goes for the wolf as well).

The next day I was talking to the fishing guide about Otters, and he said that one had sneaked up on to the docks the day before (probably when I spotted it), and had stolen a 20lbs salmon from a fishing charter that just come in. Dragging the fish off the dock and into the water before the guide could stop him. I thought that was really funny, but apparently he didn’t, and neither did the other guide, or the person who had caught the fish.

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park in the rain
Long Beach in the rain
View from the Ferry Dock at Nanaimo BC
View from the Ferry Dock at Nanaimo
Sea Gull in Flight over the ocean
Sea Gull in Flight over the ocean
Sea Gull in Flight over the ocean
BC Ferry
View from the Ferry Dock at Nanaimo
View from the Ferry Dock at Nanaimo
Lighthouse on an Island off the coast of Vancouver Island
Oceanliner in at shipping dock in the pacific ocean Vancouver British Columbia

 

Tofino #7 – Fishing

Tofino #7 – Fishing

One of the main reasons that we chose to go to Tofino was because we wanted to do some ocean fishing. We had booked a 6 hour half day charter through Tofino Fish Guides, (http://www.tofinofishguides.com/) to take us out on our second morning.

The guide was great, with a really nice boat, and as an added surprise he dropped off a crab trap on the way out, and by the time we headed back to town we were able to pull out a couple of Dungeness Crabs.

The morning was cold and cloudy, with nice calm water to start out, but after a while on the boat the wind picked up, and the water got pretty rough, and it started raining. Which made for a long, cold, wet, trip.

Other than that it was a fantastic morning, with all of us making our catch limit of Chinook Salmon, as well an extra Cod of some sort. Although I still think flyfishing is a lot more fun, it is pretty exciting to reel in a 20 lbs salmon from a couple hundred feet down.

Our total catch for boat was six Chinook Salmon and one Cod, equalling about 100lbs after they had been gutted (We came home with about 70lbs between the two of us). As well as the two Crabs (we caught a lot more crabs than that, but you can’t keep females or little ones, so only two of them made the cut).

After getting back to shore the guide quickly gutted the fish (feeding the guts to the resident sea lion that was hanging out at the docks). Then we took them up the dock to the packers, where they cut, vacuum sealed, flash froze, and had them ready for pick up the next morning (they also cut and steamed the crabs for us).

Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go again, although it seems a bit pricey, the amount of fish we brought back easily paid for the charter, if not two or three times over. It’s just too bad I don’t really like fish. Although the high quality of the fish is pretty obvious, and it was frozen only a couple hours after catching it, so I know its sushi grade (I think I’ve eaten more raw than cooked so far).

Fresh caught Chinook Salmon
Catch of the day
Catch of the day
Fishing guide gutting a fresh caught Chinook Salmon
Dungeness Crab in a boat

 

Crab Trap
Crab Trap

Tofino British Columbia Canada, from the ocean
Tofino British Columbia
Ocean Barge


View 2012-05-20 06:49 in a larger map

Tofino #6 – Tidal Pools

Tofino #6 – Tidal Pools

After spending all morning on the water, we picked up lunch at a great little fish shack next door to the whale centre. If you’re ever in Tofino you need to stop in and try the fish tacos, and clam chowder, it was by far the best I’ve ever had.

After relaxing for a bit, we headed to the beach at low tide to do some exploring along the beach and rocky outcroppings.

Scenic views of the Pacific Ocean shoreline, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia Canada
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Pacific Mussels
Pacific Mussels
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Tidal Pool Sea Creatures
Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island
Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island
Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island
Bed of Pacific Mussels growing on Rock
Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island
Pacific Coast, Vancouver Island
Black Oystercatcher in flight over the Pacific Ocean
Fern shoots growing out of the forest floor
Lighthouse on a island in the pacific ocean

 

Tofino #5 – Whales

Tofino #5 – Whales

After returning from bear watching, we only had about a half hour for a quick breakfast before we were back out on the dock climbing aboard a different larger boat to do some whale watching.

As with the bear watching tour we had booked in advance with the Whale Centre (http://www.tofinowhalecentre.com/). But unlike the previous trip this one was booked full with at least a dozen people. And completely lacking the intimacy  of the first one, it had the real feel of a tourist trap (which I fully admit it is).

After a long fast run out into the open ocean, the guide turned south and headed back toward shore to meet up with a couple other boats that had spotted whales. We were only a couple hundred metres off the beach we had stopped at the day before when we first spotted a Grey Whale, it’s blow hole, and bumpy spine breaking the surface as it came up for air between dives.

We saw quite a few more whales before the trip was done, but never anything more than a puff of air and the rounding back as they prepaired to dive. Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty neat to see, but they weren’t doing anything really exciting on this trip. By the end of it I was more intrigued by the sea birds and sea lions than the whales. But I’m sure had we seen Humpbacks breaching and throwing up their tails it would be a whole different story.

The guide also took us around a large rock sticking out of the water that was covered in Sea Lions basking in the sun, and had a large Bald Eagle perched on top.

Although it wasn’t very exciting it’s always great to get out in a boat on the ocean, and given the chance I would definitely go again, more in hopes of what I could see than what I experienced on this trip.

Grey Whale

 

Grey Whale

 

Sea Lions

 

Sea Lions

 

Bald Eagle on Rocks

 

Sea Lions

 

Sea Lions

 

Sea Lions
Sea Lions

 

Grey Whale – Adult and Pup.

 

Grey Whale

 

Red-neck Phalaropes

 

Cormorant flying over the Pacific Ocean

 

View Tofino Tours 2012-05-19 07:34 in a larger map
Map contains both Bear and Whale watching tours. The Whale route is off shore in the open ocean.

 

Tofino #4 – Bears!

Tofino #4 – Bears!

The highlight of the entire trip was without a doubt the bear watching tour that we took on our first morning in Tofino.

After (trying to get) a few hours sleep, we were up early the next morning and walked a couple of blocks to the Whale Centre, (http://www.tofinowhalecentre.com/) a fantastic outfit that we booked both our whale watching and bear watching tours through. After suiting up in  big read survival suits we headed down to the docks on  to the boat and out into the water. The idea of the bear watching tour is to head up river (or inlet or whatever it’s called I’m still not sure), during low tide when the bears come down to scour the shoreline for fish and crabs that are trapped in the rocks by the retreating tide.

I doubt we were out more than a kilometre or two when the guide pulled the boat off to the side laughing (he said he really didn’t expect to see a bear so soon), and pointed out a single black bear standing on the shore. We watched and took photos while it ate sea grass and the guide explained that they eat the grass, not for the nurishment, but because its so acidic that it raises the stomach ph. and enables them to be able to eat and digest whole crabs, shell and all. Another larger tour boat joined us after a while and frightened the bear into the trees, so we headed back out onto the water.

Following the channel upstream we eventually passed a large pen in the water (the first of many), which he told us was a Salmon farm, that particular one housing about 400,000 fish.

It was pretty appearent that the guide knew exactly where he was headed when we pulled into a little cove, and there on the shore was a mother Black Bear and a three really little cubs (he said he had spotted them there the day before).

We watched for a long while while the mother sifted through the rocks looking for food, and the cubs ran around playing amongst the rocks and whining at there mother (at one point she took them all up into the trees to nurse the cubs).

The boat we were on was really small, with seating for probably only 6 people, and other than the guide it was just me and Karl, and a young Asian woman who didn’t say a single word the entire trip but let out a giggle while watching the cubs wrestling on the shore. We watched for quite a while, the bears perfectly comfortable with out presence, going about their natural business, until again, another larger boat came by and scared them off.

After loosing the other boat, we headed back out watching the shorelines until we spotted another pair of bears, this time a mother and her yearling cub. We pulled right up onto the shore and watched as they worked their way efficiently down the shoreline turning over massive rocks one after another in the search for food.

The girl with us let out a gasp as the mother bear crossed in front of us, ducking under and rubbing against the bow of the boat, less than a metre and a half from where Karl and I sat at the front of the boat (we could easily have leaned forward, reached out, and touched her without leaving our seats). Eventually we moved on from there, leaving the bears to themselves.

While we were cruising the shoreline I asked the guide about eagles, because I was surprised we hadn’t seen any yet. I was just curious as to whether they were only there at certain times of the year, but he asured me that wasn’t the case, and about 30 seconds later one passed overhead.

Before we were done we saw another group of three bears (a mother and two yearlings, I think), as well as a couple of Bald Eagles perched up in the tree tops.

The outfit (http://www.tofinowhalecentre.com/) I would highly recomend to anybody, the small quiet boat let us get up nice and close without stressing out the bears, and the local native guide was particularily great, he was friendly and knowledgable, and you could tell he had a deep respect for the animals, and was enjoying himself almost as much as us, (his native chanting to himself while he drove the boat really helped set the mood).

The final count at the end of the morning was 10 bears, and a couple of Bald Eagles, even the guide was really impressed with our success and kept us out a bit longer than he should have.

Unfortunately we never saw any wolves or sea otters which I was really hoping to see, but overall the trip was absolutely amazing. And had we not been booked up for the next morning we both easily would have signed up for another tour.

Although I got some good pictures, the quality could have been better, it was still early morning, and pretty cloudy, so there wasn’t a whole lot of light. Between the 1.4 teleconverter I was using and the movement of the boat, even at 1000 ISO I still couldn’t get the high shutter speeds necessary, and so they didn’t turn out as sharp as I would have liked.

 

Coastal Black Bear
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cub
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cub
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bear – see the crab in her paws
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Salmon fish farm with some type of Grebe (I think) in the foreground.
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bear paw….. It was that close!
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Bald Eagle perched in a tree
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle perched on a tree, British Columbia Canada


View Tofino Tours 2012-05-19 07:34 in a larger map

Map shows the track of both Bear and Whale watching tours, the bear trip is the inland portion.

Tofino #3 – Rainforest & Steller’s Jay

Tofino #3 – Rainforest & Steller’s Jay

The hundred or so kilometres on the Pacific Rim Highway, (#4) from Port Alberni to the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Pacific Rim National Park is slow and winding, and immensely beautiful. Unfortunately we had gotten a late start, and the drive between Victoria, and Nanimo was a lot longer and slower than we had expected. So we were in a hurry to get to our destination, and didn’t take the time to enjoy it as much as we could have (I’m sure given the time, I could easily spend a day or two taking photos and exploring this stretch of road).

Once we finally hit the coast and turned north towards Tofino and into the National Park we relaxed a little, stopping at the first beach access (Wickaninnish Beach) we could find.

We took a quick walk down through the sand and got our first real view of the open Pacific ocean. Then we left, the wind coming off the ocean was so strong and cold that it really wasn’t very enjoyable.

The next stop that caught our attention was a Temperate Rainforest interpretive trail and we thought we could use a bit of a walk (it was also out of the wind). The trail was an old wooden, rotting boardwalk raised up above the ground, with (unsafe) stairs climbing up and down all over the place. A nice short walk, the amount of vegetation was pretty astounding. The undergrowth was so thick in places I’m pretty sure if you slipped and fell off the boardwalk you would literally just disappear, never to be seen again.

After the walk we were about to climb into the car when we noticed a bright blue bird that neither of us recognized up in a tree at the edge of the parking lot. It turned out to be a Steller’s Jay (a relative of the Blue Jay). Like most of the Jay’s that I’ve encountered it wasn’t very skittish around people, and so we were able to follow it around for a while and get some photos before heading into town.

Wickaninnish Beach, Pacific Rim National Park
Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Temperate Rainforest, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Steller’s Jay on a fallen tree, Pacific Rim National Park
Steller’s Jay on a fallen tree, Pacific Rim National Park
Steller’s Jay on a fallen tree, Pacific Rim National Park
Tofino #2 – Cathedral Grove

Tofino #2 – Cathedral Grove

After breakfast at a busy little diner in downtown Victoria with my cousin and a couple of her friends we headed north up the east coast of the island to Nanimo. This portion of the drive was pretty painful, although nice fast roads in spots, it passes through a bunch of towns full of stop lights, and traffic, and it seemed to take forever. When we finally passed Nanimo and turned west to head across Island, it was a real relief to leave most of the traffic behind.

I had some concerns about this section of the drive, because everyone I talked to about it told me how awful and dangerous the road was, but personally I didn’t think it was bad at all (I think they were remembering when it was still gravel the whole way). Don’t get me wrong, its a narrow winding up and down mountain road, but nothing to really worry about.

On the way we stopped and took a walk around Cathedral Grove, an old-growth forest that the highway runs through the middle of. The age and size of the Douglas Fir, and Red Cedars growing in this ancient forest are pretty amazing, and it was a great place to wander and explore. Pictures really don’t do the size of the trees justice. What I really loved was how lush and green everything was with giant ferns and carpets of moss growing everywhere.

Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
Cathedral Grove, old-growth forest Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada

 

Tofino #1 – Victoria

Tofino #1 – Victoria

A friend and I decided to go out to Tofino to do some fishing, and Whale watching. We left Calgary around sunrise and had a pretty easy and uneventful drive through Kamloops to Vancouver, making good really good time and reaching the ferry terminal a couple hours ahead of schedule.

After spending all day in the car and on the ferry we met up with a friend on the way into  Victoria and headed downtown to have a look around. After a bit of a rain storm, the weather had cleared up nicely, and we ended up going for a bit of a walk around the harbour to stretch our legs, and have a look at all the normal tourist sights. After dinner we headed to my cousins house, who was nice enough to put us up for the night.

After visiting with friends and family, I really wished we had more time to spend in Victoria, I think we could have easily spend the whole week there, and not run out of things to do. I might have to plan another trip out to the Island just for that.

Ocean Views from the Ferry
Ocean Views from the Ferry
Ocean Views from the Ferry
British Columbia Parliament (HDR)
British Columbia Parliament Panorama
British Columbia Parliament
British Columbia Parliament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camping Loon Lake B.C.

Camping Loon Lake B.C.

This was the third time I’ve been camping at Loon Lake. Just north of the US border and west of Fernie B.C., it’s one of the nicest lakes I’ve camped at. One of the things I really like about the lake, is that the area is a little warmer and drier and quite different than where I usually camp. The most noticeable thing is that there are turtles and crayfish in the water, as well as wild blueberries growing on the shoreline, and as the name suggests, a healthy population of Common Loons. On this trip the weather was nice and hot, and the morning fog that formed over the lake at sunrise was absolutely amazing to see.

I took a walk half-way around the lake at sunrise, hoping to get some shots of the loons, but the fog was so thick I couldn’t get a decent shot, and they had moved off to the other side of the lake by the time it began to clear up.

I did manage to get a couple of shots of turtles from the shore, but they don’t do them justice (they have a bright red and orange belly). They are pretty skittish on shore hard to get close to without a boat. Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to risk my camera in a small inflatable dingy.