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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
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.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park

I went out to Banff for my annual February weekend at the timeshare. The weather was icy cold, despite the beautiful clear blue skies. We did a lot of driving around looking for wildlife. The first night there I spotted a bunch of Elk up on tunnel mountain drive and nearly died of hypothermia (ok not really) trying to photograph them. The light was on it’s way out so I had to get out of the car to use my tripod, although I think my shivering negated most of its effects. The next day we spotted a coyote walking down the railroad track off to the side of the Bow Valley Parkway. We made the usual stops at Vermilion Lakes and Castle Mountain. But it was too cold to really do a whole lot and we spent more time in the hot tub and lounging around the hotel than we did out taking pictures.

 

Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Snow covered winter mountain views, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Snow covered winter mountain views, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Coyote in a field of snow, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Coyote in a field of snow, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Sun setting over snow covered forest, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Sun setting over snow covered forest, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
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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Autumn at Elbow Lake

Autumn at Elbow Lake

Another beautiful day at Elbow Lake…

A bit of a hike, a couple of fish. What more can I ask for…

I’ll spare you the details as I’ve covered Elbow Lake a few times already…

Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Elbow Lake area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta Canada

 

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Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Another great drive down Highway 40 and Spray Lakes Trail in Kananaskis Country, with a rather cute Bighorn Sheep near Galatea trailhead, a Moose in the meadows by Mount Shark, and a somewhat ugly Cinnamon Black Bear feeding on berries near the shores of Spray Lake….

 

Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
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
Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

(Pictures are in reverse orders… and it’s far to much of a hassle to rearrange them)

I took a trip down across the border to Glacier National Park in Montana to go camping for the weekend. My original plan was to stay at Many Glaciers, but after a three hour wait at the border, by the time I got there the only site still available backed onto the parking lot for a hotel or grocery store or something like that, so I decided to continued on to glacier. After driving over Logan’s Pass I ended up at Avalanche Campground which turned out to be a really neat area. The campground is in a area of rainforest right next to a grove of large cedars with a boardwalk hiking trail where I spent my first evening wandering around the river and forest (see map below).

I got up stupidly early the next morning and drove back up to the top of the pass in hopes of shooting some pictures. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is it’s not very photogenic from the road, especially in the early morning when sun hasn’t made it up above the mountains and half the range is still in shadow. I almost hit a Mountain Goat with my car coming around one of the really tight corners near the top of the pass, and was able to snap a picture of it on the way day but with its winter fur still being shed it wasn’t a very pretty one.

After failing to get any good pictures up on the pass I thought I would try going the other direction. I ended up doing a lot of driving allover the place following the river out of the park and doing my best to get lost on some terrible gravel roads. I had been told by someone that there was a lot of wildlife in the park, which was my main reason for going down there, but other than the goat on the pass and a Snowshoe Hare in a parking lot I didn’t see a single thing.

Eventually I made it back to camp and feeling a bit defeated decided I had enough driving for the day. The campground I was staying at was also the trailhead for a hike to Avalanche Lake so I thought I would give it a try.

The hike up to the lake was a really nice change from all of the time I had spent in the car over the last couple of days.

The hike is a basic forest trail climbing steadily over the 4 kilometres and gaining about 200 metres in elevation to the mountain lake. The lake was quite beautiful and I was really wishing I had my fishing rod with me as the fish were jumping and surface feeding all over the lake. I didn’t get to stay at the lake nearly as long as I would have liked, but it was evening when I started, and completely dark by the time I got back.

On the way back I decided to go through Waterton in hopes of seeing some wildlife. I was not disappointed. Within a kilometre or two  of crossing the border back into Canada I spotted a moose but didn’t have time to grab my camera, a couple kilometres after that a grizzly crossed the road in front of me, but was gone by the time I got there.

A bit further on I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye and pulled over to have a look. I spent a good ten minutes sitting in my car catching occasional glimpses of movement before I finally figured out what I was seeing. It was huge funny looking bird out in the tall grass, my first Sandhill Crane. Once I figured out it wasn’t a bear I climbed out of the car and went stalking through the grass and bushes to try and get a picture of it. It turned out there was actually two of them, and they move fast, seaming to disappear completely in one place and popping up in another a few moments later. I only manage to get one or two clear shots, but the sighting was enough to make me feel better about the previous lack of wildlife.

Once in the main part of Waterton I drove the Red Rock Canyon Parkway and spent ten minutes watching a cinnamon coloured black bear at a distance, then checked the flats looking for Elk but didn’t spot any. Leaving Waterton I opted for the slower route home through Glenwood so that I could make a quick stop at the windmill farms.

 

Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Chief Mountain
Chief Mountain
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA

 

Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

  • Distance – Return (with some walking along the lakeshore) – 8.1 km
  • Elevation Gain – 227 metres

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Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenicriver views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic river views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA

Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier National Park, Montana

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Random Driving Tour around Glacier National Park and Home to Calgary

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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
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan

Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan

I first read something about the endangered Sage Grouse in Grasslands NP a few years ago… and then I read about the Black Footed Ferrets which had become extinct in the wild, until recently when they were successfully reintroduced into Grasslands NP from captive populations. Then I read about the Golden Eagles that nest in areas of the park, and the Burrowing owls and Prairie Dogs (not to be confused with common ground squirrels) that make their home there. While all of these caught my interest, the truth is I had never been to Saskatchewan and I live too close to have never visited our neighboring province. At about 650 kilometres from Calgary it is a long drive to the park, and I couldn’t really justify the distance until I got a super-telephoto lens, as most of the wildlife in the park are birds or small mammals, and I figured it would pretty much be a waste of time with anything shorter than a 300 or 400mm lens.

Not only is it a long drive, but it’s an extremely uneventful one.  I only stopped once on the drive there, and that was 600 km in and I only stopped to get gas and dinner (knowing it was the last place to fill up the tank before the park). Toward the end of the drive I turned east onto a rather rundown and potholed but still somewhat paved farm road with ponds and sloughs along the ditches that where filled with ducks and waterfowl of all different kinds. I’ve never before seen such abundance, everywhere I looked there were birds in the ponds, and the skies, and the fields, on every tree branch and fence post, it was pretty unbelievable.

The motto of Saskatchewan is  “The land of living skies” I always thought that was in reference to the clouds and big blue wide open skies. But I was wrong, it’s the birds, and although my experience of the province in very limited, I can say its a very suitable motto.

The village at the edge of the park is tiny (there isn’t even a gas station), with little more than a visitor centre (which was closed) and a ‘hotel’ that was nothing more than a house with rooms to rent, and after a quick glance decided tenting in the park was a better option.

The park itself consists of little more than a gravel road running though the open grasslands with a treeless campground on a hilltop in the middle. There were free roaming bison wandering throughout, and the birds were so active that I was stopping every 10 metres to take pictures. I saw my first burrowing owls, the large prairie dog towns, a lone pronghorn, and young bison butting heads and chasing each other around, as well as more small bird than I could count or identify. kingbirds, and mourning doves, and meadowlarks, sparrows of all different design. I almost hit a harrier hawk with my car but it flew off before I could get a decent photo.

Eventually I made it to the campground just as darkness was setting in, and found it completely empty, to say it was a bit eerie is an understatement, but thankfully there was a box of firewood so at least I was able to have a fire.

I was really hoping to try taking some pictures of the night sky and saw the faint glow of northern lights dancing around overhead, but the stars never came out, thick fog and a light dusting of dry snow began to blanketed the campground so I headed off to bed.

I was woken in the middle of the night by the ear piercing yips and howls of coyotes coming from every direction there must have been at least a dozen of them and I was completely surrounded. They were so close that the volumn of there voices hurt my ears and I could hear their footsteps in the tall grass as they circled around my tent. Coyotes don’t frighten me much but it did occur to me that a large pack could become a serious problem. Then I had an idea, and hit the panic button on my car remote, and literally laughed to myself as I heard them scatter, their yips and noises moving quickly away over the side of the hill, before they joined together in a choirs of howls now at a distance.

I woke at sunrise and packed up camp quickly, not sure what my plan was I figured I shouldn’t leave my tent behind just in case. I drove back and forth all morning taking pictures hoping to spot a Sage Grouse or Ferret or Fox, but wasn’t that lucky.

I did spot what I later learned was an American Bittern feeding on insects in a roadside ditch and spent a half hour or so watching the funny looking bird.

Grasslands NP consists of two different areas and I was hoping to visit the second one as well. So when I found a road heading off in that direction I thought I would see where it led. The gravel road quickly turned to a dirt track, and then left the park behind, after a while I started to get nervous, but there was no where to turn around so I kept going, and going, and going.

Two hours later… yes… two extremely nerve-wrecking hours later I finally popped out onto a real gravel road with no idea were I was. Grabbing my gps out of the trunk I turned it on to find out I was literally in the middle of nowhere (If you look at the gps track at the bottom of the page you can see where I was when I turned it on… and how far I now was from the entrance in the southwest corner of the park and access to the campground). I briefly debated continuing on to the eastern park but it was still a long way and with no campground and no Idea what is actually there I was too tired and frustrated to keep exploring, and headed home instead.

Grasslands National Park is an amazing place. Although in all reality I was only in the park for about 12 or 13 hours much of it spent sleeping, I left with a feeling of awe at the place and can’t wait to go back. Next time I will definitely have to plan things a bit better, and probably go later in the year and not alone. Because frankly having an entire National Park to yourself may sound pretty cool (I didn’t see one single other person the whole time in the park), but in all reality it’s kind of creepy.

 

Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
White-tailed deer in open prairies at dawn, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
White-tailed deer in open prairies at dawn, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Baird's Sparrow, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Baird’s Sparrow, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Sharp-Taied Grouse, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Eastern Kingbird, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Eastern Kingbird, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Western Meadowlark, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Western Meadowlark, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Mourning Dove perched on a branch, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Mourning Dove perched on a branch, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Blue-winged Teal in a prairie pond, Alberta Canada
Blue-winged Teal in a prairie pond, Alberta Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
View of the entrance of  Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
View of the entrance of Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada

 

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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
Bow Valley & Banff Elk

Bow Valley & Banff Elk

Bow Valley Provincial Park is a lot bigger than I expected. I’ve driven past the entrance a few hundred times, and did stop in once but only made it as far as the parking lot and information centre before the sun went down. So I think I assumed that was all there was to the park. There is actually a fair bit of road to explore, and a great little picnic area on the shore of the Bow river with a fantastic view of Mount John Laurie (Yamnuska). Which I will most definitely be revisiting with my fly rod come next spring.

I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I could have in Bow Valley because my plan was to drive the Banff Parkway and look for wildlife. Unfortunately once I got into the National Park the weather turned a bit nasty, and after a few hundred kilometres of driving the only animal encounter I had was with a massive bull Elk at the Johnson’s Canyon Parking lot. Which turned out pretty good despite the mob of cell phone tourist chasing the poor thing around.

Other than the Elk there wasn’t much going on for photography, although the sky did clear up a little, and turned into a spectacular sunset. Which I pretty much missed (I had the spot I wanted to photograph, but didn’t make it back there until it was mostly over). I did shoot a few pictures, but wasn’t really happy with the results, I tried to salvage them in post by converting to HDR’s but still couldn’t get the result I wanted.

Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country  Alberta, Canada.
Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada.
Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country  Alberta, Canada.
Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada.
Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country  Alberta, Canada.
Mount Yamnuska, and the Bow River, Kananaskis Country 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
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
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
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Elk Island National Park – The Drive

Elk Island National Park – The Drive

I first heard about Elk Island National park only a couple of years ago (I think it was just a little blurb in Canadian Geographic). They claim to have the highest concentration of hoofed mammals outside of Africa. So needless to say it’s been very high on my list of places to visit. Unfortunately it’s just far enough away that you don’t really want to go there and back in one day (and if you’re going to stay the weekend it’s hard to resist the allure of Jasper and the Rocky Mountains).

After being utterly disappointed by the bison in Waterton, I decided I would have to make the trip to Elk Island if only to get one decent bison picture.

Since I always seem to neglect the prairies in favour of the nearby mountains, I figured I would bypass Highway #2 and take the long way through farmlands and badlands to shoot some pictures on the way (I’ve been trying to get a shot of a fox for years, and still have had no luck finding any, but I thought if I headed out early enough this might be a good chance (it wasn’t)).  I headed out towards Drumheller planning to shoot sunrise at Horseshoe Canyon, but I was a half hour early, the sky was looking particularly boring, there was a construction crew tearing up the parking lot, and it was cold and windy out. I only lasted about 30 seconds out of the car, and didn’t manage to take a single shot. I thought I’d try Horse Thief Canyon a little further up the road, but managed to miss it (or I was on the wrong road, I’m not sure which).

After that I did a lot of driving, and although there was some decent scenery, the roads were mostly narrow and shoulder-less with very few places to pull over for photos.

At one point I spotted something moving far off in a field and shot some pictures but it was so far away I couldn’t even tell what it was until I got home and zoomed in on my computer, It was an antelope  which really surprised me, I didn’t expect them that far north, especially at this time of the year.

Eventually I came upon Driedmeat Lake (really stupid name), and stopped at the outflow to shoot way too many pictures of a flock of gulls and some Lesser Yellowlegs that were hanging out at the bottom of a fishway (whatever a fishway is). I was there probably a half hour taking picture before I actually looked down into the water and noticed that the entire bottom of the creek was covered so thickly with some sort of shrimp like creature that you couldn’t even see the rocks. It was pretty gross, but I guess it explains why the gulls were there.

I stopped for lunch at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park which has a really nice sand beach, but not worth shooting on a cold windy morning. There was a lot of Plovers running up and down the shoreline, but I had left my long lens back at the car and was too lazy to go get it (I parked on the complete wrong side of the lot as far from the lake as possible).

Overall it was a nice day for a drive, but not very productive at all.

 

Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Lesser Yellowlegs feeding on a river spillway
Fishway on Driedmeat Lake, Alberta
Lesser Yellowlegs feeding on a river spillway
Lesser Yellowlegs feeding on a river spillway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Flock of Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Fishway weir on prairie lake Alberta Canada
Fishway weir on prairie lake Alberta Canada
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Gulls over a prairie waterway
Waterton – The Scenery

Waterton – The Scenery

By the time I made it down to Waterton I was in desperate need of some breakfast (the A&W in Alderside doesn’t open until five in the morning, I missed the one in Claresholm, and my route never took me into Fort Macleod). So unfortunately I was stuck wasting my time sitting down to possibly the worst $20 breakfast I’ve ever eaten in my life.

After breakfast I headed to Cameron Lake to shoot some pictures, while the lake was nice,  (apart from the tour bus full of people walking into all my shots), the drive there was a bit of let down with very few places to stop for photos, and poor scenery at the places you could stop. After that I headed up the Red Rock Canyon Parkway, which was pretty great the whole way up to the canyon (although the open meadows where looking pretty dry and brown and windblown). I did a little bit of hiking around the canyon and shot some long exposures of the river (not very long, because I left my ND filter in the car and didn’t want to go back and get it, but long enough to get some motion blur).

I tried shooting some more pictures around the park, but the weather was getting increasingly worse, and by the time I headed down to the lake it was so windy at the hotel that I could hardly open the car door, and almost got blown off the hilltop. To make things worse there were foot high white-caps on the lake, and it was so hazy I couldn’t even see the mountains on the far side.

I had wanted to go for a short hike, but it was just too windy (and I was getting pretty tired), so I just ended up driving all over in and around the park, making it all the way down to the US border, but had little success.

Eventually I decided that It probably wasn’t worth staying the night because the weather forecast wasn’t looking very good, and the weekend crowds were flooding into the park (when I left through gates there was 30 or 40 cars lined up to get in the park). Waterton is not very big, and you could probably drive down every road in the park in little more than an hour, so I figured that by Saturday morning it would be way to crowded for my liking.

By the time I got home I had pretty much been in the car for 16 hours straight (except for maybe an hour spent at the canyon) which made for a pretty painful drive home, but all and all it was a pretty great day!

Scenic Cameron Lake, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Cameron Lake, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Cameron Lake, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Cameron Lake, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Red Rock Canyon Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Waterton – Windfarms

Waterton – Windfarms

It had been a few years since the last time I had been down to Waterton National Park, and I thought it was time for another visit. I had also been wanting to shoot some pictures of the windmills down by Pincher Creek so I thought I’d head down to the park for the morning, and maybe stay the night in Pincher Creek. But then I was talking to my father and he mentioned the wind-farms down by Glenwood (which is closer and on the way to the park).

So anyway, I was up early. Like four in the morning early, and was well out of town before the sky started to lighten. I do a lot of shooting in the mountains, and so I sometimes forget just how incredible a sunrise in the prairies can be. The colours in the sky were phenomenal  but unfortunately I was on the highway with nothing much to photograph during the most dramatic part of the morning.

I did eventually find my way to Glenwood, and caught the last little bit of colour in the skies over the windmills. There was some really great scenery down there with the farms and the prairies and the windmills, and I would have liked to spend a bit more time shooting down there, but I was still in a hurry to get down to the park before all the wildlife retreated for the day.

Sunrise over the prairies
Windmills at Sunrise
Windmills at Sunrise
Windmills at Sunrise
Windmills at Sunrise
Windmills at Sunrise
Prairie Highway at Dawn

 

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

I had to go out to Banff for work to do a delivery to a production company that was filming a movie out there, so I figured that I might as well bring my camera and make an afternoon of it.

And…. It was pretty much a waste of time……..!

I headed up the parkway, shot a couple bad photos at all the usual spots, and finally made it up to Moraine Lake (after years of failed attempts). But by the time I got there it was pretty much dark, a storm was rolling in, and the light and clouds were total garbage, so I climbed up the ‘Rock Pile’ took a few bad photos, and headed back.

Note to self (and any other photographers)…..

If you want to take pictures of Moraine Lake you need to go at sunrise in the early spring so that the sun is in position to give the view the light it deserves. Sunset in the fall is pretty much just a waste of time.

The pictures really were garbage, so I did what any self respecting photographer would do… Made them into HDR’s, and edited the $#!% out of them.

Lefarge Concrete plant
Vermillion Lake
Castle Mountain HDR
Morant’s Curve HDR
Morant’s Curve
Moraine Lake HDR
Moraine Lake HDR B&W
Moraine Lake HDR

 

 

Highwood Pass – The Scenery

Highwood Pass – The Scenery

Every winter the section of Highway 40 from the turnoff to Kananaskis Lakes Trail and… well actually I’m not sure where the closure is on the south side of the road. But suffice to say they close the highway down in the winter (December 1), to accommodate the migration of Big-Horned Sheep.

The road reopens on June 15th, and I like to take a drive around the entire loop of the highway as soon as I can after that. My thinking is that the wildlife won’t all be scared away from the roadside by traffic yet, (although this has never been proven true, and I’ve never actually seen anything but a few sheep on this stretch of road at this time of year).

I got off work early on Wednesday day, and headed down south through Turner Valley and Longview, and west onto Highway 40, into Kananaskis Country. It was a nice day but by the time I got onto Highway 40, there looked like there was a storm coming through, and the wind was blowing so hard I could barely stand up outside.

With all the rain we’ve had this year, the foothills were an unbelievable colour of green, and I stopped for photos a few times along the way before entering Kananaskis country. The wind and weather was worsening, and I was feeling a little exhausted, and unsure it was a good day for a drive, but since it’s a loop I was already committed, and had to press on.

By the time I got to the top of Highwood Pass it was snowing (yes… snowing)! Not to mention there was still about 3 feet of snow in the parking lot of the pass. So I kept on going. Originally I had thought I might hike up to Elbow Lake and do some fishing, but with the snow coming down in the higher elevations, I was sure the hike to the lake was getting snowed or at least rained on.

It wasn’t until I stopped off at a little waterfall at the viewpoint for the Elpoca mountain range, and got out and did a bit of walking and climbing around and shot photos for a while, that I started to feel better.

After that, thinks just kept getting better and better. By the time I got to Buller pond (I still wanted to do some fishing, although there was zero activity on the pond so it never did happen), the wind had stopped completely, the sky had cleared up a bit, and the light was absolutely perfect.

It turned out to be easily one of my best trips into Kananaskis, with great light and beautiful scenery (it’s unusually green out there as well), and multiple bear sighting (but that’s a whole other story).

By the time I got home I had shot over 600 photos.

Waterfall at Elpoca viewpoint 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
Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Buller Pond Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Buller Pond Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Buller Pond Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Buller Pond Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Buller Pond Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain views Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic farmland and oil pump in the Alberta foothills Alberta Canada
Scenic farmland in the foothills Alberta Canada
Waterfall at Elpoca viewpoint Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Waterfall at Elpoca viewpoint Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Waterfall at Elpoca viewpoint 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

 

 

 

 

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 #10 – Banff

Tofino #10 – Banff

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.

Scenic views of Banff National Park Alberta Canada (HDR)
Scenic views of Banff National Park Alberta Canada (HDR)
Wild antlered Elk in a picnic area, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild antlered Elk in a picnic area, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild antlered Elk in a picnic area, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild antlered Elk in a picnic area, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild antlered Elk in a picnic area, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic views of Banff National Park Alberta Canada (HDR)
Scenic views of Banff National Park Alberta Canada (HDR)