Thursday, November 10, 2011

October 4, 2011 Ungulate Day

We woke up to a dreary day. Fog, rain, chilly. So we started our day at the Bear Claw Bakery, then off to the Jasper Visitor Center. It was during this time that the Edmonton Oilers were riding their bikes to the hockey rink across the street from the Bear's Den B&B where we are staying. I didn't find out about any of this until later tonight. So back to what we did do and see today. We decided to drive out to Maligne Lake. We saw elk on the Yellow Head Highway. Chrissy saw a coyote on Maligne Lake Road. I saw fog blocking my view of the mountains and rain. Lots of rain. I stopped at a turnout above Medicine Lake just to stretch my legs. It was still pouring down rain. But then...
...through the rain and the clouds, Chrissy spotted something in Medicine Lake. On with the rain gear, ziplock bags for the camera equipment in a backpack and we are hiking down to the lake across a grassy meadow and over a few hills. It was worth it because there were two moose grazing in the shallow the water.
 We hiked to a few huge rocks about 200 feet from the shore and about 50 feet uphill.
 I did my best to get some good pictures and to keep my camera as dry as possible. And to stay out of view from the moose that had a straight path to me if they decided to charge.
It was quite thrilling to be able to see moose this close up. But the cold rain was beginning to soak everything, so we hiked back uphill. The final ascent was tricky because it was steep and muddy. I somehow made it without face planting myself on the hill. Five minutes down the road I was still talking about how cool it was to see wildlife that close when we ran into this...
...a road block. We couldn't get past this group of Rocky Mountain sheep.
 So we each took a camera and started shooting. We didn't have anywhere else to be.
 The classic butt shot. It always seems like the wildlife is always walking away from us.
 All of a sudden they started turning around. Just for the record, we took these pictures from the car. On the left side of the road was 1000 feet of rock mountain side and to the right was a 200 foot cliff down to Medicine Lake.
 These girls are probably 10 - 30 feet from us, we had zoom lens for these pictures.

 Chrissy loves this shot because you can see the raindrops on her horns and because she says she took this picture.
Eventually the herd of about a dozen sheep moved to the side of the road. Earlier we saw about 20 kids training for the ski season by using roller skis to take Maligne Lake Road in the same direction as us. Maybe you think so what. I'll tell you this road is uphill almost the whole way and it is raining pretty heavily. I never took pictures of the kids but I was damn impressed when we saw them at Maligne Lake...forty miles from where we first saw them.
A young mule deer along Maligne Lake Road.
 Our destination. The beautiful Maligne Lake. Ringed by huge mountain peaks. All joking aside, it was beautiful. At least what we could see was amazing.
I made these pictures black & white because there was barely any color in them anyway. So these are my  B&W artistic pictures. We hiked around the lake for a little bit.
My Jesus Christy Superstar...walking on water.
 Just trying to find something to photograph...
...these were the best of my attempts at being a real photographer.
We hiked up to Moose Lake. No moose, no mountains...still raining.
With no end to the clouds in sight we headed back to hike Maligne Canyon.
Guess who was still hanging out along the road?
Wait just a this the male in charge of the harem? Maybe.
 The hike along Maligne Canyon goes for miles and it is an incredible sight the whole way. Like so many of the places we visited so far, you really need to see this one for yourself.
There are six bridges along this hike that cross the canyon. These pictures were all taken from the first bridge to the sixth bridge.

Maligne Canyon is a narrow slot canyon at times and a wide open canyon at other places.

Some pictures were taken down the canyon...
 ...others while hiking back up.
 The rain was on and off for the couple of hours we spent in the canyon.
 But the scenery was stunning regardless of the weather.

 Chrissy on the fifth bridge...
...and the sixth bridge.
 We ended our day driving up to Pyramid and Patricia Lakes.
 We hiked around both lakes.

When we got back to the B&B in Jasper, we met the couple staying in the next room. We talked with Ed & Lynn about Jasper NP, wildlife, photography, politics, conservation, more politics, climate change. Two hours later, we left the hallway to our own rooms. It was great having an intelligent conversation with extremely interesting people on such a wide variety of topics. This is why I love visiting places like this and staying with the locals. Now you might ask how did you stand in a hallway and spend two hours talking to someone you met by chance. Well, I am from Brooklyn and Ed was from the Bronx. That is how it is possible.

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