Dawn at Two Jack Lake in the Banff National Park

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2600

With the cooler days that have come with November, we have had some snow fall up in the mountains.  I went up to Two Jack Lake for sunrise on Friday to see how things would look with a bit of snow in the picture.  Facing Mount Rundle and her reflection in the water there was just the odd skiff of snow along the shoreline.  The color deepened in the sky for a few minutes before it started to color the clouds clinging to the mountain.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2610

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2607-2

When I first arrived, the sun was still a while away from lighting up the clouds.  The darker scene, below, allowed for a longer exposure and more stretch to the clouds and water.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2585

I love this time of year when snow starts to build up and the scenic opportunities shift to one dominated by the white blanket that settles unevenly across the land.  Winter in the Banff National Park is probably my favourite time of the year there.  It is exciting to be on the edge of it.

Two Jack Sunrise in Banff - © Christopher Martin-2648



Rutting Elk in the Bow Valley

Bull Elk Rutting in Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1946

A small herd of bull elk were gathered near Moose Meadows on the Bow Valley Parkway when I was there on the weekend.  The frost bleached the grass and the cold air made the breath visible.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1945

These were mature adults with massive antlers and they were putting them to use.  The rut is on and these elk were challenging each other repeatedly.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1896

They would be eating grass and then stare at another one.  Soon after, they would stalk slowly towards each other and lock antlers. Once entwined, a push and a pull fight would take place.  Unlike Bighorn sheep battles where they smash into each other, these were shoving matches.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1929

It was a cold morning which made for a particularly appealing scene to watch these giants battle.  The elk below was noticeably larger than the others and only one bull challenged him in the half hour that I watched.  That contest seemed like more of a measuring stick for the smaller one as it was short and there was no real challenge.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2063

He wandered off after a while heading for the trees and leaving the others to graze and continue the odd skirmish.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2087

Autumn dawn at Elbow Falls

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1173

Elbow Falls is a place that I have spent a lot of time at over a number of years.  This past weekend the morning was one of the most enjoyable mornings I have had there.  The sunrise came in gently and the colors grew beautifully – painting the clouds and reflecting in the water above and below the waterfall.

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1160

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1132

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1108

Elbow Falls, Autumn Dawn - © Christopher Martin-1121

Angling on Wedge Pond

Angling in Wedge Pond - © Christopher Martin-0764

I visited Wedge Pond to check on the fall colors and their reflection in the water.  The larch and aspen in Kananaskis now have their leaves falling but a week ago the golds were still at their best.  Among the rippled mirror on the pond’s surface, there was a fisherman fly casting from a float.  Seemed like a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Angling in Wedge Pond - © Christopher Martin-0755

Angling in Wedge Pond - © Christopher Martin-0747

Sarrail Falls – a waterfall in the woods

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0634

The Sarrail Falls that spill across several terraces before emptying into the Upper Kananaskis Lake is a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by heavy forest in the steep hillside of Mount Sarrail’s lower slopes.  The path to this waterfall starts at the lake’s eastern parking lot and is set just above the shoreline.  It is a comfortable trail that is about 1-1.15 km to this feature but carries on around the entire lake.  I had planned to complete the loop but spent almost two hours watching, photographing, enjoying and studying the waterfall instead.

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0727

The 2013 flood hit this creek heavily destroying the bridge as well as sending tree trunks and boulders cascading down.  These are still found perched, lodged or lying nearby all along the water’s path.  I found a beauty in these that added to the overall scene and suggested to me the cycles of birth, growth and death as well as of constant change.  Along with the varying crescendos of the water’s orchestra, I found myself enjoying some deep thoughts and the time to chew on them – a luxurious gift to allow oneself!

Sarrail Falls in Kananaskis - © Christopher Martin-0665

At the end, with the morning moving quickly towards noon, I chose the short walk back and the lunch I had waiting for me.

An autumn morning reflected in Upper Kananaskis Lake

Upper Kananaskis Lake - © Christopher Martin-0586

I started a great day in Kananaskis earlier this weekend walking along the shoreline of the Upper Kananaskis Lake in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  At sunrise I was photographing a pair of moose, a mother and her calf, in a meadow and I ended up spending most of the morning at the Sarrail Falls.  However, when I parked near the boat launch at the lake, the soft light, subtle autumn accents, calm water and brilliant reflection of the mountains in the water mesmerized me for several minutes.  I had the lake to myself for a little while and enjoyed the beauty immensely.

Morning reflected in Upper Kananaskis Lake - © Christopher Martin-0593

A bold young moose

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4834

This calf and his mother were in the Bragg Creek Provincial Park, grazing on the edge of the forest near the road.  With momma close by, the calf was bolder than I expected.  He stared at me from a few paces in the trees before crossing the road and walking very close to my car.

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4751

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4825

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4846

Once he had checked me out, then he skipped back again and joined in snacking on the greenery.

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4786

Parkour Kian at Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3260
When Kian and I were visiting Waterton we went up to explore the Red Rock Canyon.  Kian loved running on the slick rock and leaping back and forth across the stream.

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3257

I always love photographing him and when he’s in motion doubly so!  This was on the first day of our boys trip and set a great tone for the weekend.

Red Rock Canyon - © Christopher Martin-3252

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3231

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3280

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3281

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3282

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3286

Red Rock Canyon Parkour - © Christopher Martin-3244

Summer residents at Frank Lake

Singing from the grasstops - © Christopher Martin-6632

Frank Lake is just east of High River in southern Alberta and is a great location for birding throughout the year.  In the summer, ibis, herons, avocets, blackbirds, ducks, pelicans and a menagerie of other avians congregate there for their summer residence.

A Black-crowned night heron stalks along a fencepost.

Black-crowned night heron at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7854

On a recent visit, I enjoyed watching and photographing a number of these birds.  The Black-crowned night heron above was of particular interest to me as it stalked along this fence above a stream where it emptied into the lake.

A shorebird at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6819Summer among the reeds in Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6593
Flight over Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7036

White pelicans at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7668

Avocet reflected in Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7175

Ibis at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6637

Chief Mountain

The Chief over gold - © Christopher Martin-3954

When I was in Waterton with my son our campsite had a beautiful view of Chief Mountain.  Over the couple of days we stayed there, I grabbed a few images of the mountain through the evenings.  I love its profile from this direction and the surrounding landscape is magical.

Waterton at dusk - © Christopher Martin-3371

The Chief at at dusk - © Christopher Martin-3425

Aurora Borealis in Waterton

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4124

My son and I camped at the Waterton Springs Campground, on the edge of the national park, a week ago.  On the second night the Northern Lights came out and danced along the northern horizon.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4127

The campground is in the rolling foothills that lead up to the mountains so it was less than a hop, skip and a jump to a rise where we could get great views of aurora.

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4148

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4091

Aurora Borealis over Waterton Spring Campground - © Christopher Martin-4101

Dusk in the Crowsnest Pass

Crowsnest Dusk - © Christopher Martin-3199

I had a wonderful getaway camping with my son in the Waterton National Park last weekend.  Along the way down there, I travelled through the Crowsnest Pass just as the sunlight was slipping off the peaks and giving way to the night.  I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the transition and this photograph is the one I made from the many peaks stacked around the valley.  A mountain unknown to me but beautiful in its isolation.

August 16th update – my Uncle Bill, Auntie Ann and cousins Chad and Darren, who lived in the Crowsnest Pass area for many years, discussed this peak and confirmed that it is Mount Tecumseh.  Thank you family!


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