On the weekend, I found a Grizzly bear traversing along the edge of the Bow Valley Parkway near the southeast entrance. The bear, a female with the tag #148 (I think), I could see where she had been digging up roots but when I saw her she was already on the move.
She crossed the road between a couple of parked cars and then disappeared into the trees. I played a hunch and drove a kilometre down the road and waited hoping she might continue in that direction. A little while later, she came down the road and scrambled up onto this rock shelf above the road.
That offered a great view of this beautiful creature and I was able to create some solid imagery when she paused to decide on her next route.
Leaving the rocks, she crossed a grassy meadow and then walked through the open forest for a few hundred metres. I loved watching her walk through the trees – at this time of the year her coat blends in with the autumn foliage.
She then crossed the road again and shuffled down the hillside. Out of sight again and this time she did not return. I saw a video of her fishing earlier this summer so maybe she went down to the river for that!
We were in Banff to celebrate my father’s birthday on the weekend. Sunday morning I was on my own and I decided to explore the Bow Valley Parkway as I have not spent any time there this winter. I stopped at the lookout above the Backswamp and was there for a while before I noticed a light-colored wolf laying down out in the middle of the plain. Some small motion must have caught my eye finally because I had mistaken her for a tree stump from that distance of close to a kilometer. Once I started watching this wolf, a companion cleared the forest and trotted over to the first one. They were pointed west and when they met up, the two wolves slipped across the snow in that direction. I lost sight of them behind the tall trees on the river’s edge a couple of minutes later.
These were the first wolves that I had seen anywhere in the Banff National Park so I did not that to be the end of this encounter. I thought I would try to flank them by driving further west to Muleshoe where I could park and then hike down to the river. The hope being to meet up with the wolves when they passed by – if they did go that way and I was able to notice them.
When I got to Muleshoe, I slung my camera and tripod over my shoulder and started down. My stroll was a bit more arduous than anticipated as the crust of snow was thin so most of my steps broke through. This slowed my progress a bit but it paid off well once I got down to the tracks. There, about two hundred meters east of me, were the two wolves walking briskly along the train tracks. I watched them quietly for a minute before the sound of an approaching train drew their attention and the wolves ran into the forest. The pale wolf went north towards the lower slopes of the mountains along the Parkway. That was my last glimpse of that beautiful creature on the day. The black one slipped into a thin line of trees between the tracks and the river and disappeared.
When the train had passed, I discovered my new friend crossing the snow-covered ice at a bend in the river. The black wolf caught sight of me at that point and hastened to the other side.
Once on the far bank, I was drawn in by the gleaming yellow eyes that stared out above the snow where it had just laid down to watch me.
The wolf waited for more than a few minutes, even laying its head on the snow suggesting it may have a nap, before getting up again.
Stretching a little as it stood up, the wolf kept its eyes on me and then walked in an arc away from me and north towards the tracks. Against the dormant nest of branches I photographed the wolf a couple more times. Then it dashed up the berm to the railway, crossed the line and disappeared into the brush on the northern side.
It was a special first encounter with a couple of the Bow Valley wolf pack. I hope to see them in another quiet moment again soon.
This dead forest is along the Bow Valley Parkway in the Banff National Park. Fire swept through this stand of Lodgepole Pines as part of a prescribed fire burn almost 18 years ago. There is new growth springing up from the ground but none has reached high up the trunks so far. With the late spring snowstorm, there was a lot of interesting elements to work into my images there.