The night after St. Patrick’s Day brought out the Aurora Borealis over southern Alberta. Along the Elbow River, west of Calgary, the bands of color rippled in the sky and on the surface of the water for several hours. I met two photographers, Stacey and Clif, out on the berm. They had come out to Redwood Meadows in search of the Northern Lights. The show took a little while to start so it was nice to chat while we waited. When the lights did start to dance it was beautiful. I will share more images from the night soon as the colours and mood changed throughout the night and allowed for great variety.
The early light worked well with a few interesting clouds hanging above Elbow Falls on the day I was up there this weekend. The soft pink ahead of sunrise shared the sky with the waning full moon early. As the clouds turned to a deep peach color I moved just above the waterfall. From there the reflections of colour on the excited water were beautiful and I watched the morning open up.
Mist rising off the Elbow River near Bragg Creek catches the sun in its own halo of sunlight.
I went back to Elbow Falls for the third time in the last couple of weeks. With the snowstorm that blew in on the weekend, I was drawn back to see another face to the area. Heavy snowflakes had piled up in the trees and across the rocks with more falling rapidly when I was up there. A slip on the ice was my payment for passage but I liked the scene I slid into. The falling snow gave the trees a charcoal sketched look while the rocks and water in the river had texture and character that seemed to suit black and white processing.
With fresh snow on the ground, I went back up to Elbow Falls to see how the valley would look in a return to winter clothing. I was there only a week ago and the change, beyond the cold, was significant. I love snow-covered landscapes so I found this visit to Kananaskis to be a very beautiful one. I think spring is coming soon but when winter is this pretty, I don’t mind a little delay.
I went up to Elbow Falls last weekend and ice-covered all but a sliver of the river and most of the waterfall too. With the warm days since then, I wanted to see how this beautiful spot looked now. Much of the snow and ice has melted, opening the waterway and showing another side of Kananaskis. Spring may be around the corner.
The waves of mild temperatures then bitter cold that have been winter’s pattern this year have played havoc with the ice.
Along the Elbow River the once smooth sheets of water frozen layer on layer, have buckled and split along the channel.
The temperature went into free fall yesterday but the blue skies pulled me outside this morning. Near the edge of the ice down the Elbow I spent some time photographing the forms created by the blanket of snow, broken ice cover, and the long shadows of winter.
The Northern Lights came to life over my home in Redwood Meadows a couple of nights ago. I threw on some winter gear and walked down to the Elbow River with my camera and tripod. The moon was waning but was close to full and lit up the snow and ice so my headlamp wasn’t needed. I went out on the ice and watched the Aurora ripple across the northern quarter of the sky. It was a cold and very late show. And I loved it.Note: Click on any photograph to open a higher resolution version of the image.
The colors dimmed after an hour or so and I could barely make out the lights. The camera could still resolve them and I liked the subtle color in one of the last images from the evening.
We are just coming out of a long cold snap here on the eastern flanks of the Rockies. Temperatures started out around -10°C (14°F) last week and then dropped to -25°C (-13°F) a couple of days ago and have stayed there. This image is from a stretch of the Elbow River just a couple hundred meters from my home in Redwood Meadows (west of Calgary). Most of the river there is now iced over but I haven’t been back at dawn to photograph the difference.
Apparently we start climbing upwards later today and should be just below freezing by the weekend. That will feel balmy – I hope the forecasts hold! I love the winter landscapes but this year when the temperature fell below about -15 my enthusiasm for the season fell too. Maybe some powder skiing on the weekend will remind me of the upside of winter.
Since the floods, I have been eager to drive up Highway 66 which runs in and out of the valleys where the Elbow River unwinds out of the mountains. A few weeks ago, the road reopened and I have been back into this quieter side of Kananaskis Country a couple of times since. On the first trip I went straight to Elbow Falls to see what remained. Rumours through June and July ranged from the Elbow Falls being reduced to a set of rapids through to vast swathes of land disappearing, replaced by river rock spread over the lost forest area. The former is not true – the falls remain, as seen in the image here from that first visit after the floods, and are still beautiful. The latter is very true in many places – many favourite spots, including the winding river path above the falls, have been drastically reshaped.
Our community of Redwood Meadows is located along the Elbow River west of Calgary. Normally, the river is a steady flow that winds out of Kananaskis Country through the Foothills and drains into the Weaselhead delta in the city. For the past week, heavy rain and snowmelt swelled the river far above its channels and in many places along its path expanded well beyond its banks.
Owing to a sustained fight by emergency workers, volunteers, community members and skilled heavy machinery crews to reinforce the berm that separates the town from the river, the water was kept out of most houses. I did not stop to take many photographs during the river’s rise, we were sandbagging and racing to shore up the berm. I did grab a few afterwards to remember how close the water came to making things significantly worse in Redwood Meadows.
The reinforcement of the berm continues with many truckloads of concrete blocks and rock boulders being positioned to defend against the next time the Elbow’s temper flares again.
The story of this year’s flood from Bragg Creek and into Calgary (where the Elbow joined the Bow River and unleashed true destruction), is still unfolding. The waters have crested, many people are back in their homes and the cleaning up has begun. There is great community spirit at all places affected and we will all need that over the next weeks and months.
The water ripped away trees and changed the shape of the valley. It carried mud through the forest and left a heavy layer behind when it receded. I found this small flower which had weathered the deluge and seemed to be a good symbol of strength and resilience. Two qualities I have seen in my neighbours, friends and strangers who rallied to save a town and continue to work to bring it back to normal.
(please click on this image to link to a higher resolution file)
Clouds blocked the early pink light at down this morning but as the color went to gold, nice breaks higher off the horizon let the sunlight in. The light reflected on the water and the look of the rocks under the water made a very pretty scene.