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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I wanted to take a drive up the Icefields parkway to see if I could find any of the big predators. So I stayed the night at a friends house in Lake Louise, and was up and on the highway before sunrise to see what I could find. Unfortunately the only wildlife I found was a couple of Spruce Grouse and an Osprey, but it was still a nice day for a drive.
We spotted a couple of Elk while driving the Bow Valley Parkway on out way back from Jasper.
We spotted this one hiding behind some bushes on the side of the road eating grass, and had just enough time to snap a couple of photos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We found these guys climbing the cliffs high above the highway between Jasper and Hinton.
We spotted the first bear of our weekend trip to Jasper eating grass in the ditch on the side of Highway #93A.
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.
I took a drive through Banff and up a ways on the Icefields Parkway last April. The weather was not very cooperative on highway 93, but it cleared up enough near banff for a couple of shots, and a bit of a hike through Johnston’s Canyon.
Found a really scenic canal out by Two-Jack Lake on the Minnewanka Loop, and stopped to take some pictures. Not having a wide angle lens, I did the next best thing.. and used photoshop to merge some of the pictures together. Although you can’t tell from the way they’re displayed here, the two long pictures are in the 50 megapixel range, which is pretty big. If you were to print them out at the optimal resolution they would be about 5 feet long.
***Click on an Image for picture viewer***
Pictures from a beautiful summer day on the shores of Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park.
***Click on an Image for picture viewer***
Just some random pics from a drive down powderface trail from Highway #66 (Bragg Creek) to Highway #68 (Sibbald Flats).
I found the Great Blue Heron and Beaver at Sibbald Meadows Pond while I was fishing. Although I knew that they nested in trees, It’s strange to see a bird that big perched way up in the pines.