The awe inspiring Canadian Rockies
After what seems like a long absence from Canada we are finally back and for the next two weeks our focus turns to bears in the state of Alberta and specifically Jasper National Park. June is a great month for spotting bears as its shortly after the time of year that both black and brown bears (aka Grizzly bear) emerge from their winter mountain dens to seek nutrition from greener meadows lower down in the valleys.
In addition it's also known as one of the best times in the wildlife calender to see 'cubs of the year', born over the winter months safe in the confines of their winter hideaway. Of course we were not just here to photograph bears, but hopefully also other endemic wildlife, including the many deer species. Perhaps if the gods were shining down on us this would maybe even include Wolf, Cougar and Lynx! Although we knew that these would be hard to capture as sightings of such are certainly not an every day encounter. However, in the spirit of optimism you never know!
Just a matter of hours after arriving in Calgary we were off and ready to immerse ourselves in the beautiful Canadian wilderness. The drive from Calgary to Jasper has been bestowed the title of being one of the most scenic drives in the world and a little after 90 minutes into the drive we could start to see why! It's at this point I am struggling to use any sentence that does not include a list of over used superlatives and adjectives to describe the beauty of the area! However, seriously it was mindblowingly awesome! From a flat Calgary landscape we could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance and that's where the excitement started to grow, it was where we were headed.
The terrain soon started to change as we entered Canmore, flatness became undulating hills and then as we headed nearer to Banff and Lake Louise underlating hills had been replaced with vast snow capped towering peaks. From here on in all the way to Jasper the scenary was nothing short of breathtaking. Around every corner were beautiful turquoise lakes, reflecting perfect mirror images of the mountains above or if not mountain lakes stunning icefields and glaciers. It was quite obvious at this point why so many people flock to this part of Canada to be in awe of the Canadian Rockies.
So what was expected to be a 4/5 hour drive turned into 7 hours, due to the amount of times we stopped and took shots of the ever changing mountain shapes and included in this was a short hike to the Athabasca glacier, another stunning site.
Of course what was at the back of our mind was bears! The anticipation of when we would see our first bear on this trip was almost too much to bare – excuse the pun! Well, it turned out we did not have to wait long as just an hour outside of Jasper we saw our first one on this trip, a black bear. It sauntered along the road side nibbling at dandelions and occasionally digging up roots before crossing the road and disappearing into the tree line. What a great welcome to Jasper.
Arriving in Jasper we were keen to first catch up with our good friend John. As we finally gained a cell phone signal we made communucation by text to advise of our arrival and we had a response that excited us! It involved a 'hello', followed by a location and the word 'cubs'! Oh yes, that's the type of text we like! Thank you John!
Soon enough we headed to where John was and met up, it was great to meet up again. After greetings and catching up on all the news we all headed together to where John had been earlier with a mother black bear and two cubs. Turning a bend there they were two tiny babies, just 4 months old and momma bear, close the the roadside. Scampering around the cubs popped in and out of the vegatation, the majority of time playing a little hard to get for any good images apart from one brief opportunity when one of the cubs stood still for more than a nano second and in clear view. They pottered around with an adorable cheekiness. We were in love, it was just an overload of cuteness!
Later in the evening we took a drive with John, to an area west of Jasper town and where brown bears had been seen fairly frequently in the last few days. Right on cue there beside the road was a brown bear, again feeding on the succulent roots.
So it had been a great start to the trip, having not even been in Canada for 24 hours we had seen our first black and brown bears and cubs. Hopefully this was going to be a good omen for the remainder of the trip!