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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.

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/063014 – Berg Lake Trail – Full Trip.gpx”]

 

 

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
Jasper Camping

Jasper Camping

Spent the weekend camping in Jasper National Park. Saw lots of Black Bears, but no grizzlies. The cubs in the tree would have been a definite highlight, if it wasn’t a total shooting gallery with about a dozen other photographers lined up there in the middle of the road. Weather was really good, which was somewhat unfortunate because it made for a lot of situations with really bad light, ie. the cubs in the tree, and the mother and cub down on the lakeshore. There was a bunch of elk in and around our campsite, and I saw my first baby Elk that still had spots, but wasn’t able to get a shot of it. Overall it was a pretty typical trip to Jasper with lots of driving and a bunch of bears and other wildlife to photograph.

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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Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

  • Distance – Return (Where we decided to turn around) – 8 km
  • Elevation Gain – 389 metres

The trailhead to Wilcox Pass is located on the side of the parkway only a few kilometres south of the Columbia Icefields visitor centre. Being a fairly easy hike its a big draw for all the tourist that visit the centre, making it one of the busiest hikes in Jasper National Park. Even on a cold day in September there was a lot of people on the trail, that and the fact that you can hear the cars on the highway below for most of the hike definitely brings down the enjoyment level, but the views of the mountains and the Icefields and the meadow make it well worth the effort.

The hike starts out climbing through a beautiful old-growth forest. Although only a moderately climb it was definitely made worse by the weight of my 500mm lens, and the fact that I had been driving for the previous four or five hours. Once out of the forest the trail opens up above the tree line with an incredible view of the Athabasca Glacier, the visitor centre, the highway, and all of the towering mountains that surround the area. Eventually the trail leads up into a massive wide open alpine plain that goes on for what looks like a couple of kilometres.

I’m not really sure where the actual trail goes or how far of a hike it’s supposed to be, there seems to be a few different descriptions online, although I did read somewhere that you can hike all the way to Tangle falls (another stopping point on the 93) but then you would need a ride back to the trailhead. On this occasion we basically just hiked up to the alpine plain and kept going until we decided to turn back.

One of the main draws to the pass is the Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep that frequent the area (hence me lugging my long, heavy lens up the mountain). We were not disappointed, and found a group of large healthy adult Big Horned Sheep feeding and drinking at a watering hole out in the open meadow. We stopped and photographed them for a quite a while (the whole time wishing I had dragged my tripod up along with the long lens) before heading back down the way we came.

Did I mention it was cold and extremely windy out in the open….

Overall a great hike, and well worth the effort, I look forward to going back when I have more time to spend exploring the area.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Wilcox Pass, and views of the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Wilcox Pass, and views of the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada

 

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Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

What a great weekend… Karl and I headed out to Jasper on Friday morning making quick time (especially for us) up Highway 93. We stopped briefly for a Mountain Goat on the side of a cliff overlooking the highway, but other than that it was a pretty uneventful drive with cloudy overcast skies not worth photographing.

We made it to the campground relatively early, we had reserved a spot at Whistlers Campground, and on the way in we passed a bunch of Elk with cute little spotted fawns, but were too lazy to change lenses and decided to come back after setting up camp. Big big mistake, we never saw them again.

Later on we had some great success on the Malign Lake Road spotting a bunch of Black Bears, although with overcast skies the light was lacking and faded quickly, but the road was quite and we were able to spend some time photographing them.

The next morning we drove west to Mount Robson and encountered a grizzly on the side of Highway 16, but couldn’t really get into a decent position, until it crossed over the road in front of us. I managed to grab a couple of shots as we passed by on the busy highway, but it was so deep in the ditch that the angle made it almost impossible.

Back at the campground we met up with the Derkowski’s for lunch while they set up camp. After a bit more evening exploring and a ridiculously close encounter on foot with a black bear, we had spotted it from across the lake then parked and walked down to were it was heading and it popped up right in front of us, closer than we had expected.

After that it was dinner time and we feasted on some of the best ever Campfire Chili, and relaxed around the fire enjoying the all you can burn firewood that the campground offers.

The way back was slow with traffic. A washroom break was made amusing by the Parkway’s resident Ravens, and we spotted a beautiful bull Elk with velvet antlers on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff.

 

Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat  on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Jasper – Fox

Jasper – Fox

I thought I would go up to Jasper for the weekend and see how spring was progressing in the mountains. It wasn’t really progressing at all, in fact it was still totally winter for most of the drive up Highway 93. Jasper itself was at least mostly snow free, although all the lakes and ponds were still ice covered. The drive up was completely uneventful apart from the terrible driving conditions at the Columbia Icefields. I did catch a glimpse of a Black Bear but it was long gone into the forest before I could get the car stopped and the camera out.

I had completely given up for the night and was heading back from Maligne Lake when I spotted a fox sitting in the ditch on the side of the road by the turn-off to Maligne Canyon. The last bit of light was disappearing quickly and I did what I could to get a couple of shots in while it wandered along the roadside, stopping occasionally to mark its territory or pull  large disgusting lumps of grey winter fur from it’s tail and hindquarters. I stayed and watched until it was completely dark,  I even shot a few flash photos when it walked right up beside my car. This was the first fox I’ve ever had a chance to photograph, and although the light and scene was horrible and the fox was pretty awful looking because of it’s spring molting, It was a great experience to just watch it going about it’s business.

 

Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Wild Red Fox, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

Bow Valley & Icefields Parkways

Bow Valley & Icefields Parkways

I took a sunrise drive out to the mountains, heading first up the Bow Valley Parkway, and then up to the Icefields Parkway (#93) all the way to Saskatchewan River Crossing with an hour detour down the David Thompson Highway (#11).

The morning started out fantastic, if a little chilly, with great morning light on Castle Mountain, and a nice shiny layer of frost on the grass.

Unfortunately it didn’t last long and by the time I got to the Icefields Parkway it had turned cloudy and overcast and by Bow Lake the roads were shear ice, and there was a few feet of snow in the ditches. Once I headed down from the summit, the roadsides cleared up and I was able to do a bit of walking around. The mountains are not very scenic this time of year with a lot of dead grass and old dirty snow, but sometimes you just have to make due with what you’ve got (in this case it meant a lot of bracketing and HDR in post, to bring out what little colour and detail there was).

Eventually I headed east on the David Thompson Highway, with the idea of going to have a look at Abraham Lake, but I had no idea how far it was to lake and it was so windy out on the Kootenay Plains that I gave up and headed back before I made it there.

This was the first time I had ever driven east on the D.T.H. and I have to say the view of the long straight road leading directly into the distant mountain was pretty impressive.

I spent a fair bit of time wandering around in the mud by the river (below the bridge) at Saskatchewan River Crossing. There is some pretty nice scenery there, but again, everything looks pretty bleak this time of year. I will definitely have to find some time to spend there when the grass is green and the wild-flowers are blooming.

The drive back was a bit touchy with a about a foot of fresh unploughed snow (slush) that had come down at the summit since I had passed by earlier, but at least the ice that was there in the morning had melted.

As far as wildlife goes the day was a complete bust. On the way back I spotted an absolutely massive Elk on the Bow Valley Parkway, but it was gone into the trees by the time I stopped the car, that was the only living creature I saw all day. I did follow some really fresh wolf tracks for a little ways, until I broke through the ice and ended up ankle deep in mud (I think the wolf was following a weasel or something of that sort, whatever it was I didn’t recognize the tracks).

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Icy winter road, Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Icy winter road, Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada – – – Click on this image to find it in my store****

 

Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Frozen Bow lake Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Frozen Bow lake Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Waterfowl lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Waterfowl lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Waterfowl lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Waterfowl lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
 David Thompson Highway, Alberta Canada
David Thompson Highway, Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Saskatchewan River Crossing Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Mountain scenery along the Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Parks Alberta Canada
Jasper – Day 3.

Jasper – Day 3.

On the third day we headed out early for another drive down Maligne Lake Road and again encountered nothing. So after a bit of breakfast in town we hit the highway and made the long slow journey home. This time taking the Icefields Parkway (Hwy. #93), making all the usual stops along the way. Climbing around the ice at Tangle Falls, taking the short hike down to Mistaya Canyon, chasing (not very) wild Ravens around a parking lot, and wandering the shores of Bow and Waterfowl Lakes. Though there wasn’t any wildlife to be seen, it was a good drive home and a nice autumn day to be out in the mountains.

Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Wild Raven
Wild Raven
Waterfowl Lake, Banff Alberta
Waterfowl Lake, Banff Alberta
Bow Lake, Banff Alberta
Bow Lake, Banff Alberta
Lodge at Bow Lake, Banff National Park Alberta.
Jasper – Day 2.

Jasper – Day 2.

On our second day in Jasper we got up for sunrise and headed down to Maligne Lake, (on our last trip most of the wildlife we saw was on the long stretch of road between the town and the lake). We didn’t see much on the drive down, but when we got to the parking lot at the lake there was a couple deer that we had fun chasing around for a few minutes (it was still a bit to dark to get any really good shots though).  After some sunrise photos around the lake shore and on the docks, we spotted what looked like a couple of Moose on the far side of the lake and headed over in the car to investigate. Driving down the boat ramp we were able to confirm that it was in fact a Moose and her young Calf bathing and feeding just off shore. We couldn’t get into a good position in the car and ended up parking and trail-blazing down to the shore (the moose were far to close to the ramp to follow it down). Taking cover behind some garbage bins on the dock we got to spend a few minutes watching while they fed from the lake bottom.

The rest of the day was not very productive at all. I think we literally drove down every single stretch of road in the park, Including one that turned out to be a hiking trail, (but that’s a whole other story). Unfortunately we didn’t see anything, the light wasn’t great, and to be honest we were both pretty exhausted, so we turned in early and spent the afternoon relaxing in the hot tub.

Mule Deer hiding in the tall grass.

 

Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta at Sunrise

 

Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta at Sunrise

 

Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta at Sunrise

 

Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta at Sunrise
Wild Moose feeding in Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta

 

Wild Moose feeding in Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta

 

Wild Moose and Calg feeding in Maligne Lake, Jasper Alberta
Athabasca River, Jasper Alberta

 

Athabasca River, Jasper Alberta

 

Sign on the Dock at Maligne Lake.
One of my favourite shots of the trip it pretty much summed things up… We were a couple weeks too late, and winter was coming!
Jasper – Day 1.

Jasper – Day 1.

A friend and I took a weekend trip to Jasper. We went in hopes of finiding some bears, or rutting elk, but unfortunately we were a week or two late as the bears had moved up into the mountains, and the Elk rut was pretty much at an end.

We thought we would take the scenic route to Jasper (because Hwy #93 is not scenic enough), so getting up early we headed out past Cochrane and then turned north on Highway #40 (a.k.a. highway #734 or Forestry Trunk Road).

Not to much to say about the drive except it was long slow winding gravel road with lots of ups and downs. It was scenic at parts, but mostly treed in so not a whole lot of views. We did see a few moose, including one nice close encounter with a big bull, but that was about it.

Bull Moose

It was still early morning when got to Ram falls and did the short walk down to the viewpoint. The falls were nice, but the early morning shadow and the low water level made them a lot less impressive than I had hoped for. I think I’ll have to go back sometime in the spring when the river is flowing at full capacity.

Ram Falls
Ram Falls

We spotted a Spruce Grouse on the side of the road near the falls and stopped to chase it around for a while. I’m not sure why, but it looked a bit different than other Spruce Grouse I’ve seen. Could be that it was a male, or a male in breeding plumage, or in normal plumage, or maybe just because of the difference in location, I’m really not too sure, but at the time I was convinced that it was a different bird all together.

Spruce Grouse

By the time we got to Nordegg, he had just about had enough of gravel roads, and so decided to change course and take the David Thompson Highway (Hwy #11) west to Saskatchewan Crossing and Highway #93. Originally we had planned to take Highway #40 all the way to Jasper (apparently it goes all the way to Alaska) but the going was a bit too slow. I had also wanted to see Abraham Lake because I know of a professional photographer that raves about it, although looking back I think all his photos I’ve seen are in the winter when it’s frozen over. It was nice, but not overly exceptional under midday sun in the fall, and we only stopped for a few minutes.

Abraham Lake

While passing by the lake we had a run-in with a herd of really nice lookiing Rocky Mountain Sheep on the side of the highway.

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep
Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep at Abraham Lake

Quite possible the highlight of the entire trip was a couple of Mountain Goats that we encountered shortly after turning north on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy. #93). They were right up on the side of the road, and we were able to get riddiculusly close before they attracted too much attention and got frightened away by people chasing them around with cell phones.

Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat

Eventually after about 10 hours on the road we did make it to Jasper, and after resting up a bit we headed back out for a bit of exploring. We ended up doing a short walk and taking pictures of the lake and glacier at Mount Edith Cavell. The glacier and icebergs frozen in the lake were neat to see, but what was really impressive was how it had been a warm autumn day in the town of Jasper, but by the time we made it up all the switch-back to the parking lot at the top of the mountain it was fully winter, complete with ice and snow.

Highway #93 near Jasper
Glacier at Mount Edith Cavell
Ice in the Lake at Mount Edith Cavell

 

Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park

Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park

It was a really cold wet spring in Alberta, which was pretty evident in Jasper. Going into the third week of June It was still cold and rainy and foggy, and the lakes and river between Jasper and Hinton were all flooded right up to the edge of the Highway. But It made good light for taking pictures.

Medicine Lake

 

Black Bears 4,5,6,7, Jasper National Park

Black Bears 4,5,6,7, Jasper National Park

We had an amazing experience with this mother and her three cubs on the side of the road to Maligne Lake. It was just about sunset when we spotted her and started shooting pictures. But then after a few minutes we noticed something moving around in the tree tops and one after another the cubs slowly came down the tree to join her in the grass on the side of the road. It was really amazing how comfortable she was with us being there. At least until a couple of red-necked idiots in a pickup truck stopped by and taunted her untill the hair on the back of her neck was raised, and she took a protective position in front of her cubs. But thankfully they didn’t stay long. Other than that we were alone with them until it got too dark to see.

Mother Bear protecting her cubs

 

The next morning we went back to the same spot, and they were still there. Although this time there was people all over the place.causing a traffic jam in the middle of the road with a bunch of idiots getting out of their vehicles to take pictures with cell phones. These bears must have been really comfortable with people (they got within 5 metres of my car window), because they never ran away, but you could tell the obvious distress in the mother compared to the night before.

Black Bear in a pine

Watching the bears climb around in the branches of a pine tree, and run around wrestling with each other in the grass was pretty amazing to see, especially at such a close distance.

**I’m posting a gallery of photos because there’s too many to post individually, so you need to click on the images to see the full picture.

 

 

Black Bear 3, Jasper National Park

Black Bear 3, Jasper National Park

I have no idea how we spotted this bear (it’s the tiny black dot on the edge of the falls)! But there it was on the far side of Medicine Lake (it was really really far away), walking along the shoreline. When it got to the falls it made a couple attempts to cross and from what we could tell from that distance almost got washed downstream into the lake. Eventually it gave up and headed into the forest probably looking for an easier crossing.

There is a bear there somewhere.

Black Bear 2, Jasper National Park

Black Bear 2, Jasper National Park

We found the second bear of our trip to Jasper on the way to Maligne Lake. It was walking along the shores of Medicine Lake eating dandelions, completely oblivious to us. So we spent about an hour sitting in the pouring rain just watching it walk back and forth gorging itself on flowers.

Black Bear
Black Bear
Elk, Jasper National Park

Elk, Jasper National Park

We spotted a couple of massive Bull Elk on the side of the highway while heading back towards Jasper for some evening photography after an afternoon relaxing at the hotel in Hinton.

 

Bull Elk
Bull Elk on the Highway
Bull Elk
Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Athabasca fall is located at the turnoff to from highway 93 to 93A which is the slower more scenic road that takes you the last little ways into the town of Jasper. The falls were pretty impressive and worth the stop, although the crowds of people were a bit frustrating.

 

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls
Below Athabasca Falls