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.
It seems like every year come the end of February or early March I get the fishing bug, and suddenly can’t wait to get out on the river. Which is a shame because it’s usually a few months before the weather and the river conditions make it worthwhile.
Starting out at Carburn Park I headed south along the bank all the way down to where Deerfoot Trail crosses over the river. It’s a bit of a hike, and I had only been that way a couple of times before, but had seen both Pileated Woodpeckers and a porcupine in the past so I headed out with high hopes.
The fishing was not very interesting, all of the fishing holes that I had fished in the past had apparently been washed away in the previous years flood. The flood damage itself was likely the most interesting part of the trip. Massive piles of driftwood were stacked up twenty or thirty feet high in the middle of the forest, huge gravel bars stretching out where they didn’t used to be, and logs hung up way up in the treetops. It was somewhat surreal, and also fairly saddening.
Without any of the old fishing holes I never did find a decent place to fish, but eventually stretched out on a sandbar and threw in a line. I was quickly distracted though by a flock of a couple dozen Franklin’s Gulls that flew down and began feeding on a swarm of bugs just a short ways up the river bank.
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.
I headed out early to Kananaskis country to take pictures, and had after a run-in with a Ruffed grouse and a couple of deer, on the Jumpingpound road (Hwy 68?) I headed up along the #40 to the lakes and shooting pictures along the way. Eventually the weather turned and it clouded up and started to drizzle. So I thought I would stop by Bolton Creek Campground where my sister was camping with a couple of friends. I ended up staying the night (there are benefits to keeping all of your camp gear in the trunk of your car).
I woke the next morning to the sound of rain, which cleared up shortly after, so we decided we’d go for a quick hike, and headed out for the Mt. Everest Expedition Trail, which is basically just a 2 kilometer walk to a lookout point over Kananaskis Lakes.
I also spent a bit of time wandering and photographing the shoreline of the lakes and assessing the damage caused by the recent floods . Then after packing up camp I decided I might was well take the long route back down spray lakes trail, where I spotted a Great Blue Heron out on the lake standing on a old rotten tree stump a few metres from shore.
The weather was finally starting to warm up a little, so I headed down to Carburn park to try my hand at some spring fishing, and test out my new 500mm lens. The fishing was entirely uneventful, so I spent most of the time chasing birds around the shoreline.
While camping at Cataract Creek there was a deer that liked to hang out in the meadow behind our site and kept popping up every now and then. There was also no shortage of insects, so I got out my macro lens and played around a little bit.
We were still a bit excited after seeing the bear near Golden. So we thought we’d take a detour and stop at Moraine Lake by Lake Louise (I’ve been trying to get there for three years now). Unfortunately, like usual the road to the lake was still closed.
Feeling unsatisfied we decided to take the slow route back to Banff down the Bow Valley Parkway. We stopped at all the usual scenic spots to take photos. The light was a bit contrasty (hence the HDRs), but it had turned into a nice day, and it was good to get out of the car.
We spotted a couple of really tame Elk, that wandered right down beside us while we were out having a look at a little pond I’ve never noticed before (the name escapes me).
It turned out to be a really beautiful sunset, but we were already on the way back, and anxious to be home before dark, so we didn’t bother stopping.
It was a particularly warm January afternoon, so I thought I’d take a walk and maybe do some fishing at Carburn Park. The fishing wasn’t really happening, but I did get up close with some of the resident White-tailed Deer, and of course the ducks!
It occured to me one morning that I had never been to Dinosaur Provincial Park, so on a whim we jumped in the car and headed out to have a look. It wasn’t very exciting this time of year, with everything dead and dry. As nice as the view was from the top it was hard to enjoy with the icy winter winds blowing around us at 80 kilometres per hour, but at least the sun was out. It was still good to have a look around, do a bit of a hike and just get out of town for the afternoon.
I took a very long drive down through Millarville and up the Maclean Creek Trail into Kananskis Country. From there I went west on Highway #66, continuing on past the winter gates to Powderface Trail and eventually ending up on Sibbald Creek Trail. I try to take this drive at least once every summer, looking for wildlife. After 3 years in a row I think my running count so far is one moose from about 500 metres away (and of course a ton of deer).
After a couple hundred kilometres on gravel roads I think this was the only photo I kept (and it’s a pretty terrible photo, I just like how close it’s standing to the sign).
On a side note I finally got my Macro lens (just in time for winter to start).
I wanted to do some fishing, so I headed out early and made my way up Spray Lakes Trail to Buller Pond. Unfortunately the pond which had been so productive the last time I was there was totally fished out, and I spent more time chasing a frog around than I did fishing.