We were in Kananaskis last weekend. The autumn colours were beautiful near Highwood Pass. The snow dusting the trees was also beautiful but felt more than a little early. We came down from the pass in warm afternoon sunlight and found this incredible fox trotting down a hill. She crossed by a pond and settled on this rock for 20 minutes before continuing along. Both Desirée and I were mesmerized watching her. I love foxes and this was a special one to spend a little bit of time with.
I love K-Country and with a break in the rain on Friday, we went up to Forgetmenot Pond for a walk around the water before evening set in. The mountains that stand to the south, west and north were all still snow clad and, surprisingly the pond still had ice covering most of it. It was cold, clear and beautiful.
For the photograph below, I shot the reflection of the mountains in the water. Slight ripples distorted the scene in a way I thought was intriguing. Another way to enjoy the views of the forest, mountains and their peaks as spring pushes into the higher elevations.
A couple of weeks after sledding on our tiny hill across the street, we went to the best toboggan location in our neck of the woods last weekend. The slope is somewhat dramatically called Suicide Hill by locals. We have gone there since all of the kids were really young and it is always a lot of fun. I titled a post in 2017 the same and it was fun to compare then and now.
We went late in the day which meant fewer people but came at the expense of the sun falling behind the trees shortly after we got started. It was still a beautiful day and we had a great time.
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.
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.
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.
‘This great gray owl was sheltering in the branch of a leafy tree when I first found him east of Kananaskis. The rain was pouring and he was smart to avoid the brunt of it. I was less so and got soaked. Eventually the sun came out and the forest brightened. The owl began hunting and grabbed two field mice over a half an hour. In this image he had alighted from a fencepost and was heading back into the forest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.