05 June 2011 @ 7:02 pm MDT (2437.5 miles). It almost looked like it was going to be closed (false signs, I reckon), but I was able to cruise the Bow Valley Parkway. It’s a fantastic stretch of road that runs parallel to Canada Highway 1, back a bit in the woods and along the Bow River.
This area is a mammalian mecca. Back in 2007 I drove and explored it god knows how many times (we stayed in the area two days) and saw more wildlife than I could count. Today was no different. My god, the elk and mule deer… Everywhere. Just. Everywhere.
05 June 2011 @ 9:11 am MDT (2229.3 miles). Yay! Sunshine! And just as I was entering Jasper National Park.
Above is a photograph of the Canadian Rockies overlooking Jasper Lake. The photograph below is of a group of fourteen Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep:
Both photographs were taken in the same location, one looking east and one looking west. And that, folks, is Jasper National Park in a nutshell. This place is packed with landscapes and animals, as is Banff and Yoho National Parks — and the Icefields Parkway.
I’m hitting them all today. Maybe. We’ll see how much mojo I’ve got.
I’ll probably lose service once I leave the town of Jasper, but will easily have it again when I get to the town of Canmore at the southend of Banff National Park. Expect plenty of updates today. It’s going to be a busy one.
This is definitely one of the highlights of the drive.
ADDENDUM, TWENTY MINUTES LATER: An elk! Hoo-RAH!!!
This is a fairly impressive elk, Cervus canadensis, no? He was photographed just west of Jasper, Alberta during the summer of 2007. We’d seen a few elk just prior to this one, down the road a bit in Banff National Park — but this dude? Well, this elk took elkness to a whole new level. He was the Thunderdome of elk. The Blaster of Master Blaster.
He was massive. Utterly, monstrously, amazingly massive — but he was also incredibly chilled out, just hanging under his tree, looking back over his shoulder at the quaking, puny human shooting his little shutterbox not far from a big tree. As if the human might have to hide behind that big tree if the elk were to decide to charge with that monstrous rack of destruction…
Yeah, the elk was actually a sweetheart. He kept his eye on me, but was quite patient and tolerant. I remember being struck by the sound of his breathing… You couldn’t quite “feel” it, but the sound was deep, low and resonating. It made an impact.
I look forward to coming across elk again this summer. We don’t have them in this part of Alaska and we won’t have them once we’re back down in south Georgia. But you know who does have them? British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, and the stretch of Rockies running south from there. Happens to be the path I’m taking this summer. Awesome.