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Highway 40 Loop

Highway 40 Loop

Another amazing trip out in Kananaskis Country, I took the entire Highwood loop heading south out of calgary. Shortly after going over the pass I spotted a young grizzly bear on the roadside (almost in the same place as on my previous trip), and spent quite a while photographing it before it wandered off into the trees. By the time I finished with the bear the weather which had started out pretty crappy had blown through, and it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful night.

Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
2013 Flood damage to Highway 40, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Canadian Moose in the mountains in summer, Kananaskis Country Alberta
Wild Canadian Moose in the mountains in summer, Kananaskis Country Alberta
Columbian ground squirrel in summer Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Columbian ground squirrel in summer Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
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.

Mount Yamnuska

Mount Yamnuska

Ravens End – Mount Yamnuska – Mount John Laurie

  • 8 Kilometres Return (more like 7 if you don’t get lost and wander off in the wrong direction)

  • 550 Metre Elevation Gain

After spending the weekend in Banff I had planned to meet up on sunday morning with some friends to go hiking at Mount Yamnuska. I was up early and decided to take a quick drive down the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louis in search of wildlife before meeting up with them. By the time I got to Yamnuska I was way behind schedule and could see by the cars in the parking lot that they had already headed up the trail. I figured I was probably only twenty minutes or so behind them and could likely catch up as they had children with them. But instead I ended up taking a wrong turn and ended up wandering off in the wrong direction for a while (which became rather evident when the trail ended at a barbed-wire fence).

I did finally catch up to them at the top (aka. Raven’s End, aka. the chimney, aka. the point). They had gone on a little bit further past the chimney and I was waiting there when they came back through (wondering if they had come back down and passed by me while I was on the wrong trail).

Yamnuska is basically a staple for hiking around Calgary. I think this was the fourth or fifth time I’ve been up to the chimney. But it is a really good hike with great views looking out east over the prairies. It also has the added advantage of a slightly longer hiking season than a lot of the hikes that are higher up in the mountains.

 

Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills
Scenic Hiking views from the Mount John Laurie area of Kananaskis Country in the Alberta Foothills

 

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Jura Canyon

Jura Canyon

Jura Canyon

  • Distance – Return – 6 km
  • Elevation Gain – 144 metres

I wasn’t overly sure I was feeling up to a hike when I parked my car in front of the cement plant on the side of Highway 1A. The wind was blowing so strong it slammed my car door closed on me as I was trying to get my pack ready, which is never a good sign. But I had been promised it was an easy hike, and that there would be Poutine at the end of it so off I went.

The hike was fairly straight forward following up a dry streambed to the top where it comes out through a narrow rock-walled canyon. Which is apparently a lot of fun in the summer when you can wade in the pools and climb all over the canyon. But in October it was mostly dry and what water there was was icy cold and half frozen. Still we had fun climbing around the canyon walls trying to avoid getting wet.

One of the more interesting parts of the hike was to see not only all of the damage caused by the recent floods, but also to see what they had done to deal with future flooding. The streambed we followed up to the canyon, despite now being completely dry, had apparently flooded quite severely and they had come in with graters and earthmovers and cut a massive channel down the mountainside that could probably hold the entire flow of the Bow River.

The weather had improved quite a lot by the time we got back the cars, so after the obligatory stop in Canmore for poutine I decided to make a quick, although not very productive trip up Highway 40.

Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Moose in a mountain meadow
Wild Moose in a mountain meadow

 

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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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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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Bolton Creek – Camping

Bolton Creek – Camping

We were a bit slow getting out of town and it was mid afternoon by the time we got to the Bolton Creek Campground. The weather was pretty crappy and it was drizzling a little bit so the first thing we did was string a tarp up over the picnic table… Then it rained… and rained… and rained… and we sat for a couple of hours on top of the table under a tarp that leaked like a seive and was too small to cover the benches of the the table, and watched it rain.

Eventually it lessend a little bit and we were able to get the tent and the rest of camp set up before running down to the camp store to buy a new non-leaking much larger tarp.

On the way out of town we had stopped at the grocery store with no particular meal plan, and after a bit of discussion decided that beef stew should be fairly easy in the camp pot, so we bought;

  • one onion
  • two carrots
  • two potatoes
  • one bulb of garlic
  • one pack of stewing beef
  • one bag of mushrooms
  • one carton of Beef Stock

Back at camp we threw it all in the pot over the fire and let it cook nice and slow, realizing a good stew needs to be a bit thicker than just beef stock I toasted up a hot dog bun and crumbled it into the pot. Maybe I was just cold and wet and hungry, but by the time we sat down to eat at about eleven o’clock at night (do to the fact that it took all afternoon to get the fire going in the rain), it was quite possibly the best bowl of stew I’ve ever eaten.

The rest of the trip was entirely uneventful. That being said there is something strangely enjoyable and relaxing to spending an evening with friends while sitting under a tarp in the pouring rain.

Mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Pika at Rawson Lake

Pika at Rawson Lake

Rawson Lake 

  • 8 Kilometres Return
  • 280 Metre Elevation Gain

After my first trip to Rawson Lake back in 2011 (read my previous my more detailed post about the hike here.. http://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=3129), I’ve been wanting to go back for a number of reasons. The first of which was for the pikas. There is a huge talus field running along the south side the lake, and on my previous trip I could hear the high pitched whistles of the small rodents all over the mountain side. Although I know of a couple other places were pikas can be found (there’s a small colony on the way to Elbow Lake), but the one at Rawson Lake is far larger and more populated than most. The pikas are a small animal, and although I’ve been able to get close to some in the past, they are quite small and I was never able to get close enough with my 200 mm lens to satisfy me. So, armed with my 500 mm lens I was looking forward to getting some nice close up shots.

After lugging my heavy lens up to the lake we were not disappointed, they were literally all over place, running back and forth collecting foliage for their winter stores.

The second reason I wanted to go back there was to do some more fishing at such a beautiful mountain lake. That being said I ended up having so much fun photographing the pikas that I never really ended up doing much fishing.

I made two major mistakes on this trip up to the lake. The first was not bringing my tripod, it’s heavy and awkward, and I didn’t want to pack it the 280 metres of elevation up the mountainside to the lake. It would definitely have been worth the effort to bring it as they are fast moving little animals, and with the lake sinking into the shade of the mountain so early the extra stability in low light would have been helpful. The second mistake was to go so late in the day, Mount Sarrail towers so high and close to the west side of the lake that the sun slips behind it so early we didn’t have much time to enjoy the beautiful autumn day.

By the time we got back to the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake, the sun was finally setting for real, and we were able to catch one of the most impressive mountain sunsets I’ve ever seen. Once again, I was left wishing I had brought my tripod.

Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada

 

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/090213 – Rawson Lake.gpx”]

Bolton Creek Kananaskis – Camping

Bolton Creek Kananaskis – Camping

I headed out early to Kananaskis country to take pictures, and had after a run-in with a Ruffed grouse and a couple of deer, on the Jumpingpound road (Hwy 68?) I headed up along the #40 to the lakes and shooting pictures along the way. Eventually the weather turned and it clouded up and started to drizzle. So I thought I would stop by Bolton Creek Campground where my sister was camping with a couple of friends. I ended up staying the night (there are benefits to keeping all of your camp gear in the trunk of your car).

I woke the next morning to the sound of rain, which cleared up shortly after, so we decided we’d go for a quick hike, and headed out for the Mt. Everest Expedition Trail, which is basically just a 2 kilometer walk to a lookout point over Kananaskis Lakes.

I also spent a bit of time wandering and photographing the shoreline of the lakes and assessing the damage caused by the recent floods . Then after packing up camp I decided I might was well take the long route back down spray lakes trail, where I spotted a Great Blue Heron out on the lake standing on a old rotten tree stump a few metres from shore.

 

White-tailed deer in tall summer grass, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
White-tailed deer in tall summer grass, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Ruffed Grouse on a roadside in the foothills, Alberta Canada
Ruffed Grouse on a roadside in the foothills, Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain pond, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain pond, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada
Great Blue Heron wading in a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron on a old tree stump, Spray Lakes, Alberta Canada

 

 

[portfolio_slideshow id=5019]

Frank Lake

Frank Lake

Another evening out at Frank Lake…

I had my first experience with the Common Tern, and they may be one of my new favourite birds, I think I could spend hours watching them hover over the water searching for fish and diving down with a splash to catch them in their beaks.

While the Tern’s didn’t stay around very long there were ample other birds to watch and photograph, including the horrendously ugly baby Coots, and the tiny little Eared Grebe chicks riding around on their mothers backs. For the fist time that I’ve been to Frank Lake the light was better than just mediocre, and by the time the golden hour hit, it was just about the perfect way to spend a summers evening on the prairies.
[portfolio_slideshow id=5015]

Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Gravel backroad through Alberta Farmland at sunset
Gravel backroad through Alberta Farmland at sunset
Black-necked Stilt wading on the shores of a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Black-necked Stilt wading on the shores of a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
American Avocet Alberta Canada
American Avocet Alberta Canada
Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Black-necked Stilt wading on the shores of a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Black-necked Stilt wading on the shores of a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
American White Pelican on a prairie pond Alberta Canada
American White Pelican on a prairie pond Alberta Canada
Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Common Tern hovering in flight over a prairie lake
Alberta farmland under stormy skies at sunset
Alberta farmland under stormy skies at sunset
Brewer's Blackbird on a Barbed wire fence post, Alberta Canada
Brewer’s Blackbird on a Barbed wire fence post, Alberta Canada
Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird on a country road, Alberta Canada
Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird on a country road, Alberta Canada
Marbled Godwit feeding on the shores of a prairie wetland, Alberta Canada
Marbled Godwit feeding on the shores of a prairie wetland, Alberta Canada
Wilson's Phalarope feeding on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Wilson’s Phalarope feeding on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
American Coot feeding young chicks on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
American Coot feeding young chicks on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Ruddy Duck swimming in a prairie pond, Alberta, Canada
Ruddy Duck swimming in a prairie pond, Alberta, Canada
American Coot (Fulica americana)
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Alberta Canada
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Alberta Canada
Eared Grebe with young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Eared Grebe with young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Western Grebe swimming in a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Western Grebe swimming in a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
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

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/062913 – Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana.gpx”]

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

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier N.P. Montana – 06_28_13.gpx”]

 

Random Driving Tour around Glacier National Park and Home to Calgary

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/062913 – Driving – Glacier NP Montana.gpx”]

Springtime in Kananaskis Country

Springtime in Kananaskis Country

I started out in the prairies, watching swallows (which are almost impossible to photography) working on their nest at one of the roadside birdhouses. After that I headed up through Jumpingpound spotting Buffleheads and Goldeneyes in one of the ponds along the way. Next it was a White-Crowned Sparrow (my first), when I stopped to use the washroom at Mount Lorette Ponds.

When I left town the weather was pretty crappy, windy and cloudy, and not very nice, but the further I got into mountains the nicer it got. By the time I made it to the Shark Mountain turn-off on Spray-Lakes trail it was a beautiful spring evening. While there was still snow higher-up, it was great to see the rivers and streams had already thawed and were flowing high with spring melt.

On the return trip I spotted a pair of Grizzlies (mother and cub), walking down highway 40 from what must have been at least a kilometre or two in the distance. Cutting the engine I coasted down the hill doing my best not to spook them, but a winters worth of gravel on the roadway grinding under my tires was enough to scare them off the road before I could get very close. Thankfully I had my long lens and 1.4X on and was able to get some great shots of them crossing the road and climbing over the guard rail.

After leaving the road they climbed down the embankment, and I spent a half hour or so before it got too dark watching them (from a really bad angle) while they fed on new spring growth.

There was an Elk on the hillside about 20 metres behind them, and neither the bear nor the Elk even blinked at the others presence, they just kept on grazing. I found this very interesting, because everyone knows bears are blood thirsty carnivorous that kill everything they see…

 

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

 

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Elk  (Cervus canadensis)
Elk (Cervus canadensis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Frank Lake – Avocets

Frank Lake – Avocets

Frank Lake is a Ducks Unlimited conservation site southeast of Calgary that is an important breeding site for many migratory birds (http://www.ducks.ca/your-province/alberta/wetlands-area/frank-lake/). How I went this long without hearing about this place completely baffles me, so when I was told about it I headed down for a look the first chance I got.

One of the birds on my list to find and photograph this year was the American Avocet. I spotted one the previous spring and thought they were pretty cool looking so I was hoping to get some photos when their migration brought them up north again.

All I can say about Frank Lake is that it’s pretty awesome. On my first visit there I found not only the one Avocet I was looking for, but was greeted by an entire flock of a few dozen of them wading around in a pool right near where I parked my car. There is also a great viewing blind that sits out over the water where you can watch all the ducks and geese out on the lake.

While there I spotted a large unfamiliar bird landing in the reeds off in the distance, and though it was too far away to identify at the time I shot some (really bad) photos, and after getting home was able identify it as a Black Crowned Night Heron. A bird I had never even heard of let alone seen before, so that was pretty exciting.

When I fist arrived at the lake I ran into a lady who asked me about Short-eared owls (at least I think that’s what she was asking, her English was not great, and I was rather confused). But then later when the sun was pretty much down and I was packing up I saw what was obviously some kind of owl flying around way off in the distance. I shot a couple of photos but was pretty much out of light so I put my gear away and headed out. Then as I was driving the gravel road back away from the lake it flew right up to within 10 metres of my passenger window and followed along beside me for a couple of hundred metres. She was right, it was a Short Eared Owl.

Overall my first experience at Frank Lake was pretty awesome, and I’m sure I’ll be heading back again in the near future.

American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
Trio of American Avocets napping in the sun.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Black-crowned Night-Heron hiding in the reeds.
Prairie Lake
Sunset in the Prairies
041913 - Frank Lake-444
Sunset over Frank Lake, Alberta Canada
041913 - Frank Lake-451_2_3
Sunset over Frank Lake, Alberta Canada
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl in flight
American Coot
American Coot
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet

Banff

Banff

Every year I get to spend a couple days in Banff during the last week of February. This year I spent most of it in driving up and down the Parkway, and south on the #93 all the way to Radium and back in search of wildlife, and didn’t see so much as a single deer. To make matters worse the weather was cold and dark and cloudy and entirely un-photogenic.  I did a short hike along the shore of lake Minnewanka (to the caynon bridge and back), and spent some time playing around on the cracked ice and rocky outcroppings and of the lake. On the last day the weather finally did clear up just before sunset, and I had just enough time to race down to Vermillion lakes to snap a few pictures.

Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains Winter in the mountains

 

Playing around with my GPS and Lightroom….. LR Map Capture

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
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

 

Highwood Morning

Highwood Morning

So, the clock on my dresser says its 5:30 in the morning, and I’m staring at the ceiling wondering why I’m wide awake on a Thursday morning after only sleeping like 4 hours. And then I start thinking about a Sausage and Egg Mcmuffin from McDonalds, and next thing I know I’m showered and loading gear into the car. I don’t have to be at work for like 6 hours so I figure I’ll take the long way there……

When I say long way there, I mean the three hundred and some kilometre loop through Canmore up Spray Lakes Trail to Hwy. #40 over the Highwood Pass to Longview and Hwy. #22.

Eating my breakfast while cruising down Hwy. #1,  the clouds rolling over the mountains were phenomenal (as they frequently are at sunrise), but like always I can’t find a decent place to stop for a photo on the highway. After getting stuck in Canmore (long story) for awhile I finally make it up  to spray lakes, and everything is completely fogged in, so there’s really no photo opportunities until I’m almost all the way back to Highway 40.

I did eventually spot a moose on the side of the road, which livened things up a little, but it was a ugly young male with little pathetic stunted looking velvet antlers. Which was a little bit disappointing.

After that things started to clear up, and I had a incredible run-in with the most beautiful healthy looking female moose I’ve ever seen.  What was really great was how little she actually cared that I was there. It always amazes me how you can tell when an animal is uncomfortable, and you can really tell when it’s just going about its business, and completely apathetic to your presence. By the end of it I was literally driving circles around her to get into position for a shot, (and trying to get a rise out of her, (which I never managed to do)).

Other than the moose, the photography wasn’t really working, at least until I got back down out of the mountains and into the prairies (I love the depth created by the clouds and shadows in the last photo), but by then I was late for work and in a rush.

Needless to say it turned into a really, really, long day at work, but was well worth it in the end.

Mountain Road

 

Blanket of fog over Buller Pond

 

Awkward teenage moose.

 

Moose

 

Mountain Fog

 

Wild Moose

 

Wild Moose

 

Wild Moose

 

“You can go around!”

 

Wild Moose

 

“that’s what I think about that!”

 

Wild Mountain Moose

 

Kananaskis Lakes

 

Highwood Pass

 

Prairie Skies