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Emperor Falls Campground – Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park

Emperor Falls Campground – Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park

  • Emperor Falls campground
    • Distance One Way – 16 km
  • Whole Trip
    • Distance Return – 46 km
    • Elevation Gain – 1028 metres

Mount Robson and the Berg Lake Trail is said to be one of the top backpacking trips in the country. Which in turn means that it also see more visitors than most other trails in the Canadian Rockies. It starts out a nice easy walk through temperate rainforest along the shore of a lake and then a easy climb takes you up into the Valley of a Thousand Falls, where we stopped for lunch. We had set a painfully slow pace on this first part of the hike, which turned out to be a bit of a mistake as a thunderstorm rolled in shortly after lunch and we ended up slugging our way up switchbacks in the pouring rain. Not only did this make for a long afternoon we missed out on some seriously beautiful scenery and opted not to make the side trip to Emperor Falls because of it. Overall the hike was a relatively easy one with a couple of good climbs but nothing too intense and some absolutely amazing scenery. The valley was pretty spectacular despite it being fairly dry time of year (there was not quite a thousand falls). I got a real kick out of the river on the opposite side of the valley running along the the top of a massive cliff, somehow it just seemed unnatural to see river running along that high above the ground.

We camped out at Emperor Campground which was alright, but the trail runs right through the middle of the camp so there was a fair bit of coming and going, and there is basically nothing there but a place to set up tents.

If I was to do it again I would choose to continue on further to one of the other sites. As we found out the next day continuing on to the lake is a easy walk with absolutely no change in elevation, and there is a lot more to see and do further on.

With two glaciers, one of the more impressive mountains you’ll ever see, and of course Berg Lake with actual icebergs floating around (and the sound of them calving off the glacier) was pretty spectacular, despite the cloudy rainy conditions. There is also a handful of other hikes and trails in the area. Which unfortunately we didn’t have time to do next time we’ll have to plan on a few more days to explore the area, and do a bit more research into all the trails before hand. After passing Berg lake, we continued on crossing back into Alberta to Adolphus Lake where we spent some time relaxing on the shore.

The weather finally cleared up in time for our hike out, and we made much better time, and were able to enjoy a bit more of the scenery. While it was a fantastic trip I can’t help but feel between the overcast rainy weather and the lack of time that we only caught a glimpse of all there is to see and do in the area, and I will jump at the chance to go back and do it again.

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

 

 

American Black Bear feeding on summer grass, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
American Black Bear feeding on summer grass, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Alberta - BC Boundary marker on the Berg Lake Trail
Alberta – BC Boundary marker on the Berg Lake Trail
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Hoary Marmot in a mountain campground in summer
Hoary Marmot in a mountain campground in summer
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic mountain hiking views, Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
Jasper Camping

Jasper Camping

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

Carburn Park – Terns

Carburn Park – Terns

I thought I would do some fishing, and headed down to Carburn Park after work. When I got to my fishing spot I found a bunch of Common Terns feeding on insects over the river. Despite the bad light it was a pretty cool shooting session because the I was able to sit right up close on the bank while they worked their way slowly down the river diving and skimming the surface for bugs. Once they were about twenty or thirty yards away they would fly right back up to where I was and start over again.

As I mentioned, the light was pretty crappy, and I hadn’t brought along my tripod, and the birds move pretty erratically, so getting a sharp image was not easy, but it was a lot of fun. Needless to say I didn’t do a whole lot of fishing.

 

Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
American White Pelicans floating down the river
American White Pelicans floating down the river
American White Pelicans floating down the river
American White Pelicans floating down the river
Canadian Geese in the prairies in springtime
Canadian Geese in the prairies in springtime
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland

 

Fairmont – British Columbia

Fairmont – British Columbia

I got a really good deal on a week long stay at a place by the Fairmont Hotsprings and headed out for some R&R. I spent the whole day driving out, through Kananaskis and Banff and Kootenay National Parks, stopping first at Gap lake to watch a variety of small songbirds. The weather was beautiful and I had great time exploring the shorelines at various points along the Bow and Kootenay rivers.

Once I got to Fairmont the weather turned rainy and overcast for the next few days, and I spent a lot of time relaxing around the hotel. That’s not to say I didn’t do much, I did a whole lot of driving all over the area. I explored the forestry roads in search of White Swan Lake. Photographed Colombia Lake at sunset. Drove a dirt track on the south side of the river valley halfway to Golden (and then continued on the rest of the way on the highway). Went hiking down to a old gold miners camp along a small creek. Walked around Canal flats where an old canal had been dug between Columbia Lake and the river which is in a different watershed.

I had really been hopeful that I would see some wildlife, but it was a bit of a letdown. The marshes and ponds were strangely devoid of waterfowl (despite it being the annual bird festival in the area). I did spot a black bear about 2 kilometres from the hotel after driving all the way to Golden and back without seeing anything. I had on my wide lens and after it crossed the road in front of my car I watched it from a stand up and scratch its back on a telephone pole while I was fumbling around with my camera, and of course it was gone by the time I got my long lens on.

I spent a lot of time driving up and down some sketchy forestry roads, but apart from a couple of deer and a huge flock of Coots in one of the mountain lakes it was entirely unproductive.

The highlight was an afternoon spent in the reed beds near Canal Flats, which was full of  of Great Blue Herons. The light was pretty crappy so I was excited to go back the next day, but the Heron’s were mostly all gone.

As far as photography goes the way there and back again through Banff and Kananaskis was likely more productive than all the time I spent in BC, but I read an entire book about Coastal Wolves and spent more than a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. So I guess it was a successful trip.

 

 

Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Still waiting for spring….

I drove out to Kananaskis Country, taking the long way through Springbank, to exploring some of the backcountry roads to try and photograph waterfowl in the country ponds. It wasn’t very successful and the weather was beginning to turn rather ugly. By the time I got into Kananaskis Country I realised that spring was still a long way off in the mountains and headed back early, deciding not waste anymore time.

 

Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Ring-necked Ducks in a farmland slough
Ring-necked Ducks in a farmland slough
Frank Lake

Frank Lake

Winter seemed a big long this year and by April I was desperate to get out and do something. Despite it not being very warm, and a strong north wind blowing I thought I would give Frank Lake a try to see if the birds were migrating yet.

While the birds were starting to arrive (most notably the Northern Pintails) the lake was still partially ice covered. Most of the shoreline was free of ice, but it was completely flooded and I couldn’t actually get near the lake. At the trail to the viewing blind where I parked my car the water came pretty much right out to the roadway, the walkway was completely submerged, and the actual blind had water halfway up the railings.

I walked around the lake shore for a bit despite it being completely unproductive, but eventually the wind took it’s toll and I gave up and headed home.

 

Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Powerlines through the prairies with mountain views
Powerlines through the prairies with mountain views
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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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

 

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Kananaskis – Flood 2013

Kananaskis – Flood 2013

In the last week or so of June 2013 Calgary had its worst flood in well…. ever… with both rivers spilling over their banks and flowing through much of downtown. But you probably know all this so that’s about all I’m gonna say about it (here’s some more info if you don’t know all about it… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Alberta_floods).

Anyway things were pretty crazy in town, but in all reality it didn’t affect me in the least little bit, in fact I never even saw any of the flood water or river until about a week after it had crested. But as soon as the roads began reopen in Kananaskis country I knew I had to head out to have a look at the damage.

The damage was pretty crazy to see… tiny little streams had cut 20 foot chasms into hillsides and stripped shorelines of trees and plants and soil in huge swaths and ripping roads and bridges right off their foundations. What was really amazing was to see just how much earth the water had moved, roadside ditches that had been 10 feet deep were now filled to road level with dirty or gravel, and whole hillside that used to overlook the iver were simply not there anymore. At one point on the Spray Lakes trail I got out to take a walk along the stream that runs parallel to the road. The first thing I noticed was how wide the stream-bed was, it had probably only been about 10 feet across before the flood, but was now more like 40 or 50 feet across, with the bank on the other side made up of a wall of freshly exposed soil. But what really got me was the smell. The smell of pine coming from the hundreds or thousands of twisted, broken, and downed pine trees that lined the sides of the shore was so strong it literally made my eyes water and burned my sinuses, it was really quite remarkable.

Looking back (yes it’s almost a year later that I’m writing this), whats really crazy to think about is just how long the scars of that flood will be present, the debris and sticks and branches and mud stuck ten feet high in the trees will likely take a good 5 years to be dislodge and washed completely away. The piles of broken and downed trees might be recognizable for a decade or two or three. The changed in the course of the rivers and streams, and the deposits of gravel and dirt and boulders might take a few decades to become healed to the point where they no longer look like a visible scar on the landscape, but in all reality they might be there for a few centuries or longer, or basically forever, at least until the next big flood. Or until we decide to pave over them and put in a new parking lot.

Flood Damage on a mountain stream Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada, 2013
Flood Damage on a mountain stream Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada, 2013
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
Sibbald Meadows – Heron and Osprey

Sibbald Meadows – Heron and Osprey

I spent the afternoon fishing and chasing birds around at Sibbald Meadows pond…. (that’s really about all there is to say about that).

Great Blue Heron in flight over a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron in flight over a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron perched in a pine tree over a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron perched in a pine tree over a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron wading in a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron wading in a mountain pond, Alberta Canada
Wild Osprey perched in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Osprey perched in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Osprey perched in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Osprey perched in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
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
McKinnon Lake

McKinnon Lake

Headed out to McKinnon Flats southeast of Calgary to do some fishing on the Bow river. On the way there I made a quick stop off at the lake (which doesn’t appear to have a name so I call it McKinnon Lake) that is a little bit down the road and across Highway 22 from the turnoff to the flats.

Although I didn’t find anything especially exciting, the usual suspects (yellow-headed, and red-winged blackbirds) were out in full force and I was able to get a few worthwhile shots.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)
Black-billed Magpie  on a fence post
Black-billed Magpie on a fence post
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Porcupine

Porcupine

I wanted to try some fishing down on the Bow River south of Carburn Park near Douglasdale and the Deerfoot Bridge. It was a beautiful day to be out on the river, and although the fish weren’t biting at all I had a run-in with a porcupine on the way back, although the light was pretty much gone I was able to get a few shots in, and get close enough to use my flash.

Wild Osprey in Flight, Alberta Canada North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)

Frank Lake

Frank Lake

I spent another great afternoon out at Frank Lake photographing birds…

The Black-Crowned Night Herons and Western Grebes were the definite highlights of the day.

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) American Avocets

Swans

Swans

There is a pond on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway just before the Jumping-pound exit, that for whatever reason draws a group of Trumpeter Swans every spring. While most of the time I’m speeding by on the highway and just get a glimpse of them, today I thought I should take the time to try and get some photos.

To put it bluntly, it was so cold and windy that I could hardly hold the camera still, the light was terrible, the Swans were filthy, and they swam off to the far side of the pond as soon as I pulled up.

Not my best photo stop, but at least I tried, and well there’s always next year.

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeter Swans

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

Kananaskis

Kananaskis

After hibernating through the first few weeks of the year cabin fever finally got the better of me, so I got up early and headed out towards Spray Lakes in Kananaskis Country to see what I could find.

All I can say is I didn’t find much at all. It was pretty much a whiteout as I headed up the hill from Canmore and along the side of the lake. As far a wildlife goes the one and only highlight was a squirrel sitting on its pile of pine cone debris. Once I hit highway 40 the snow had stopped, and the sky clearing slightly, but it was still painfully cold and windy so the few times I did stop it was short lived and not very productive.

 

Winter in the Mountains
Snow falling over Spray Lakes
Winter in the Mountains
Winter storm
Winter Squirrel
Squirrel at the dinner table
Winter in the Mountains
Mount Lorette Pond in winter
Mountain Waterfall
Waterfall on the side of Highway 40
Mountain Waterfall
Waterfall in winter
Winter in the Mountains
Mount Lorette Pond

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