Yes, 2014 Was A Very Good Year!

I think one of my favorite times of the year is the New Year.  For some, it’s about making BIG party plans and ringing in the new year with champagne toasts, dancing, and fireworks.  For me, it’s a much more reflective time … a time to take stock in the year’s adventures, personal achievements, challenges conquered along the way perhaps … and especially a time to look forward … to 2015!

I made a promise at the beginning of 2014 – to take the time needed to travel at least quarterly.  I wanted to experience new places, new adventures, new friends, and of course, new challenges.  I had some personal goals related to even this blog and I’m happy to say that I think that I accomplished most of them.  As usual, travel and photography went hand in hand and played a large role in my life for 2014.  I’ll try to re-cap some of it – very briefly – here.

I travel so much with Tom, aka my husband and “sherpa”, and I began to wonder if I could make it into the wilderness shooting without him.  LOL.  So, while he went off to snowboard for weeks on end, I decided to head out to Yellowstone NP in the dead of the winter (Jan) without him.  I wanted to see “what I was made of” … and to my surprise, I realized that when I needed to get it done myself, I actually could!  In addition, I made a bunch of wonderful friends as well on Daniel Cox’s Natural Exposure Invitational Photo Tour.

DSC_1663 Debbie ready for action. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming D669668 copy

For 4 months (Jan thru Apr), I had the pleasure of discovering that a pair of eastern screech owls had taken up residence in our owl boxes, but they graced us with raising 3 baby owlets as well.  I have to admit that it was a challenge, but the experience was incredible!  I’ll never forget my astonishment and joy when we peeked in, via a small “Go Pro-like” camera and saw 3 tiny furry owls, all bopping and circling their heads as owls do.  My heart melted and my love for owls immediately soared!

_DSC6821 _DSC3439

photo

In Feb we joined my daughter and her husband for some snowboarding/skiing in UT and a bit of photography as well.  I spent a few days at Antelope Island SP capturing bison, deer,  pronghorn, eagle, coyote, porcupine, and other images.  Loved it!

_DSC7954 _DSC8107 Of course, Everglades NP is always just around the corner for us, so several trips to photograph the migratory and resident birds were part of our year.

_DSC0892-4 _DSC2671-4

Orlando Wetlands Park was a new location for me Jess was gracious enough to show it to me one day.

_DSC1762-4

We also made it up to Vero Beach and Blue Cypress Lake for some osprey photography with Jess and Michael … always a pleasure.

DSC_2334-4

In April, we flew out to Denver and made the circuit between Denver, Colorado Springs (Garden of the Gods), Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Monument Valley, Moab, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point SP, and eventually Rocky Mountain NP.  For part of the trip, we met up with Rodney Lange for some landscape shooting, including some night photography.  We had such a great time!

DSC_4321-2 DSC_3946-2 DSC_4430-2 DSC_4675-2

From May to June, the early mornings and early evenings were filled with burrowing owl photography, as we’re blessed with having many burrows within 30 minutes of our home.  To spend hours with the parents and their young and literally watch them grow up before our eyes is always a thrill and an honor.

_DSC5697

_DSC6637-4

_DSC0126

_DSC6848

Another endearing time was had in June when I almost got to witness the hatching of a newborn sandhill crane colt.  I say almost because my friends and I witnessed the cracking of the egg, the hole in the egg enlarging, but the threatening skies kept us from the “whole enchilada” as they say.  The next morning we were thrilled to photograph the newborn colt as it already toured around the wetlands with both of its parents.  Yes, I’m also a craniac for sure!  (Shout out to Monique!)

_DSC3741

_DSC3698

A quick trip to the Palouse was also made, since I was already in San Diego for work.  The rolling hills of the farmlands and the shadows cast during sunrise and sunset provide for variations on the landscape … always beautiful.

_DSC7219-2

“The mountains are calling, so I must go” … for me that was the message I received from the Canadian Rockies.  In late June and early July, we traveled within Alberta and British Columbia to Yoho NP, Jasper NP, Banff NP, Lake Louise, Waterton Lakes NP, as well as Glacier NP in Montana.  Landscapes to die for were around every corner and amazing wildlife, as well as the company of good friends … I didn’t want to leave.

DSC_6796-2 DSC_6320-2 DSC_6934-2

Our last “big trip” was to Alaska, on our 8th trip.  It was as good as any of the others … and in some ways, even better.  From photographing the brown bears of the Russian River area, to flying out for a few days of Katmai NP bears (my personal favorites) – in the company of fellow photographer and friend Tom Blandford, to touring Valdez and kayaking the ice caves, to crossing for the first time the Denali Highway on our way to Denali NP and being treated to incredible scenery along the way during the day and the mystique of the northern lights in the darkness of the night, and finally varied conditions while staying at Denali NP, including a winter snowstorm … it was all a blast.  All that while catching up with our Alaskan friends.  🙂

_DSC3422

DSC_8508-2 DSC_2447

_DSC2138-2 _DSC2398-2 _DSC2586-2

It seemed fitting that on Dec. 20th, I returned to the Deering Estate to photograph the winter equinox and it’s sunrise … OK, I know that was one day early, but who cares, it was fabulous either way.

DSC_9571

So, as you can see, 2014 was an amazing year for us and one that will be hard to beat.  Of course, we’ll give it our best to do so.  As I reflect on my goals for this new year, I can assure you that 2015 will have some exciting adventures and big events as well, so stay tuned for more.

DSC_6167-2

Wishing everyone a wonderful and healthy 2015, with lots of photographic opportunities either in solitude or in the presence of friends (both good), but always one with nature.  🙂

Regards,

Debbie & Tom Tubridy (TNWA Photography)

Advertisements

Did I Ever Tell You That I Liked Bears?

My very favorite interactions with the wildlife happened one early evening.  We had just finished an early dinner in Waterton Lakes and I was feeling a bit tired.  “Let’s just take a drive through to see if anything’s out” Tom suggested.  I didn’t want to feel like the party pooper, so I agreed, but didn’t expect anything too exciting.  Thank goodness Tom suggested our drive because we came across a “wildlife jam” on the two-lane road.

Not knowing what was up ahead and realizing that it was still quite a bit up the road, we pulled over in a designated pullout.  We debated what to do … do we wait patiently for our turn, which undoubtedly means when the wildlife is gone … or do we get out, but not knowing what it was, I didn’t want to be “that person”.  Within a couple of minutes, we could see people leaving the scene and heading back to their vehicles.  Dang it, we missed it, I thought, but at least I wanted to know what it was.  When I questioned one of the spectators, he said it was a cub up a tree – close to the road.  I asked the stupid question … was it gone already?  To my surprise, he said no.  I figured that the park ranger must have been up there and made everyone move on, I mean they were impeding traffic for sure.

Finally, when it was clear, we made our way closer and sure enough, it was a dark black bear cub up a tree … the cutest thing ever!

_DSC0264

As I snapped away a few shots, I wondered where mom was.  A few others had joined us and no one knew.  I thought that perhaps it was abandoned and had genuine concern for its well-being.  Before long, I could see another cinnamon cub even higher up, but trying to shimmy down.  Also, the most adorable thing … and still no momma bear in sight.

_DSC0312

It was amazing to see them skillfully make their way down that tree.  We had a parks vehicle pull over next to us and I thought that we were going to be told to leave, but they actually thanked us for doing the right thing by pulling over – right side of the vehicle on the grass, with the left still on the road.  I asked about momma bear … they didn’t know.  My maternal instincts kicked in and I became the designated momma until it could be found.  🙂

There she was, waiting for them to come on down.  She must have ordered them up – probably due to the onlookers getting to close.  :-/

_DSC0384

As they reunited with their momma, these little cubs couldn’t have been any cuter!  They were frolicking and running amongst those beautiful wildflowers from the last post.  Yes, this was precisely the same place that Tom & I had earlier hiked.

_DSC0407 _DSC0426

Every so often, momma bear would stop and wait for them to catch up.

_DSC0621

They would promptly oblige her and race each other to join her.

_DSC0456

I secretly prayed for them to stand up … dang, my wish was their command.  First, the cinnamon cub stood up for me….

_DSC0674

… followed promptly thereafter by the black cub joining in.  I couldn’t believe how wonderful of a sighting it was and I blessed I felt.

_DSC0717

As they ran around a bit, every so often they would stand up again to investigate their surroundings.  I was beaming with delight!!  No joke.

_DSC0677

Mom would periodically venture on back to them, just to be sure that they were behaving and that all was well.   She would then continue on with her grazing.

_DSC0694

We were all in our cars and no bears felt threatened.  It’s so wonderful to watch bears … well, just being bears.  🙂

_DSC0705

It’s funny how you could literally see this black cub using its nose to sniff out details about its surrounding coming to it via the wind.

_DSC0712

Is this the poster child for bears or what?  Love it!

_DSC0733

“Momma, there’s people watching us … I can see it and smell it!”

_DSC0739

 

Several times park personnel stopped by us and asked us something quite interesting… they wanted to know if we saw the person in the 1st “wildlife jam” (the cubs up the tree) that was nasty to the onlookers and impersonated a park ranger and ordered everyone to leave!  They were quite serious about finding the person, as they had gotten several complaints about the rudeness of the individual.  Again, they thanked us for our time and said that if we learned anything about that encounter, to let them know.  So that explains why everyone was leaving when the wildlife was still around.  Probably explains the cubs being up the tree as well.

Eventually we realized that we had enough of the amazing encounter, though honestly I could have photographed them forever.  Tom finally got me to agree to let them be … but not before another shot of momma bear and each of the cubs!  Heehee.

_DSC0764 _DSC0770

We drove back to our lodging with a HUGE smile on my face … kind of like when I’m flying back to Homer from Katmai NP.  Now, and only now, can I leave Canada!

Next blog post will feature Waterton Lakes NP’s sister park in the US … Glacier National Park.  Stay tuned!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Waterton Lakes NP – Here We Come!

Well, Good Morning!  What better way to start a fresh new day than this amazing breakfast!  Rocky Ridge Mountain Lodge is a wonderful B&B in Mountain View, Alberta, not far from Waterton Lakes NP.  The accommodations are wonderful, the people are very friendly, but the FOOD is beyond description!  Yum, Yum!  Makes me want to stay all week!

photo 1 Even as we walk out the doors, photographic opportunities abound, as this magnificent barn is right outside.

DSC_6787

But onward we go to Waterton Lakes NP.  A bit about the park itself … it has been described as “where the mountains meet the prairie” and one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountains.  It was designated in 1895 as Canada’s 4th national park and is the smallest NP in the Canadian Rockies.  It shares a border with Glacier National Park in Montana, US.  In 1932, both parks united in their purpose and they together were named an International Peace Park, a symbol of peace and good will between the United States & Canada.  In 1979, it received the designation as a Biosphere Reserve.  In 1995, UNESCO designated the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park a World Heritage Site.  Quite cool!

We first ventured out to Cameron Lake, a lovely lake nestled between the mountain peaks of the Akamina Ridge.  Outdoor activities in the area include hiking, but also water activities such as kayaking and canoeing.

DSC_6796

The hike at Cameron Lake is an easy one, yet affords the guest a wonderful experience and views.  If one is lucky, you might even find some grizzly bears feeding on the mountainside.  We didn’t … but we did find LOTS of hungry mosquitos!

DSC_6806

Towards the southern end of the lake, the 49th parallel north actually runs through and into the United States – Glacier County, MT.  So these paddlers, if they keep going will actually paddle from Canada to the US.  How cool is that?  What a great icebreaker statement to make in a group setting – I once paddled from Canada to the US – LOL – I can hear it now.

DSC_6815

Rivers and creek abound seemingly everywhere in this gorgeous park.

DSC_6826

Wildflowers were just beginning to present themselves and they were so beautiful.  No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t capture their beauty and do it justice.

DSC_6861

Over 1/2 of Alberta plant species can be found in Waterton Lakes NP.  Now that’s quite impressive!  Tom & I hiked amongst them for a while, of course, looking for wildlife.  Nothing much seen during the day.

DSC_6879

We visited the area again in the evening and found a quite different situation … this place was crawling with bears!  More on that in the next blog post, but I did want to show this cinnamon black bear (yes, black bears don’t have to be black … they can be blonde or often, cinnamon, as in this case).  Well, the cool thing about this very cropped image below is that this bear was about 150 yards away when I first saw it and snapped an image.  At that point, this bear started running towards us (yes, I was I was in my car).

_DSC0810

I snapped off a quick series of images as it came closer to the road and crossed quickly right in front of us.

_DSC0821

I continued to shoot him/her until it was about another 100 yards on the other side of the road in the adjacent field.  I remember being impressed with just how quickly it traveled.  As I posting this image, I got the idea to check the time lapsed from the first shot to the last that I took.  How long do you think it took for it to travel approximately 250 yards?

_DSC0827

It was precisely less than 8 seconds!!!  Now I know that some of us think we’re fast … but come on, there’s no way you could outrun this bear!  Keep that in mind the next time you’re hanging out with bears … 🙂

As we were heading back to our lodging, we came across these two sub-adult bears.  One was black, the other was more blonde … both were black bears and were probably just evicted from the mom.  They wandered the hillside together and seemed to enjoy each other’s company as they figured out how to survive on their own.  See, mama bears don’t raise cubs that suffer from “failure to launch” syndrome, like some humans do.  LOL.  Maybe some humans could learn a thing or two from bears.  Actually, I know that we all could.  🙂

_DSC0908More bears in the next blog, as we continue to explore Waterton Lakes NP!  Stay tuned for more.

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.comWat

 

 

Driving Through the Countryside

All set for our travels out of the Lake Louise/Banff area and on to our next destination … Waterton Lakes National Park, but first I had always heard of the Cascade Ponds, had never been there, and wanted to experience it for myself.  Our day turned out to be a blah one and I was totally unimpressed with the bright orange plastic fencing, etc in the background.  But I had to just take one anyway.  :-/

DSC_6713

So far during our trip, we encountered lots of black bears, a few grizzly bears, lots of elk, some mule deer, and bighorn sheep.  We hadn’t seen a moose yet, but our luck was changed when we found this moose taking a swim in a small pond.

_DSC0124

It’s funny, because after spending lots of time in Alaska, I tend to come across ponds near forested areas and I always say how it would be prime moose territory.  Well, that’s kind of how this afternoon went as well.  I had to laugh at how it casually swam around for a bit, eating the vegetation, and checking out the onlookers.  I couldn’t help but notice all of the flies that were surrounding the poor guy.  I’m sure the water provided a welcome relief from them … everywhere except for his head!

_DSC0135

Eventually the moose decided that he had enough of the pond and slowly, but surely made his way first towards us, then laterally out of the pond.  We watched as he disappeared into the forest.  I remember thinking how fortunate we were to spot him enjoying the water and quietly wondered how many other ponds had we passed where the moose had just exited the scene.  🙂

_DSC0140

A little fun along the road towards Waterton Lakes … when we came across a barb wire fence with wooden posts … but each post was adorned with a hat.  I would imagine that those driving by would see it and make their own donation.  It wasn’t just a few either …

DSC_6724

… as the fence went on and on!  I wished at that point I had a spare hat to “donate” and make my mark, but I needed the one that I had, as the sun was out strong.

DSC_6728

OK, so one of the most beautiful sights I remember seeing in the Palouse area of Washington state was the fields of canola crops along the way.  I thought that I had left it all behind, but alas, here were more.

DSC_6730

It reminded me of a golden carpet … all woven and full of texture.  Tom denied me the right to run through them, probably for good reason.  LOL

_DSC0173

Tom doesn’t like this shot due to the power lines, but hey, I love it anyway for showing the contrast between the golden canola fields and the irrigation trench that ran through it.  Oh, did I mention those magnificent building clouds?

DSC_6740

Along the way I had a flashback to my early college years, where I started out pursuing agriculture and I began to wonder why I changed from that to nutrition science.  Funny how things turn out, though I guess they are somewhat related.  I believe that this drive was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken.  OK, back to the present!

DSC_6743

Once we arrived at Waterton Lakes National Park, the first sight most visitors see, and drool and marvel at, is the Prince of Wales Hotel.  It sits perched high and overlooks the Upper Waterton Lakes.  It was built by an American, versus a Canadian, railway company (still the only one in Canada) and opened in 1927.  It was built to lure American tourists across the border during prohibition.  In 1995, it was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.  It’s simply a site for sore eyes!

DSC_6759

We didn’t stay there though I’m sure it’s lovely.  We stayed just a bit away in a town called Mountain View at a lovely B&B.  Gorgeous countryside, gorgeous views, and an incredible sunset.

DSC_6775

More on Waterton Lakes National Park on the next blog.  Stay tuned.

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Wildlife & Landscapes of Banff NP

Another adventure in Banff National Park started out early in the morning with a sighting of a collared grizzly bear (hence no photo taken) and her two spring cubs.  They were busy sticking close to mom while she was grazing on the grasses.

_DSC9073

Not sure if they totally understood what they were doing or why, but they were certainly giving “grass grazing” a fair shake of their own.  They were so incredibly adorable!

_DSC9089

On our adventure drive, we came across a herd of bighorn sheep ewes and several lamb as well.  One of the momma ewes stopped and gave me a discerning glance, as if to determine if I was friend or foe.  The others went about their activities, but she remained perfectly still and steadfast in her heavy stare.

_DSC9107

I hadn’t noticed but she had a lamb right beside her laying down in the grasses.  All of a sudden, it stood up.

_DSC9233

Then they began to run and I thought to myself … what did I do to frighten them?  But I knew it was sudden and purposeful … and they were running towards me for most of the run, then continued on past me.

_DSC9277

It simply warmed my heart to see this little one prancing right along side of its mama.  Love how it would get airborne with all 4 feet off the ground at once.  🙂

_DSC9280

As I was trying to figure it all out, I turned around and this is what I saw ….

_DSC9460

So, they weren’t running from me, but from this beautiful red fox off in the distance nestled in the woods.  That was incredible to me that they knew it was there.  I hadn’t heard it or seen it, but somehow they knew.  That’s one good mama!

We left the area when they ran, but then returned about 30 minutes later and tried to find them again.  Sure enough, we did.  But this time they were down the embankment a bit and on a cliff edge, so I didn’t pursue them any further.  Mama checked us out, then the lamb peeked its head up.  My heart melted  <3.

_DSC9485

I knew that the lighting was very harsh from this angle, but it didn’t matter to me.  I mean, how cute is this little lamb?  In a weird way, I could sense that they were comfortable with us being there.  In the wild, sometimes animals with young ones feel comfortable enough with “proven humans” that they feel more protected in their presence.  I had a feeling that it might be the case right now.

_DSC9541

Not too much further we found this ram laying down somewhat near the edge of the road.  It seemed to tolerate us quite well too, as I hung outside my window snapping images of him and his amazing curl.

_DSC0223

After some time, it got quite interested in us and approached us – slowly, but surely.  Before long, a few other cars saw it, stopped and pursued it, and I had to bite my tongue to not say anything.  Though the one guy who was out of his car and remained there as it approached him probably needed a change of his drawers when the ram brushed up against him, as he pinned against his car.  I believe I heard him mumble “don’t gore me” at that precise moment.  LOL.  I couldn’t help but think that he at least learned his lesson, as the ram passed him safely.

_DSC9922

We arrived at Two Jack picnic area much later than we anticipated due to the wildlife sightings, but that was well worth it.  Luckily, the wind was still at a standstill and I was so impressed by the view!

DSC_6621

I couldn’t decide if I liked the first one better (closer up) or the second one (further away) with that amazing reflection as well, but with the added clarity of the rocks through the clear water.  I think probably the second … how about you?

DSC_6640

The wildflowers everywhere were an added bonus of delight and beauty.

DSC_6654

We then ventured into the town of Banff and as we did, for some strange reason, I thought I saw a moose!  I jumped out and totally abandoned Tom in the traffic.  LOL.  Of course, it wasn’t a moose, but a really nice looking bull elk … nice rack, eh?  This is the view of him as these two hikers turned a corner without seeing him and were probably 4-5 feet from him.  They were quite pleased that I warned them and may have needed a “fresh pair” as well when they saw what was directly behind them.  LOL

_DSC9967

Any wildlife photographer knows all too well my next statement … you never have the right lens with you when you need it … yes, I was trying to shoot this bull elk, from close range, with my 300mm prime lens.  So, I quickly had to change my plans and shoot its antlers only.

_DSC9999

Banff, the day after Canada Day, was quite crowded, so we didn’t stay long.  Just wanted to capture this shot of Bow River.

DSC_6663

The Vermilion Lakes Drive had been closed due to aggressive bears in the area, but had just re-opened on this day.  It’s always a special spot to spend some time.  There were numerous kayakers out that day and I remember telling Tom that we had to bring ours next time.

DSC_6690

Mount Rundle looming in the background, with the complimentary wispy clouds … so beautiful!

DSC_6693

It was quite a warm afternoon that day, so we took off our hiking shoes and dipped out feet and legs into the cool water of the lake.  We laid down on the dock for a bit, soaking up the sunshine, the sights and sounds of the area, and the fresh air.  Yes, this is the life and I could easily get used to it.  🙂

DSC_6691

Who wants to venture off now to Waterton Lakes National Park???  I do, I did, and so will you on the next blog post!  Stay tuned ….

DSC_6644

© 2014 Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Bow Valley Parkway

One evening, we timed our adventure to the best time that we could, considering the restrictions … see more below.  So, as we left our “home”, we could hear a Columbian Ground Squirrel calling out loudly, essentially begging for his image to be taken.  Of course, for good luck, we obliged.

_DSC8812

No trip to the Canadian Rockies and Banff NP would ever be complete without a trip down the infamous Bow Valley Parkway … especially for the wildlife enthusiast.

DSC_6584

See The Bow Valley Parkway, aka Alberta Highway 1A, is about a 48-km scenic secondary highway which parallels the Trans-Canadian Highway between the town of Banff and the Village of Lake Louise.  It offers beautiful views along the way, but it’s best known for its wildlife habitat.

DSC_6585It provides critical habitat for the larger carnivores, such as the wolves, cougars, and bears, just to name a few.  During March 1st through June 25th, there’s a time restriction placed on travel on a 17-km section between the Trans-Canadian Highway/Bow Valley interchange and Johnston Canyon Campground, with no travel allowed from 8pm to 8am.  To maximize our chances of seeing wildlife, yet still allowing us to do other things in the morning, we decided to head out at around 6:30pm.

It wasn’t long before we came across our first and only wildlife on the drive …

_DSC8837

_DSC8910

This bear seemed completely oblivious to us as it went about its feeding ritual.  I loved how the bear was in the process of shedding it’s winter fur as evidence on its rump.

_DSC9014

We also had to laugh quite a bit as this one sat down near us and scratched away on its apparent itchy spot!

_DSC9023 We’ve driven this drive before and been skunked on that visit, so at least this time we saw this bear.  But it made the trip worth it all anyways, by the amazing views along the way, such as these.

DSC_6604

DSC_6610

That and the fact that it was virtually empty of traffic and tourists.  Yes, we were pleasantly surprised!  I couldn’t help but wonder how it would be at 8am … or how it would be on June 26th, when the restrictions were lifted.  Either way, I’m impressed that they actually try to protect the animals and support their existence and the ban on traffic allows the predators to use the roadways as they travel in pursuit of dinner, etc.

DSC_6618

Would I visit there again?  Absolutely!!!

photo

Next up:  More from Banff National Park … fox, bighorn sheep, elk, and … you guessed it, more bears!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Heaven on Earth

By far, I think that one of the most beautiful places in the world is the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies.  It has so much to offer … landscapes with mountains, glaciers, streams & lakes … wildlife sightings of bear, mule deer, and perhaps elk … solitude, yes, solitude in a touristy town, now that’s quite the feat!

When you visit the Canadian Rockies in the very early summer and you want to take some “just prior to sunrise shots”, you’ve got to be prepared to get up very early!  LOL.  We stayed in the northern end of Lake Louise and had about a 30-minute drive to our first destination, so it was early!

Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake within Banff National Park, just outside the boundaries of the Village of Lake Louise.  When the snow melt reaches it peak, in about mid to late June, the lake turns a magnificent blue … due to the refraction of light on the rock flour suspended in the lake, much like at Peyto Lake in the earlier blog.  If this view looks vaguely familiar … it should for it is hailed as one of the diamonds of Canada.  In the backdrop of the actual itself is what’s called The Valley of the Ten Peaks (the mountain peaks that is).  This view has been honored to be on their $20 bills in the past.  It’s absolutely breathtaking!

DSC_6447

There are several trails from the area offering different views of the beauty.  The one below is from the Rockpile Trail – a short hike with a climb up onto literally a pile of rocks which offers the viewer some elevation.

DSC_6408

There’s also another trail off to the left called the Consolation Lakes Trail.  It’s much longer and a higher elevation climb and offers incredible views as well.  We’ve done it in the past, but not this year.  See, Moraine Lake is known for its concentration of bears and Banff NP takes bears quite seriously.  Often trails are closed due to higher bear activity.  Even more often precautions are in place, which include restrictions to hiking in the area.  Hikers may only venture out in parties of at least four, carry bear sprays, and be no more than something like 3 feet from each other.  They say … Prepare (bear spray & education) … Be Aware (watch for signs of bear activity) … Let Bears Know That You’re There (make noise to avoid a surprise).  Funny, the bears are one of the reasons I’m there!  LOL    So we didn’t take it this year, but we did make our way around the lakeshore trail a bit.  Can you imagine canoeing anywhere else???  Beauty beyond any belief!

DSC_6468

Now in the Village of Lake Louise, there’s actually a Lake Louise.  That’s where the famous hotel is located.  It’s very beautiful as well, but to me, I much prefer Moraine Lake.

DSC_6482

Just outside of that area is probably my favorite place of all … Herbert Lake.  It’s incredibly beautiful, much less crowded, and a little slice of heaven on earth to me.  Every, and I do mean every, time that we drove by the area, I absolutely make Tom stop there, so I could absorb in all of that beauty.

DSC_6512

It’s not just the mountain reflections that are beautiful there … even the trees all lined up on the shore offer beauty and awe.

DSC_6494I literally could just stay here all day and get variations of the magnificent place.  Speaking of wildlife, we saw lots of traces of bear activity there, though never ran into “Yogi” or “BooBoo”.  Good thing … we were just two and had no spray … which is something we personally never carry anyway.  Seriously, I don’t think that this area was part of the restriction anyway.  I wouldn’t go breaking their rules anyway … I have a feeling that they’re pretty serious about it.

DSC_6389

Not too far along the Icefields Parkway is another cool place … Crowfoot Glacier.  I’m pretty sure that it’s a bit smaller than 3 years ago when I was last here.  Kind of sad.

DSC_6526

Bow Lake is also an amazing place to see.  It also offers amazing reflection opportunities early in the morning or when the wind is absent.

DSC_6534

DSC_6545

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is a resort nestled on the shore of Bow Lake.  Quite an interesting place which offers fabulous views right outside your door.  As you can see, it’s also quite isolated, which to us is a major plus!

_DSC8720

Tom loves to play around with his macro lens and shoot some of the wildflowers we find along the way.  These are a few that we saw on a hike in the wilderness, right after lunch one day.

_DSC0164

_DSC0167

Before we headed back to our “home away from home”, we decided to check out Peyto Lake again.  Big mistake … it was so crowded with hoards of tourists all trying to get that selfie shot with the lake and mountains in the background.  Ugh!  Once I found my opportunity, I took my landscape shot and made a run for it.  LOL.  It may have been crowded, but it sure was beautiful either way.

DSC_6552

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, I had to stop one last time at Herbert Lake … breathe, exhale, breathe, exhale, breathe, exhale … and onward back to our lodge for dinner…. and a glass of wine.  🙂

DSC_6487

Next on tap … The Bow Valley Parkway in Banff NP.  Stay tuned!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

 

The Icefields Parkway

In the US, we celebrate the 4th of July as our National holiday, but in Canada, it’s called Canada Day and it’s on July 1st.  I knew from the last time that I was in Canada during that time, that there were several places I didn’t want to be, so off we went towards a favorite of mine … Jasper NP.  Since we had spent the night in Golden, it was pretty much a full day’s drive, especially since there are so many wonderful sights to see along the way.

So on to the Icefields Parkway we went.  One of the first places I wanted to visit was the infamous Peyto Lake.  You have to get there early if you don’t want to be crawling in the middle of tons of tourists, who emerge by the busloads.  When we reached the parking lot, we were greeted by several beautiful gray jays.  They were hopping around in the area and seemingly posing for the camera from time to time.

_DSC7277

At Bow Summit, Peyto Lake can be seen below where it sits at an elevation of 6,168 feet. It’s quite an amazing sight too, as it spans 1.75 mi long and 2,625 feet wide.  Though the most distinctive and striking attribute it possesses is its color – a bright turquoise color achieved by the glacial rock flour which remains suspended in its water during the summer months.  This is not photoshop-enhanced … it’s truly this beautiful.

DSC_6234

Once back out on the Icefields Parkway again, it doesn’t take long before we encounter our first bear, a black bear feeding on the green grasses not too far from the road.  It was drizzling a bit just prior to this shot, so this bear had fur full of detail._DSC7531

It never ceases to amaze me what people do when they spot wildlife … and it’s no different in Canada than in the US.  Sometimes common sense goes right out the window … or should I say the door … as they drop everything to try to get the best shot of the wildlife, sometimes endangering themselves and everyone else around them.  This bear was tolerating them, but I distinctly heard it huffing once or twice.

_DSC7572 At that point I told Tom that we should move on down the road, not wanting to watch any mayhem unfold.  🙂

Again, it wasn’t too long before we came upon another black bear, but by the time we got there safely, it had already begun to retreat into the brush a bit.  Probably a good thing.

_DSC7615

After entering Jasper NP, but still out of the township of Jasper, we came across Medicine Lake, which is quite the interesting place.  See, during the summer, the glacial melt fills up this lake, as seen below.

DSC_6274

But in the fall and winter seasons, the lake essentially disappears!  What’s more, at that time, there are no visible channels indicating the path of the drainage.  What happens is that the Maligne River pours into the lake and Medicine Lake drains out through sinkholes in the bottom of the lake.  The water then streams through an underground cave system and it surfaces again in Maligne Canyon.  This makes it one of the largest sinking rivers in the western hemispheres and possibly the largest inaccessible cave system in the world!  Now that’s impressive!

DSC_6294

Another impressive place to stop and visit along the way is the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, on the edge of Bow Lake.  Though we didn’t lodge there, we did take in the views from their parking lot.DSC_6355

DSC_6367

Yes, the approach to Jasper, Alberta and the heart of Jasper NP is a fascinating one!  There is “eye candy” from almost every angle, almost the entire way into town.

DSC_6320

One word of advice to all whom might venture there … don’t just fly by the seat of your pants like Tom & I did.  We arrived into Jasper, with no prior reservation – on the wave of Canada Day weekend – and almost had to turn around and head back to other areas.  Thankfully we did manage to find a last minute accommodation, but it was close!

Next blog will delve into Jasper NP and the wildlife that we encountered along the way.  Stay tuned!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography (www.tnwaphotography.com)

 

Rocky Mountains … Canada-Style

It had been over 2-1/2 years since we had visited the Canadian Rockies and this year, I wanted to visit in the early summer versus the fall, to try to get a varied feel for the area in the change of seasons.  I had been once at this same time of year, but it was about 15 years ago.  So while Tom was still away on his cross-country trip (color me green LOL), I planned a trip back out again and boarded a plane to Calgary, where Tom promptly picked me up and off we went.  I arrived late at night, so I couldn’t see the Canadian landscape well at all, as we drove west to Canmore for the night.

DSC_5973

The next morning we awoke and made quick time heading back out on the road.  We continued west through Banff and drove straight through to British Columbia and the town of Golden.  Along the way, we passed many miles of interesting landscapes, towns, and neighborhoods.  One of my favorites for uniqueness was a home found off the beaten path near Mount 7.  I called it “the original underground living” and I hoped that no one minded me sneaking a shot of it.

DSC_5974

There were also country scenes complete with grassy fields, wooden fences, and of course, horses.

DSC_5980

Mount 7 holds particular interest to Tom and so we drove up the dirt road to investigate what it had to offer.  See, on our last visit, we watched paragliders soar overhead for what seemed like a MUCH longer flight than Tom’s flight in Alaska near Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.  Though we never made it to the top, we still found cool stuff to photograph.

DSC_5967

After spending the night in Golden and catching up on some much needed sleep, we woke early and drove to Emerald Lake within Yoho National Park.  When we first arrived, it was thick with fog and I was a bit disappointed.  Before long (literally within say 15 minutes) the tour buses started arriving and busloads of tourists were emerging, like ants out of a disturbed ant hill.  LOL

DSC_6083

Trying to escape the crowds and make the best of the dreary day, we decided to head off quickly on a hike around the lake’s shoreline.  It was pretty wet and mucky, but the thick canopied trees sheltered us a bit from the rain, which varied in intensity as we encircled the lake.  Periodically, there were boardwalks over what must have been the more swampy areas of the hike.  At first, I was excited to see them, but soon I realized that they were quite slick and therefore, slippery.  Didn’t want to slip and fall with my gear!

DSC_6150

At times, the skies appeared to show a glimpse of blue sky patches here and there and the rain would stop, but it mainly stayed a bit drizzly.  However, that being said, it really made the views quite spectacular, especially since the winds did seem to die down and the reflections were gorgeous!

DSC_6175

DSC_6182

Each angle at the lake offered something different … and each view was quite unique and pleasing.  Couldn’t even figure out where it looked the nicest.  All that I knew was that this wasn’t the same “Emerald Lake” that I had visited before and though I didn’t think it was possible, I think that it was even more beautiful.

DSC_6114

_DSC9966

I have to laugh when I recall how I pursued a pair of loons for quite some time.  They’re pesky little things whose moves aren’t easily predictable… well, except to predict wherever I thought they would emerge from their underwater swim, it would be somewhere else!  LOL.  Unfortunately, that is not a joke.

_DSC9999

Probably one of the most entertaining things that I remember most though was the very active goings-on of the swallows.  See, we ate at the lovely restaurant at the resort and on our way out, Tom noticed a nest that the swallows were building – inside the restaurant mind you… well, at least inside that first entry door.

_DSC0099

We watched as the swallows would make a beeline into the restaurant door when a patron would enter or exit.  Swosh!  Right over the head of the unsuspecting visitor.  We laughed, though the restaurant supervisors weren’t as entertained, and they took down the nest.  Outside, we watched the action repeat itself over and over … swallow flies out to grab some twigs …

_DSC0142-2

swallow then goes and dabs the twigs in the mud …

_DSC0144-2 swallow then returns to “nest in construction” with its next round of building materials.  It might seem silly, but I had never witnessed that before.

_DSC0146-2

_DSC0103

Emerald Lake is full of beauty, outdoor activities, wildlife, and landscapes galore!  If you go to the Canadian Rockies, be sure to add it to your list!

_DSC9958

Stay tuned for more!

DSC_6167

© Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

On a side note, this marks my 50th Blog post!  How exciting!  Thanks for your interest!