Travel Journal

Dunster - Jasper - June 3 - What a terrible, lousy, crappy day

(Monday 4 June 2007) by Karin
Woke up at 4:00 am and got up at 5:00. Yeah, you are reading this right, this is not a mistake, I got up at 5:00. Bob, neighbor on the west, expected me at 7:00 am and still had loads of things to do before. Plants, horses, water, prepare picnic etc. And if I wasn't there, he'd pick me up. Then in the car to pick up Mick, neighbor on the east for a pretty awful drive to Jasper. First I was forced in the car and then on the way there they forced me to look out for wildlife, get out of the car, walk up hills, make pictures, etc. and all this in terrible weather. Sunny all day. What a lousy day.
But I got the best guides in town and after filling up the tank we were on our way. Mick is a wildlife photographer and they know the best places to go to. I'm sure to see some wildlife today. First stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere but there is a little trail going down to a gorgeous, roundshaped little lake. Trail is almost invisible so you really got to know about it. Back into the car but soon Mick spots an elk, also called wapiti, and we have to make a u-turn and go back. 'Wapiti' is a Shawnee word meaning 'white rump', a fitting name for this animal. Using 'wapiti' straightens out a mistake that won't go away. 'Elk' is the Northern European name for the Moose. Whatever you call them, elk are easily identifiable: large, with a long head on a long neck. The neck and head are dark brown, as are the legs and the halo around the buffy rump patch. The tail is small, the same color as the rump patch. The rest is light brown to buff. Adult males are 'stags' and females 'hinds'. The antlers of a stag are magnificent, often 150 cm long, reaching well down the back and weighing 12-17kg. Next view is Mount Fitzwilliam (2911m) in front of us, the South buttress of Yellowhead pass. An important transportation route across the continental divide. Next stop.... great view of Pyramid mountain and then we drive to Maligne Canyon. A world shaped by the passage of water and ice. We passed several examples of water sculpturing, sunken gardens, potholes and the canyon's highest waterfall. Water thundering over the brink of this fall has fashioned an interesting shape through a change in rock layering. The upper layers, much thicker and harder, are more resistant to the force of cascading water, while the lower layers of this 23 m fall are thinner and more susceptible - eroding faster to create the bulb shape.
Oh... what are those.... another u-turn to go meet a flock of female bighorn sheep (mountain sheep). They can often be seen alongside mountain roads in sparsely treed pine meadows. The large males, called rams, are easily distinguished by their massive coiled horns while the females', called ewes, horns are straighter and shorter. The bighorn is mostly brown in summer and grey in winter, at all times with a large white rump patch, small dark-brown tail, white muzzled tip and white line down the back of each leg. Females resemble domestic goats.
Common on montane and subalpine lakes, in ones and twos is the Common Loon. About 60 cm in lenght with a 150 cm wingspan. Sexes look alike. Head black, neck has one white collar and one black one. Prominent white front, the rest patterned black and white. And a red eye. Could only see the red eye with the binoculars. And there's another elk and pretty close by. Unfortunately, his antlers were not as big as the previous one but the 'beast' was pretty impressive.
Then we set of to go see the 'old boys club', the big horn rams. Climbed up the hill by Talbot lake and discovered that they had been there but we're probably down now. We stayed a bit and enjoyed the stunning scenery and a nice little breeze, then headed down again. And yes, there they were. Didn't know where to look first. First saw one on my left, then a bunch of males and females on the right and one in front of me. Exciting. Got a pretty close-up encounter and some good pictures. The one on the left followed me to the group of rams and ewes. Going down further were some females heading up.
We went into Jasper and Bob and Mick had a big frozen yoghurt. On the way home, Bob and I were busy talking until Mick saw a female bear and cub. Another u-turn to go back and got very close and watched her eat for a while.
Last stop at Mount Robson for some pictures and then we headed home.
Thank you Bob and Mick for this awesome day. You two are amazing and I enjoyed this day tremendously.
Once at home I picked up Glenda's boots again to take care of the horses and get some water out of the creek for the garden.
Later in the evening I went back to get a shower. Still not enough water in the house. Once in a while a few liters. At least I can get the dishes done.

  • what an awful day I had by mgauthie@skadden.com
    • Hi Michele by Karin


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