After the Forest Fire
There was a forest fire at Exclesior Creek earlier this year and I was very saddened to see in the newspapers that the area around my oft-visited viewing site at Medicine Lake was burned.A desire arose in me to see it first-hand. I admit that as I drove up Maligne Lake Road to Medicine Lake the moment I saw the burned area I felt overwhelmed by the devastation.I was also curious what kind of photos I could take of the burnt area and perhaps what was already starting to grow. There were areas that were thick with trees and probably needed thinning out. Yes there will be rejunenation but I felt the loss as well. I talked with a local artist in the parking lot who shared with me how he has come for many years to the area to paint “en plaine air” and we agreed it was sad as well as would be interesting to see what abstracts could be discovered…he as a painter and I as a photographer.I could still smell the charcoal as I took the following photos. Since it was fall the lake was much lower and I was able to walk on ground that normally would be under water. This lake has an under water drainage system and the level drops dramatically in the fall as the water goes underground and drains into the Maligne river and canyon.The photo in my header is of Medicine Lake .there is an eagle’snest on the left and I worried about the young until I saw a photo of the burnt tree with the healthy eaglet still in the nest.
The last photo is taken from the lake looking back at the parking lot above the stairway.there are some trees that survived as well as saplings in their fall colours
Two Favourite Locations
After going into town for a yummy muffin and Latte from The Other Paw, I headed about 20 km south on the Icefields Parkway to a most wonderful lake. There is a small parking area here and no signs except for the board at the trail head. It is just a short walk through the woods, to a creek. Cross the creek and follow the trails -there is one that goes straight ahead and one that goes left along the creek then into the woods. Both ways are short walks that take you to different parts of the rocky shoreline that has, in some spots, emerald green waters and if you time it right , amazing reflections of the water and cliffs across the way.
This is a place where I can spend hours pondering the scenery and on a warm day, soaking up the heat from the rocks.
Just down the road is the junction of highways 93 and 93A. I turned right here to go to Athabasca Falls.There are short walks to various viewpoints of the falls and the gorge. You can feel the energy as the water rushes over the rocks and through the gorge.
I have been to this spot in spring , summer and fall -never the same and always exciting.
Next was Medicine Lake where there was a forest fire earlier this season and further up the road, Maligne Lake, an almost 40 km drive. I will save that for my next post.
The View from Here-Whistler Mountain
On my first morning I took a path behind the hostel a very little way up Whistler mountain and took images looking up to the Skytram and out to Pyramid Mountain. Nothing like going to the mountains to find out just how bad the fitness level is.In no time I was huffing and puffing and feeling the strain in my calf muscles. It was a frosty morning and made for some pretty scenes.
on the path in front of me
The Sky Tram Station on Whistler Mountain behind me
Looking across the valley at Pyramid Mountain
fall leaves are mostly gone and sunlight warms the frosty air
Rest and Relaxation
I gave a month’s notice to my work and am taking a much-needed break for a week. We have been short-staffed and over-worked for a long time while making money for the company and I am tired. On Monday I will be heading for the hills, either Jasper National Park or David Thompson country. When I come back I will hopefully have a whole bunch of new images. For today, I am resting, going to the advance polls to vote in the provincial election and researching options for accomodation in the days to come.Recharging batteries, figuratively and literally.
On Sunday I will still be in this area of Central Alberta but going on the Snow Goose Chase sponsored by the Nature Club. We will be bussing around the country spotting Snow geese on their migration north-a truly magnificent sight. Maybe we will see Bluebirds and owls, cranes…and huge flocks of Snow Geese.
Here are some images from the past as I think of which direction to go:
Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park
Abraham Lake David Thompson Country
Raven on Icefields Parkway
Just thought that I would post this photo of a raven that I took last spring at a stop on the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park. Been inspired by some photos on the blogs . Thoughts are with the election tomorrow in the US. all the best.
Using my Toolkit
I am recovering and feel better today. In retrospect I got busy.Real busy. Then I stopped using one of the most important tools in my kit. The daily practise of quiet time, prayer, meditation, sitting in the silence, whatever I choose to call it. The name is not important but the practise is. It is the difference between practising the problem or practising the solution.
Sometimes the size of my tool kit overwhelms me and I get stuck with indecision – the paralysis of analysis. This is the time to ” just pick one. ” “Use it.” Everything turns around from there. My best tool is the “take the time” tool. Next is the “gratitude” tool. invaluable but totally useless if I don’t use them. Have a great day!
A Place to sit and Contemplate
It is great to get on the road and travel, take tons of photos, go for short hikes and even buy over-priced items but it is so important in the travelling to stop and take a breather, to take that pause, and just breathe. I did a lot of travelling in a week but did make a point of taking a moment, or a few, to find a quiet or noisy spot and just sit, be still within myself, and soak in the beauty. Here are some of those places: water lilies at Jackfish Lake. Medicine Lake on Maligne Lake Road, misty evening at Fish Lake, Patricia Lake shoreline, bench beside Sunwapta River, Beauty Creek, and Windy Point on Abraham Lake.
I am all showered and shaved now- really discovered the parts about myself that I don’t like and the parts I do like brought on by the fear of bears and heat and exhaustion. The trip brought out the best and the worst in me with sleeping in strange surroundings, the constant sound of rushing water as some hostels were beside turbulent rivers which was energizing at times and annoying when I wanted to relax and sleep at other times. There were bear warnings in a few areas which made me very vigilant and never felt comfortable enough to camp in a tent but did stay in wilderness hostels and went on short hikes. sometimes my knees swelled and I slowed to a snail’s pace. On the first day of the trip my muffler detached from the bottom of my car and I tied it on using wire and on the last night I locked my keys in my vehicle so it wasn’t stress-free. But no computers, no phones, just the occasional stop at a restaurant to recharge my batteries and quench my thirst really felt right and it was great to go to bed without street lights shining through the window or radios to distract me.
And photos! Oh boy…did I ever take a lot of photos. Some were well planned and others were expressions of my being snap-happy. A friend joined me on the first couple of days to shoot photos and I joked with her that I didn’t want to run into a bear but would like to see one from the car. We were armed with our bear spray and more afraid of using that stuff than running into a bear but we did practise pulling the lock out and putting it back on so that we knew how to use it. At one point we were in an area that had posted signs that stated it was grizzly country so we made some noise. I found myself humming then realised that the song was “Teddy Bears Picnic.” Ha! How ironic!
I got my wish when I took a road tour in the early evening specifically to spot wildlife on my last night in Jasper National Park. I spotted a black bear, cinnamon coloured just walking through the woods. I drove into an adjacent parking lot keeping a good distance and shot a couple of manual photos, noticed how dark they were so switched to program mode. I wanted enough speed to capture movement and open aperture to capture light.I also upped my ISO to get more light. In the end the ones shot manually were the best and I managed to lighten them up in Lightroom.
A Journey to the Past
I think that I can do this right today. I mean, getting both the words and the photos down in a blog together. I am going through my old photos and disgarding duplicates and just plain “bad” photos. I am finallyletting go of the photos from , can you believe it, four years ago from a disasterous relationship that left me heart-broken and bitter. The year I broke up with this man I went on a vacation through the Canadian Rockies, through Banff , Jasper, and Yoho National Parks.
I took my drum and my bicycle with me and stayed at hostels and met people from around the world. Other than a couple of drunks most people were polite and well- mannered. I really enjoyed the trip and loved the beauty of the mountains.I was fairly physically fit and did some moderate hikes.
I have been to the mountains a few times since then and always enjoy the journey, setting off with nuts, licorice and a cup of ” Tim’s”. Healthy food was abundant on these trips, after shopping at grocery stores and allowing an indulgence at a restuarant or two. As an aside, don’t go grocery shopping in Lake Louise unless you like paying twice the price as everywhere else. A loaf of bread was $5.00, long before the recent insanity of sky-rocketing food and gas prices. In Yoho four years ago I paid $4.00 for a can of Chunky soup. So shop in the larger centers outside the parks if you are on a restricted budget. I don’t mind paying for entry to the parks themselves as it protects conservation.
Anyway here is a pleasant journey to the past and I invite you to come and join me to see the sights. I shot these photos with a hundred-dollar point and shoot before I got my DSLR. Click on the images to enlarge.
Another Photo from Horseshoe Lake
I loved this spot. It was a reminder of the rocks that I knew in Ontario in cottage country. They were rough precambian shield, that would toast your body from the heat that reflected off them. I took the time in the present to sit and absorb the heat because it was a hot day, or at least felt like it after sleeping in a tent for the night. I looked at the aqua water and smelled the pine and spruce and listened to the warblings of the birds. People were actually jumping off the cliffs into the water-glacier-fed lakes in the mountains in May. Br-r-r-! I chuckled as I heard the screams as they hit the water. Oh yes, I remember.
Older and more sensible now. Ha! Maybe.
I may come back here in the future at a different time of day and in different light when the reflections and the rocks are hard to distinguish one from the other.But for now I will post another shot of this stunning location. Enjoy!
The Large and Small of It All
I found this photo as I was deleting a few from the past and noticed the difference in the size of the mountains and the people beside the pond. This was taken a couple of years ago from the upper trail part of the loop to the Edith Cavell pond at Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park, Canada. It is an amazing walk to the pond and back and relatively short, only 1.6 km. The upper part of the trail is visible before me and the lower is in the bottom right of the photo. I have gone twice now and find it spectacular. Maybe I will go again this year to take photos of the meadows in bloom later in summer.Mount Edith Cavell dominates the skyline from many viewpoints just outside of the town of Jasper and I wanted to share a brief history of it’s namesake.
Mount Edith Cavell is named after a British nurse to nonour her bravery and action. She nursed soldiers of all sides and trained other nurses during the first world war while stationed in Belgium. After being arrested for administering to the enemy, she admitted openly to caring for any soldier regardless of his country and was jailed then executed.This is a quote from her in 1915 before her execution. “Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realize that Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone.” Edith Louisa Cavell 1865-1915
I took these photos using my 70-300mm lens and from the safety of the car, both for my sake and the sake of the animals. This is stressful for them to have people approaching them and if one person doesn’t get hurt by this, perhaps the next one will. I was floored when I pulled over to a roadside stop and there was a photographer with a 300mm lens or more lying on the ground about 15 ft from this ram and his ewes. Probably because of the example he set, a family with young children was getting out of their van to take some photos. Sure, they were eating quietly but that can change in an instant-they are wild animals.
The elk was spotted across the road and I took the photo from the safety of the car. The cows are calving now and are dangerous because if they feel threatened they will charge.
The loon was a gift because as I approached the shoreline, I inadvertently flushed a pair out from the underbrush. I managed to get three shots of the one.
Horseshoe Lake Jasper NP
I decided to rendezvous with the other members of the Edson Photography Club at the Snaring River campground in Jasper National Park this past weekend. There is a lot of talent in this club that I initially joined when I lived in Edson but rejoined when I attended a workshop with Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou hosted by the club last fall. I slept in my tent and must admit it was chilly at zero and even moved to a friend’s trailer the first night but stayed in my tent the second night just to prove that I could do it. I have never camped this early in the year nor in bear country until now. Just a few showed up but we had a good time at the scenic spots and even met a traveller who spotted us with our cameras and joined us at the campground and on outings… It was very warm on Saturday which got the kinks out from the cold evening before and we visited roadside reflecting pools, Horseshoe Lake and Athabasca Falls before returning to the campground for steaks provided by the club and potluck-delicious! Will post my photos from Sunday’s stops on the slow way home via Maligne Lake and roadside stops in future blogs.
The Peaks of Jasper National Park
Busy going through the files and deleting and saving, etc.Just had to do one more thing, which is share some photos of the mountains. Yes, I am obsessed. Hope you enjoy but realize I hve some “pokeys” (those things that poke into a photo from the edge that shoudn’t be there) First heard this from Samantha Chrysanthou
I went on the drive to Maligne Lake a fantastic 30 kilometer trip up the mountain road. This is where the famous pictures of Spirit Island are taken and you must paddle or take the boat cruise to get there. To me, it is expensive, fifty -five dollars, but I aim to go because it is a once in a lifetime must-do because anyone who has gone tells me it is so breath-takingly beautiful and well worth the expence.
I was trying to look up the distance but it varies depending on where you are starting. I believe there is a sign at the canyon that says the lake is 37km away-it is worth it. Yes Jasper is expensive but I get a seasonal pass and make it worth my while by going to any national park as often as I can.Day pass is $10.90 per person and who knows how much more for those trailers. I stay at a hostel or home accomodation to keep the costs down. I would like to go camping but with a group of respectful people who are not going to try to get too close to the wildlife-safety matters. This year there are warnings out for wolves on trails right outside of town. On Maligne lake road there is usually a black bear sow with two cubs and a grizzly with cubs, who may be grown up now so sometimes trails are closed for safety.You can check out trail conditions and animal sightings on the Jasper National Park website.
Speaking of safety matters, I had a few moments of discomfort when I was at the lake and following the trail but right foot went off the beaten path and that leg dropped into snow above my knee mid thigh. My other knee was injured previously and was now bent underneath me. I managed to lean forward and move my straight leg back and forth a few inches so that I could get it out of the hole when I tried to lift myself on my left knee-oh that hurt. It took a couple of tries but I made it. There were other people around and I would have started yelling for help but saved myself the embarassment. I sure watched my footing after that. A small mistake can turn into a disaster pretty quicklyin the bush. I was trying to get to the boathouse because it was covered with snow. Usually in the ads the sky is blue, the waters aquamarine, the mountains lit by the sun. Here is a slideshow of my impressions of the area in different conditions when the lake is snow-covered.
Athabasca Falls Gorge
I am attracted to the colour of the water as well as the shapes formed by the water rocks and water. After the falls the water makes its way through a gorge before coming out to the river again. I thought it would be interesting to see in winter or at least in spring when there is still lots of snow and some parts are still frozen.
Mount Edith Cavell
This mountain dominates the skyline all around the town of Jasper. I was south on hwy 93( Icefields Parkway) that goes from Jasper to Banff. Took this from a viewpoint that looks across to Athabasca Pass.To get to Edith Cavell you go onto hwy 93A but it is inaccessible now partially due to efforts to take care of the caribou population. I will go there later in summer to take the trail to the ponds and the meadows which has beautiful blooms across from Angel Glacier.
Talbot Lake Reflections
It can take quite a while to get to the town of Jasper once crossing into the border of this National Park because of the many enticing views along the way. One of my favourite spots is Talbot Lake with its aqua/turquoise waters on your left side if you are travelling west. This area has wonderful relections and the ice is off the lake now in most places. This picture is taken at one end of the lake where there is pullover parking and it is marked with a sign. Not so much turquoise here but nice reflections. There was a bit of a breeze which gave it a painterly feel. See for yourself…
Spring Melt – Base of Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls is a 35 minute drive south of the town of Jasper on highway 93, otherwise known as the Icefields parkway in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. It was icy but I had cleats on and decided what I could and could not handle. I did avoid going up some icy snow-filled stairways that were short but steep, but used my zoom lens to get some close-up shots of the falls where the ice had melted and I could see water…
Wildlife of Jasper National Park
Well I made it! Was somewhat worried that the weather would hold me back, but I was determined and so glad I went to Jasper last weekend. Everything fell into place with travel, and accomodation and seeing some of the wildlife. And the weather was fantastic. Here are a few samples, including birds. i did see four bald eagles two outside of Edson and two in the park but due to circumstances could not get the photos. It was still a thrill to see them. Please click on photos to enlarge the slideshow.Mountains and scenery tomorrow. 🙂