Kananaskis

Cat Creek Waterfall

 

We started the September long weekend with a family hike up Cat Creek on the southern side of Kanananskis.  It’s a short walk through the forest that offers beautiful views down the Foothills and more intimate scenes in the valley.  It was late afternoon and we enjoyed being in no particular rush.  The trail has signs about the area’s history as main trail into Kananaskis last century as well as a short-lived period as a coal mining hotbed.  We arrived at the end of the main trail shortly after 5 o’clock and had the pond below the waterfall to ourselves.

Cold but not bitterly so, the youngest kids all had turns jumping in and taking short swims.  Desiree and I climbed up the cliff beside the waterfall and explored further upstream for a little while.  Above the cliff edges were striped with thick moss and the stream had several small drops.  However the waterfall at the end of the trail was rightfully the star of the show.  It is one of the prettiest that I have seen in Alberta.  That comment may be influenced by the company I was with – most of my very favorite people.  Nonetheless, it was a great location to take a few photos.

The walk back in the evening light was just as beautiful.  We finished with most kids sleeping on the way home.  A great day.

 


Early summer flowers in Kananaskis Country

On a walk in the hills above Sibbald Flats a couple of weeks ago, we had a great time following a stream into the forest.  Flowers clung to the rocks in odd spots along the water’s run.  I broke up the hike with a few shots of them along the way.

If you are interested in the names, just hover over the picture and you can see them.

 


Evening towards Kananaskis

A night on the western edge of Bragg Creek in January.  The clouds had incredible texture all afternoon and when the last light caught them it threw incredible pinks and purples across them. A cotton candy sky glowing to see the day off.  Same scene above and below – two versions.

 


Frozen along the Kananaskis River

I spent the day skiing at Nakiska yesterday.  On the way home I stopped at Canoe Meadows and walked down to the edge of the Kananaskis River.  The failing light of early evening created deep shadows and cast deepening blue tones across the scene.  Chunks of ice floated downstream while the snow fell lightly.  There was a line of ice marking a recent water level, higher than it is now.  It had been a few years since I wandered along this part of the river.  It was not a disappointing end to a great day.


Dippers and their questionable behavior

Not bad behavior, just one that I don’t pretend to understand.  When I was last at Elbow Falls, I photographed two American dippers as they flew, dove and splashed around the fast-moving water.  Along the way, one of the birds flew to an overhang beside the edge of the waterfall, and then slid on the ice before finding purchase in the snow.

It paused for a moment and then flew at the waterfall!

The bird flapped its wings to hover for several seconds only a few inches from the water where it fell over the edge.  I don’t know if it was looking for insects behind the water – surely not in the water itself!  Likely it was something else, maybe even simple curiosity or just because it could do it.  It was unusual and really fantastic to watch.


Dippers at Elbow Falls


American dippers are year round residents below the Elbow Falls.  When I was there before sunrise, I could hear an occasional chitter from one pair as they flew up and downstream.  As the day brightened I saw them a couple of times while I was photographing the landscape around the waterfall.

I shifted my attention to them and had two lengthy sessions photographing them.  The first began when I was taking the last couple of shots above the falls and noticed one dipper fishing in the small rapids there.  The bird splashed here and there, submerged in the flowing water and managed to hunt down a good number of insects in there.  After several minutes, breakfast concluded and the bird flew down the river and quickly went out of sight.

An hour’s wait separated me form the second encounter.  Eventually one of the dippers flew by and landed at rapids upstream from the falls.  That was too far for any reasonably interesting photographs but a second dipper followed only a little while later.  This one returned to pools above the waterfall which I have enjoyed watching them at often.  When the bird alighted in the water this time, I laid down on the snow to get close to eye level with the little bird.  I was well rewarded as it soon chose to ignore me and walked close by.


Winter at Elbow Falls – water, snow and ice

There is a beautiful balance of running water, ice forms along the river’s edge and drifts of snow at Elbow Falls right now.  Following an early start, photographing the waterfall before dawn, I stayed for a long time playing with these elements.  This is one of my favorite waterfalls and was happy to find a few new ways to photograph it on this visit.  A couple of American dippers kept me company and I eventually turned my attention to them as splashed around hunting for breakfast in the fast-moving water.  I look forward to sharing those images soon.


Elbow Falls – lit by YYC

I went to Elbow Falls yesterday and arrived well before sunrise.  As I stood above the waterfall, the glow from Calgary, ~50km to the east, mixed with the faintest hint of the approaching dawn to paint the clouds and to illuminate the river very gently.


Early winter at the Upper Kananaskis Lake

A touch of winter froze blades of a partially submerged mound of grass and laid down several sheets of snow on the peaks ringing the lake before autumn returned. Photographed in Kananaskis Country’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada on October 7th.


Nightscapes in Kananaskis

A 25 second exposure and a fast lens (in this case, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 set at f/1.8) revealed wisps of clouds stretching east across the Kananaskis River valley a little after 4 in the morning on October 7th.  The soft green glow betrayed the Aurora Borealis pulsing low over the northern horizon.

Red light from my headlamp illuminated Highway 40 in this 10 second exposure that centered on the hazy Northern Lights.


An autumn walk in Kananaskis Country

Ahead of the winter storm which hit late Monday, I went to Kananaskis to enjoy autumn in the mountains.  The clouds were leaden, already suggesting snow when I watched them wrap around Mount Kidd in the fading darkness.

I waited for dawn on the low ridge above Wedge Pond.  The little lake looked beautiful but the brightening sky was much less so.  The clouds did diffuse the light which supported taking a few landscapes of the larch that ring one side.

I wanted to get a hike in so I packed up and headed off to the trailhead for the Galatea Lakes.  I grabbed my tripod, threw on my backpack and headed up.

The trail followed Galatea Creek as it wound up the valley towards the lakes.  I photographed steadily as I wandered along.  It came as no surprise that I hadn’t covered more than a couple of miles before I needed to return home.  It was nice to get lost really seeing and enjoying the forest, the splashing water and the mountains for a couple of hours.

I hope there is a reprieve from the falling snow, I would like to get back this month to see how the autumn landscape looks in winter trappings.

 

 


A common loon swims in front of a low, rocky island on a calm, smoky morning on Upper Kananaskis Lake.  Haze from the wildfires to the west was thick in the mountains and often hid the mountains that ring the lake.