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Jasper Elk

I traveled the last couple of days and, as I went through Jasper National Park, I came across these two elk. They were just off the side of the highway and have a full rack of antlers.

This one was by himself eating.

Elk 5

This one was not as cooperative in showing his face.

Elk 7

The shy one decided the grass was greener over in the other one’s pasture and began to move over.

Elk 1

The interloper begins to push the original out of his pasture. You could hear the clash of the antlers and the intruder seemed able to push the first one back.

Elk 6

I was closer to an elk when we were in Yellowstone several years ago. There is a story to the picture I took as I climbed down the embankment into the ditch and a moment later one of the other tourists we were with tumbled down the embankment. I told her it was OK because I thought could run faster than her.

I was probably 50 or more feet away from the ones in Jasper. I was only about 15 feet from the one in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Elk

Athabasca Falls August 2012

I posted before about Athabasca Falls, but Kathy and I were there this summer and I thought I would share new pictures.

This is a view looking up river. The river is fairly wide and narrows rapidly at the gorge.

This is a view of the falls plunging into the gorge. According to the signs, the falls create, and recreate their path through the gorge constantly.

Kathy took this from the foot bridge which spans the gorge. I walked across which is a first for me. There are hiking trails on that side of the river that work their way further up-stream.

Kathy took this picture from the bridge to show the rings the water grooved into the wall of the canyon. It is like an old washing machine down there.

We got much closer to the falls on this side of the bridge. I got a much stronger sense of the power of the falls through the sound and the way it shakes the ground on that side.

I walked down these steps which are an old channel for the river and the falls. The water carved a new path and abandoned this one.

On the Road

It was a dreary day when we started home from Prince George, British Columbia but, when traveling in the mountains, that is a dynamic that adds to the view.

Barely on the road, we spotted a bear browsing on the shoulder above the highway about 10-15 metres from the car. We rolled the window down and he posed before disappearing from sight.

mountain peaks peek out

snow almost hidden from view

clouds blur the picture.

valley flowers bloom

richness on nature’s canvas

a soft brush at work.

Mount Robson revealed herself within a cloud-like frame pointing her majesty into the blue sky above. I enjoy taking pictures of Mount Robson when the clouds show something different.

I took this picture of Mount Robson a few days earlier. The white on the mountain is glacier or snow.

Kathy and I hiked a few hundred metres along the Berg Lake trail. We had not done this before, but it is a hike we will attempt next summer. I settled for this shot of Mount Robson which disappears from sight as you move along the path. In the foreground, is the Robson River which has its headwaters on Mount Robson and flows into the Fraser River a few kilometres further down the highway.

File:Berg Lake Canadian Rockies.jpg

I borrowed this picture from Wikipedia, but a goal for next summer is to hike into Berg Lake, camp, and bring back pictures.

Sunwapta Falls in Jasper

I got closer to these waterfalls then I normally do and they are impressive. I had not visited Sunwapta Falls before, but they offer an incredible view, sound, and event.

This is a view at the top of the falls looking back upstream.

This is the first chute of water over the top of the falls as it shoots through the narrowing of the channel and over the lip of the valley.

A second view of the top of the falls with a tighter shot on the small cave across the gorge.

And then a last view of the river as it flows down the canyon, crashes into the end wall, takes a sharp left, and disappears from view.

Mount Kerkeslin stands guard over the Icefields Parkway between Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls.

Have a great Monday August 27. 2012.

Stairway to Heaven (Sunwapta Falls in Jasper)

I was sure I had visited Sunwapta Falls before, but, when we got there, it realized otherwise. Sunwapta River flows from Athabasca Glacier and the falls plunge over a hanging valley left by receding glaciers about 8000 years ago.

The path down to the overview above the falls is unique with the tree roots playing an integral role in the stairway. I got closer to the edge than I usually do. Initially, I was going to post a number of pictures, but changed my mind when I looked at this picture taken on my camera by Kathy.

Gnarled it wends

Nature’s stairway

Reveals beauty

Safely, I gain confidence.

I find a way

Previously impossible

Life now fuller, richer

Nature and creation await.

A ray shines down

Lights the path

Shines on each step

Of this ‘highway to heaven.’

Jasper Park Maligne Canyon

The cow elk picture posted yesterday was at the end of our trip to Maligne Canyon. It a challenge for me along the canyon rim with a drop of up to 50 metres. The canyon was an issue for explorers finding their way downstream to the Athabasca River.

This is immediately above the drop into the canyon and the river shows its turbulence already.

The river drops suddenly and its power is obvious. The holes are a product of the swirling water over time.

This is the first part of the canyon and the holes are visible in the top left hand corner of the picture.

The river turns 900 and hollows out the rock wall into a cylinder-like churning machine before roaring down the canyon.

The canyon has six bridges at various locations along the canyon and beyond. Bridge 5 is currently out of commission due to high water. Kathy took this picture from Bridge 1 looking back upstream.

After crossing the bridge, Kathy took this picture. In a particularly harsh environment, the trees are exceptional survivors in places as demonstrated here. This place is probably close to the 50 metres.

As we descended into the canyon, the river began to run slower, but there is evidence of the power of nature over the centuries.

Kathy took this from the 3rd Bridge where our hike ended. The gorge drops again and the river plummets one more time over and around the rocks in its pathway.

The Maligne River flows into the Athabasca below the 6th Bridge. We drove to this bridge and walked to where the rivers converge. We opted to skip the 4th Bridge because we would have turned back due to the closure of some of the trail.

On our way back into Jasper, we made a stop at an overview of the Maligne Canyon. Initially, there was not much to see and we were disappointed. As I walked to the other end of the walled parking lot, this lovely young elk caught my eye.

It took us about five minutes or more to walk carefully closer and not startle this animal. This is her home.


This lonely tree stood all by itself on the crest surrounded by the pretty ones.

A true survivor

Separate from the crowd

You are on your own.

The elements take a toll

Your hair is thin

Your skin pale.

Yet, you stand straight

Limbs reach forward

Belief in something more.

Valued for who you are

Individual, non-conformist

Separate from the crowd.

Lonely, but not alone

Spacious solitude

Create your own beauty.

Jasper and Its Surprises

It was a perfect day. We wandered in Jasper, enjoyed great scenery, and I was with my favourite person.

We found the best at the end of the day. I posted a picture of a bull elk on Yellowstone 2005 in May. I took the picture from about 15-20 metres. Today, Kathy duplicated this with a picture of a cow elk chewing her cud. She seemed aware of our presence, but we were quiet and as others joined us in a secluded area she posed. The wall is about 1 metre thick wall and a similar height.

We hiked for two hours in the Valley of Five Lakes and could have spent more time exploring the small lakes. We crossed the Wabasso Creek and its valley before beginning our ascent. What is surprising about this hiking area, is it is only about 10 minutes from the town site.

We had no easy access to the first lake (they are unnamed), but I used the trees to frame the lake and its prettiness. One of the things we noted about all the lakes was the way they mirrored their surroundings.

The second lake mirrors the mountains and trees vividly in shimmering waters below.

The third lake is a deep green and is very deep in the middle. This lake reflected clouds and trees. The green appeared to be algal growth and not from the source of the water.

We could not get a good angle for pictures of the fourth lake, but it was the home of frolicking dragonflies. Kathy captured this one with amazing patience.

We only got glimpses of the fifth lake. Thick foliage and steep banks surrounded it. We tried several different paths but to no avail. One thing along the paths was the frequency of large rocks left by glaciers which formed this valley and its small lakes.

I enjoy Robert Frost’s The Road Less Traveled. As we began our hike, we saw this path and wondered where it went, but stayed on the main path. As we climbed back out of the Valley of Five Lakes we had a choice: go right or go left. We chose right and found ourselves on the path we wondered about almost two hours before. We took the road less traveled. It was a challenging part of the trip physically.

And, at the end,

We emerged at the beginning

At the trail head,

Mountains rediscovered

Blue skies gone

Clouds not only threatened;

They delivered a promise

Like our day.

Jasper National Park Day 1

Kathy and I are in Jasper for a couple of days. It was a great way to spend the Sabbath.

I find it deceptively spectacular here. In Waterton, did a lot in three days, but here you have to choose; there are so many places to go. It is a larger park with a much longer connected set of trails.

We took the first pictures a few kilometres inside the park. This is looking east and downstream on the Athabasca River. The Athabasca originates at the foot of the Columbia Icefield. It joins the Peace River and forms the Slave River, which flows into the Great Slave Lake where the Mackenzie River discharges and flows to the Arctic Ocean. From the source of the Athabasca a drop of water flows about 6200 km.

This is an upstream view of the Athabasca River. What looks like a ‘saddle’ on the mountain in the middle, is actually two mountain peaks. As we drove closer to town, the angle shifted and the distinct shape of both mountains became visible. Further upstream, people wade a 100 metres out into the river and, depending on snow melt, there is sometimes only the main channel of the river. Today, it is running high.

We don’t stop very often for mountain sheep. They are fairly common along the roadside, but we don’t often get an opportunity for a picture of a ewe and lamb.

We don’t often get this chance either. It appeared as though the little ones were learning climbing skills. This one stopped and posed; looking straight into the camera.

Mount Edith Cavell is a prominent feature in the Park. It is visible from a variety of locations and has many hiking trails. Park officials closed the mountain to hiking due to a recent ‘avalanche.’ The dark spot between the two large white areas was a large block of glacier which recently collapsed. We took the picture on Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) which is the highway to Banff.

This is Mount Kerkeslin which is on the opposite side of the Highway 93. We took this picture later in the day with shadows and it had become overcast with rain showers popping in and out of the area.

These are some palisades that tower over the valley a little further south of Mount Kerkeslin.

Today, we are off to do some hiking and sightseeing in Maligne Canyon and the Valley Five Lakes Loop.

Sabbath and Haiku Haven

I am unsure whether I will be back today. We are sorting out our home Internet issues. We think the router blew up in a recent storm. This was good, because it was an unplanned daily Sabbath for me.

On a routine morning drive, I observed the sun rising in my rear view mirror with the moon still visible. It was early in the school year and I had just returned from BC. I began that morning’s haiku class with poems which described phenomena I took for granted most days. I try to emphasize for students poetry is the routinely observed. Poetry lifts it to the extraordinary nature of things often taken for granted. I try model this through poetry chosen and shared i.e. Pablo Neruda and Mary Oliver and I write poetry on what I observe in life.


Touching endless sky above

Roots firmly grounded.

Greeting and adieu

Sun and moon share the one sky

Guide our daily drive.


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