Sunday, 3 January 2016

Quick Jasper Trip

     Jasper National Park is certainly one of our greatest natural assets, no matter when you visit. It is also one of my favorite places to visit for a long weekend getaway. We purchased our annual park pass for $140.00, so now we can visit all Canadian National parks for the year. We spent New Years Eve here this year. Parks Canada had a "night sky" festival going on but we chose to do that on our own. We spent the chilly evening trying to get photos of Northern Lights in a spectacular star-filled sky. We saw a couple of glimmers and beginnings of Aurora but nothing spectacular. While warming up in the dark car, I was reminded of amorous days of our youth while at drive-in theatres or watching submarine races. The next morning I saw on Facebook some fantastic aurora photos taken but all around 1:00 and 3:00 am. I am a cold and sleepy photographer that turns into a sleepy Popsicle long before that time.
Star Light Over Old Cabin
     Midnight saw us tucked warmly into my overpriced bed for the night. This over priced hotel was twice what it cost me for the same room two or three weeks earlier, thanks to being New Years Eve. Oh well.
Hoar Frost Covered River Flat

     We were out of town fairly quickly the next day headed toward the ice fields and Saskatchewan Crossing where we take off on the Cowboy Trail to Rocky Mountain House before heading straight home. This whole drive is one filled with spectacular mountain scenery and, today, good roads. Brilliant sunlight lit hoar-frost decorated forests and highlights sparkling snow and ice-covered aqua-colored rivers. The temperature varies from about -26 to +5 in some places along the David Thompson Highway.
     We pause at a couple of ice flows where dare-devil ice climbers chip their way up icicles clinging to the sides of wet weeping rock walls. Not a challenge for the faint-of-heart or me, for sure.
Ice Climbers on Weeping Wall

     We did see warning signs and ribbon marking off an area where a grizzly bear had mauled an ice climber who had disturbed his sleep about a month or so ago.
     One of the hazards of driving on the highways at this time of the year are the little birds that are collecting grit from the road. Sandy grit is used to provide traction for vehicles but creates a tremendous hazard for birds that require grit for their digestion. When I got home and washed the car, I picked a sparrow sized, red-crossbill from my grill. I know I hit more of them and did see some lying on the highway, future raven food I guess. I tried to miss as many little flocks as I could see in time.
     Speaking of raven, I managed to get a few photos of a beggar raven in one of the pull-outs. He was scavenging for a handout but got nothing more than immortality through my photos.
Raven Portrait

     There are many things to do while visiting the National Parks, at any time of year. Ice climbing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sight-seeing, wildlife watching and photography can be done during the day. There is a great night life in many pubs and restaurants in the town sites.
     Next weekend, we are off to Banff for a photo seminar,my first. I have always wanted to try one of these workshops so now I will get to see if they are worth while or not. I am looking forward to it and will report later.

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