"bLog means boring-Log"
deine lakaien (0 comments)
^C: deine lakaien (god's bow), szene
into my arms
fighting the green
over and done
where you are
where the winds don’t blow
forever and a day
love me to the end
day 22 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
so this is our last day
in canada for this trip. during the usual check-out procedure we talked to our host about what to do here in calgary. he recommended the bass pro shop in a big mall, as it was nearby, and we could get to the airport then quick. also a mall is always a good place to spend some time. the bass pro shop we had already seen in a documentary, so we knew what to find there; a huge shop for hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor activity that was turned into some sort of amusement shopping park.
although this sounded very tempting, we still wanted to see some wildlife. and so we decided otherwise, and put our luggage into the trunk. in daylight we saw the mosquito massacre  from the evening before - all the cleaning from yesterday was in vain. but a mosquito graveyard like this was pretty common; a lot of cars had that, as we found out.
as this was our last chance to see some wildlife, we booked the ultimate wildlife experience trip, that guaranteed a 100% chance of seeing rare and shy animals. yop, that would be a good way to end this wonderful trip to canada.
and in calgary we found all this - isn't that amazing? after a 15 minutes drive we parked our car. the weather was sunny, windy, and hot.
and so we started our trip exploring the wildlife of canada, at the calgary zoo[002-214]. we started with the mountain goat[003-005,007] we had not spotted on our trip; just like the big horn sheep. next was a big aviary with all kinds of cute and fluffy owls[008-029]. one could really get very close to those little birds of prey. most of them were sitting around sleepy and resting.
and we also got to see the woodland caribou - finally we saw a real one. next came the wood bison[031-033], which would be more indigenous to the bad lands and prairie.
same with the muskox[042-043], which we did not expect to find on our trip. a river otter[034-036] on the other hand, we might have spotted if we would have been lucky.
and then there he was - the black bear[050-064], right next to a fake spirit bear[065-068] (which in fact was a black bear with white fur). we guessed those were the only two bears in west canada - the rest might be hidden in some other zoos.
same applied to the cute and elegant cougar[069-076]. such a lovely big cat, too bad we did not spot one in the woods.
next we entered the tropical section of the zoo, showing loads of plants[077-081] and butterflies[082-089] in a glass house. while it was already hot outside, inside the glass house it was even hotter, so after a while we left again to get out into the cool air again.
then we saw more big cats we were so eager to spot on our hikes through the woods - the eurasian lynx[090-100] and the snow leopard[101-103]. aaaaaaaw, so cute, the both of them. we wished we could have cuddled them. while the lynx was rather awake, the snow leopard was dozing. so all we saw was tail and paws.
the same level of lethargy had the two amur tigers[104-132]. in the beginning they only raised their heads when a loud motorcycle drove by. then they lay down again. after that, they raised their heads, and later they even got up and moved - just to swap places and fall asleep again. well... a cat is a cat.
the red pandas[133-146] had a rather big enclosure, compared to the one in vienna zoo. they also seemed way more active and agile. but they were just as cute as the ones we know. they also got very close to the glass wall - we were not used to that, so we had troubles taking pictures of them as the red pandas got closer to us than the minimal distance of our lenses required it to focus.
we went back to the snow leopard[147-148] enclosure to see if the kitty already had woken up. well, it had not, but at least it had shifted its sleeping position, so we could now see its fluffy head.
another bunch of cuties were the alpacas, accompanied by a blue peafowl[149-151]. then came the rock hyrax[152-154], a rodent we have never seen before. cute little porcupines[155-156] were there too, unfortunately they were inside a big hall that housed the red river hog[157-159], with their lovely ears, and the hippopotamus[160-162] too, and it was pretty dark in there, so almost all pictures were out of focus or had motion blur - too bad, the porcupines were really super cuddly.
unusually and unexpectedly active were the african lions[163-168]. surprisingly there were two male lions in the enclosure along with several females. still, they all seemed pretty relaxed and calm - maybe they were brothers.
a single crowned crane[169-177] was doing the mating ritual and jumped around in the big enclosure. a great performance, too bad there was no other cranes around to join the dance. we were sure they would have been impressed.
a few zebra[178-183] were also there, and a little crocodile[184-186] clinging his jaws around a dead rabbit. the crocodile did not move at all, just lying there with the dead prey, staring at us, with a very intense "that's mine"-look on its face.
the zoo was soon about to close, so our last stop was at the big group of gorillas[187-209]. their enclosure was partly outside and partly inside, and very big. we first spotted the group outside and took some pictures, when suddenly the eldest and biggest of them decided it is time to move indoors. so he bullied the others to do as he wanted. the big aggressive male gorilla was pretty scary to watch. we followed the group inside, where the alpha male just lay down and enjoyed being admired by the visitors. the others kept their distance to him - i would have done the same.
then we headed back all the way to the exit which was on the other side of the island, where the zoo is located on.
right at the exit we saw some cute little mongoose lemurs[210-212], just above our heads, within my arms reach.
we returned to our car on the now empty huge parking lot of the zoo. we decided not to wash the car again because of all the dead mosquitoes on the grill and bonnet. we drove back to the airport and searched the garage where to return our car.
the guy there told us that we drove about 3400 kilometres on our trip - not bad for three weeks. then we still had some time and money left on the airport, thus we decided to spend it for food, and souvenirs. we bought all kinds of maple stuff, like maple biscuits, coffee, tea, and of course syrup. the lady at the shop put it all in a plastic bag and gave it to us. we asked if it is not better to put it into one of those duty-free sealed bags for later security inspections. she said that would not be necessary. hm... but we have a transit flight via london, heathrow. no no, don't worry, that will be fine, she assured us. well, she works at the airport, so we trusted her - she should know best, right?
so, a few hours later, we got on the airplane and left canada. and, of course, we should have known better, it is not okay to carry liquids in a non-sealed bag when boarding the plane in london. what a nuisance. well, at least we did not get bored in london, while arguing for a long time with security personnel whether we can take the bottle with us or not.
and although this was not a very nice way to end our trip, all the stuff we have seen and experienced before was really awesome and amazing. what a great country (at least the small part that we got to see), we can really recommend going there. thanks nina for these great holidays - it was, as always, a great pleasure to travel a foreign country with you.
kilometres driven with car: 3400
usable pics taken on trip: 3356
track for day 22
day 21 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
we left banff early. after having packed our stuff, booked our next room at a b&b in calgary, and having a small breakfast from our groceries, we got in the car and left banff. on our way through and out of town we saw the banff triathlon, which was through the whole city. it was wonderful to all watch the people and the age-range was from kids to really old people - that was quite impressive.
while driving out of the rocky mountains i got a little sad and depressed, as with 20 kilometres, there was a drastic change in scenery, colour, and temperature. from densely wooded mountains to plains of fields, from bright and rich colours, to brownish and rather pale. i definitely liked it better in the rockies.
in calgary[001-002] we had a little break to grab something to bite and a coffee and took an hour to clean our car thoroughly. this means throwing out all the liter, vacuuming the car passenger compartment, and having it washed in the car wash. not something that is a lot of fun, but it has to be done, as we will return the car tomorrow, and we thought it's better to have it done right away.
so, with our shiny car we were heading to the horseshoe[003-026] canyon where the temperature climbed up to 30 degrees celsius. puh, we were not used to that anymore. also people had short trousers and t-shirts only again. we soon adjusted to that way of dressing as it really was hot and the sun beat down.
horseshoe canyon is a weird landscape with strange stone formations. one can see the sedimentary layers, containing shale, sandstone, and coal; all from the cretaceous age, when this area used to be a swamp. the shapes were then later formed by creeks. a lot of fossil material was found here in this area too, like dinosaur bones.
which then led us to drumheller, where they have the world's largest dinosaur. so the entire city is about dinosaurs. they are basically everywhere, and from where we parked the car to the biggest dinosaur we spotted more dinosaurs[027-029,031-032,045-046] than humans. the ones on the streets are really cute, and it takes away the feeling of being in a ghost town. also they are friendly looking, bright spots in this otherwise dull surrounding.
the largest dinosaur in the world reminded me a bit of "dinky the dinosaur" in the game "fallout - new vegas". in both dinos one can walk up the stairs and enjoy the view from the mouth of the ancient life form, but in the real one, i refrained from climbing, as it was too hot for the both of us. at the visitor center right next to the dinosaur we asked a nice lady what else there is around to see, and she happily gave us a map and directions how to get to the local sights.
first one was a little church[049-053] they had there, and when i entered i almost bumped my head on the ceiling. so i walked in ducking my head. two rows of seats on each side, a small pulpit, music coming via a land line telephon - marvellous, i really liked that. i think i might have even attended a mess in that little thing just for the fun of it.
back into the canadian badlands, we drove to a group of hoodoos nearby. hoodoos[054-089] are created by a hard stone that protects its underlying softer stone ground from being washed out and eroded. so what's left after millions of years is a pillar with a rock on top of it, being several metres tall. really bizarre and fascinating.
it is said that they have their names from the word "voodoo", as it was believed that hoodoos are petrified giants who come alive in the dark. to protect the hoodoos, iron walkways were constructed around the hoodoos, so they can be easily accessed and are safe from destruction by people.
then we tried to find the ghost town of wayne[090-091], a former coal miner town. but all we found were a few houses with gardens and trailers, and a saloon. not really what we were expecting, so we drove back the dusty road, crossing the eleven one-lane bridges, each with a wooden plank bed, again. too bad, i would have loved to see a ghost town here in the badlands.
we started heading back to calgary, as the sun began to set. on our way back, we had a little break at the well hidden and quiet orkneys viewpoint[095-110].
then we drove on westward, with the sun setting in front of us. while this made it hard to see the road for nina who was driving, it made a wonderful photo opportunity for me.
we took highway 9 and made a few stops to take pictures, while driving on a straight road, framed with endless fields to both sides.
it seemed the later it got, the more mosquitoes were out. at one spot[160-162], where we stopped, it was especially bad, so we did not stay out of the car for longer than a minute. now we knew that there can be a mosquito problem in canada. this was always mentioned by our guide book, people we told about our canada trip, and we read that quite often while doing travel research. but so far we haven't had any nuisance of this kind.
lucky us, i guess.
it was already too dark for the camera, when we saw a badger crossing the road. aaaaaw, exotic wildlife, isn't that wonderful - so cute.
and so there's only one day left in canada...
track for day 21
day 20 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
for us in the banff area, and thus in the rocky mountains. so time for some more trails and falls before leaving here.
while driving to our first goal, we passed through the sawback prescribed fire area[003-009], where 1993 a fire was intentionally started here to burn down the trees and restart the floral live cycle. and after more than 20 years there were only a few new trees, short grass, and the burnt tree trunks still lying around not decayed or devoured by maggots and fungi? hm... seemed pretty strange to me, but that is what the nearby sign said.
nearby, while driving further up the bow parkway, there was a meadow with loads of red flowers[010-026], and a single burnt tree trunk[011-013,023,025-026], still standing. the colours and the size of this field of flowers were really impressive.
a little further up the highway we reached the parking lot from where we started the johnston canyon trail[027-096]. there is a paved walkway with bridges going right through the canyon. and it has two water falls, an upper, and a lower one. we started with the trail to the upper one[027-084].
the walk was nice, not too steep or strenuous, and had all the stuff we liked about the trails so far; cute squirrels, awesome trees, and thunderous waterfalls. and we noticed some strange coloured trees[041,043] that were bright yellow, like being covered in sulphur. we guessed it was some kind of fungal disease.
although signs encourage people to stay on the paved walkway, we left it to get right down to the river[065-068] and have a little picnic there, as the ground seemed save enough to climb down safely. there we also spotted the yellow stone wall[066,069-070,077,079] on the other side of the water. it looked like some sort of sedimentation.
after having reached the upper falls, we went back again, took a turn and reached the lower fall[085-096], where one can enter a small cave that was eroded by the lower fall, before it fell back to its current position. pretty astonishing and impressive.
back at the johnston canyon resort we had a delicious and tasty burger. nomnom, just the right thing after a little hike.
although it was already late in the afternoon we thought there is still time for another trail and some more falls. so we drove on to do the silverton falls trail[100-110].
in contrast to the rather crowded johnston canyon trail, here we were on our own again (and really just us, no bears, cougars, or other animals to be spotted. buhuuuu, too sad). after about 20 minutes of walking, we reached the fall[105,107-108]. we carved "N+N" into the rocks, and went back to the parking lot.
on our drive home to banff, we stopped at a rest place next to the moose meadows[111-118] (of course without a single moose).
we had another stop at the bow river rest place[120-128], that was rather hidden, and besides two lovebirds that were just leaving when we had arrived, we were the only ones there. the view was awesome, and at the foot of the hill, there were railroad tracks and a river. it was totally silent there, another site that will be added to the tons of memorable places here in canada.
after a last shot of banff's landmark mountain with its unique shape, and then we drove back to spend the last night in the canadian rocky mountains. oh, i will miss them. very much.
so very very much.
track for day 20
day 19 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
extending our stay here in banff for another night was the first thing we did today
. fortunately the room was available, so we did not have to move. so that was good news, and also that the weather got better actually. thus we happily got in the car, and drove northwards.
after a few short stops to enjoy the great scenery and landscapes, we soon arrived at a lookout over peyto lake[008-017]. the colour of the water was turquoise, the surrounding mountain looked amazing.
also, several days ago, i have noticed that some trees along the street were having their needles[005-006] and branches only on one side. my assumption that it is the cold wind freezing the sap and thus killing the branches and needles was confirmed a few days ago at the icefield glacier when our guide explained that phenomenon. so far i have not been close enough to such a tree to take good pictures of it, but now i have.
on our way to to the next lake, we saw two cars that just had an accident; a passenger was still penned in. it was a horrifying sight, but there were already loads of people there to help. still, it took more than 30 minutes until we heard the sirens of the ambulance car heading to place of the accident.
but at this time, we already were at the bow lake[018-035]. another reminder that we are deeper in the wilderness than we might think.
from the lake one can also see parts of the glacier snout of bow glacier[037-039] up in the mountains. we walked a little along the lakeside, took some pictures, enjoyed the view and the pure water of the lake (we spotted loads of fish), and then took a short coffee break at the num-ti-jah lodge.
there we had a little snack and tea for nina, and coffee for me. then we decided to have a little hike at lake helena, but a big red sign said it was closed because of grizzlies in this area. yeah, sure, like anyone would believe that there are actually bears around here...
ok, to be polite tourists and keep up the myth that there are bears around, we did not take this trail, but instead we went to lake louise[041-065] and took the lake agnes trail[041-120]. this trail runs past a little ground squirrel[046-048], the huge and rather ugly fairmont chateau[051-052,113] hotel, and a little statue of a happy swiss hiking guide, that showed people round long before it was so touristy as it is now.
while right at the shore loads of people took strolls along the lake, they were getting less and less the further away from the lake and up the mountain we walked. also it was already a bit late, and we were not sure if we would make it to our destination - a teahouse in the mountains - in time. quite a few people were on the descent, and some had encouraging words for us, that we can make it, and that it is not so far to the teahouse anymore. that was really nice, because the trail was really really steep and i think we looked quite exhausted (and actually we were exhausted).
at two third of our way up we took a short break at the small, but wonderful mirror lake[066-068,104]. we were the only ones, and it was very quiet and peaceful there. a really nice break. according to all the prints in the mud, this must be a rather busy spot during the day.
but we had to march on, to get to the teahouse in time, because by now, we really were longing for a hot beverage and something to eat.
after one and a half hour walking, and about 500 metres of elevation gain, we arrived at the teahouse[081-082,086,119-120], and fortunately it was still open. they had several blends of tea, but one of the guys working there told us, that the kitchen was already closed, and there was no food left. so nina had a herbal tea, i had a hot chocolate. and although they were the most expensive beverages we had so far on our trip, they were also the best ones we ever had. the high prices are due to the fact, that the five young people working there have to carry all the stuff themselves from the valley up to the house. they do so once a week.
also they have two small cabins where all the five of them sleep. they hardly have any electricity, and no hot water. they cook themselves, and have to carry down all the garbage too. but basically, they all seemed to enjoy the stay (although one girl had a fight with one of the boys about something concerning the earth toilets, and seemed pretty pissed). still, the guy we talked with assured us, on the whole they get along together pretty well, and they like the work they are doing here.
warmed up again, we started our descend and took a different route[090-104] down. at the mirror lake we got back to the route we have been taking uphill.
soon we got back to our car, and drove back to our accommodation, when suddenly i noticed in the rear view mirror a wonderfully lit mountain peak and clouds. so we stopped the car, got our camera gear and took some pictures. it really looked amazing, and the colours were quite intense.
but within 20 minutes the sun was gone, and darkness started to surround us. time to get back in the car and call it a day.
at home we were happy to take a shower, have a cup of tea, eat some of our groceries and get to bed.
track for day 19
day 18 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
the morning on this day
was rainy, cloudy, gray, and cold. so we decided to stay in bed, to get a little extra rest after the last few strenuous days. also it was a good opportunity to do the laundry again (as the hotel had laundry and dryer machines in the basement), sort out hundreds of megabytes of pictures, update the bLog and all the rest one does when the weather is not that promising.
while changing bills for coins at the reception the guy told me that the weather here in banff has been like this for over three weeks - rainy, cloudy, no sunshine. uh-oh... well, so far we have been really lucky with the weather and could not complain. also we were quite happy about the little break we got today.
but just as we had brought rain to the dried out regions in the west, we brought sunshine to alberta, because in the afternoon the sun came out. yippieh, lucky us.
so, we went out to explore the city of banff and sights nearby, such as the bow falls[003-010], that are right in the center of banff. if you started your canada trip in the west and came to banff now like we did, this is not really what you would call a fall, after all you have seen so far. but a little further down the river we got to get a beautiful view.
in the meantime it started to heavily rain again, so we decided to walk up to the banff springs hotel[002,012-028]. once there, it had stopped to rain again - strange weather. the hotel reminded me a little bit of the hotel in "the shining", but way more busy and crowded and no snow. still the stone walls were quite beautiful, and the view on the mountains was also wonderful.
still, we were not yet used to those masses of people, so we went for another trail nearby, namely the fenland trail[029-069]. beside one japanese woman who crossed our way, asking if there is an exit for this trail, we were alone. since she came from the same direction as we did, we could not answer her question.
the trail led through lush green meadows and awesome forests, and followed the river for most parts. the water was, as usual, of wonderful colour and pureness, with little bugs[053-055] and fishes in it.
then we drove on to the vermillion lakes[070-133], a series of lakes right next to the highway, from which we had already seen them the day we came to banff. and although right next to the highway, it was very quiet and calm, and there was traffic noise only once in a while. by now the sky was clear again, and almost no wind, so again perfect conditions for taking pictures.
we had wonderful reflections, easy access to the lakes, as they all were right next to the small road going from one lake to the next, and only a few people, most of them photographers looking for the same things as we did. all of them looked pretty happy with what they caught on camera, and so were we. sceneries like taken from a traveller catalogue or a glossy magazine. but as always, no picture can capture the real beauty there was.
once the sun has started to set, it got too dark for any more pictures without a tripod, and as we had already arrived at the last lake and thus the end of the street, we decided to call it a day, and drive back to banff.
shopping food in banff turned out to be tremendously expensive again, but this did not surprise us anymore. also we ran out of cash and could not find an ATM nearby or in the shop, so we reduced our groceries to a minimum. thus we had cup noodles this evening, also for the lack of motivation to search a decent restaurant.
track for day 18
day 17 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
there is no better way to start the day
than to go to a lake. at least in canada. so after having booked our next accommodation, we headed to horseshoe lake[001-019], a rather small lake that seems to be popular in summer for swimming and cliff jumping.
but today we were all alone. also there was no wind, so the reflections were wonderful on the water. the colour, purity, and cleanness of the water was stunning too; we could even see little trouts.
but then it started to drizzle, and we went back to our car to drive to the athabasca falls[020-038]. they are not famous for its height - which is only 22 metres - but for the huge amount of water running down the waterfall. according to an information sign there the colour of the water is greyish because it is full of "rock flour" - small and tiny rock particles - grinding and smoothing the stone, and making potholes[021,025-029] over thousands of years. it also provided information about how the water fall has moved over time, abandoning the riverbed and finding new ways around hard rocks, and how the edge of the waterfall has moved up the river because the riverbed got flushed and hollowed out.
it started to heavily rain, so we got back to the car and drove to a restaurant to have a little bite and a coffee. we had buried ourselves in our guide books to decide what to do next, so we did not notice that a guy had come to our table to warn us about a little thief scouting around from table to table to pocket crumbs and other loose stuff to eat. and just as the guy was talking to us, the cute little ground squirrel was already on nina's shoulder inspecting what our table offered. swiftly he got on the table, grabbed a small piece of my muffin, and then got out at the exit.
this all happened so fast, we didn't even have time to get our cameras out. aaaaaaw, so cute. the guy then told us, that a few days ago he managed to steal cookies and other sweets. brave little rascal.
although highly enraptured by the little creature, we had to go on and drove to the next falls, namely the sunwapta falls[044-055]. "sunwapta" means turbulent water, and nomen est omen. the thundering of the falls here was not as loud as the athabasca falls, but still very powerful and impressive.
while we were driving on, the clouds grew darker again, and the weather was changeable - rain, drizzle, sunlight. so far we managed to flee from the dark clouds that were following us all the way since morning. near our next destination we stopped at a viewpoint[060-072] to enjoy the magnificent landscape, with mountain peaks hidden in rain clouds.
and then there was this lovely raven[067-072] at the parking lot too, trying to find food dropped by tourists. this bird seemed less shy than all the other ravens i have spotted so far, so i gave him small pieces of our cookies, decreasing the distance between the car and the cookie crumbs steadily. and soon the raven was as close as two metres. but getting any more closer than that he did not dare. and yes, i know i should not have fed any wildlife. shame on me, but i just love to see them up close. i just really love those intelligent big birds.
driving further up the mountains we finally reached the icefield centre[092-144]. from here loads of tourist attractions start, thus the place is really crowded with hordes of tourists.
we decided to do the "icefield glacier adventure tour"[094-140], which will bring us right onto the columbia icefield. although there would have also been a guided hiking tour going up from the end of the glacier to the same spot were the huge truck brought us, this way was the faster one, although we actually would have preferred the former one. and so we drove there in the ice explorer vehicle, with wheels almost as tall as me.
this vehicle can also go up and down really steep terrain[134,136], but doing so it is very slow. good for us, as we got a good look around from inside the bus.
the truck let us get off right on the glacier on a straightened out area, so it somehow was walking on the glacier, but not as authentic as it was on the helicopter glacier tour we did in new zealand three years ago (oh man, that was so awesome) where we really set foot on the untreated ice. also we were a group of about eight people, where here we were around 45 people. per bus. and at one time, there were a total of three buses there. so, it gets pretty crowded up there. in summer, we were told, there's even more people. puh...
but, we are tourists too after all, so no complaining about touristy things, right? so we made the best out of it, wandered around, doing a little snowball fight, and drank the pure melt water, which really tasted very pure and good. it is also said, that women (only) will look about ten years younger, once they drank the water. i wonder what nina will look like tomorrow...
one and a half hour later the tour was done and we were back to the icefield center, had another hot beverage there for warming up again after being exposed to ice and cold wind. we got on the car and drove on, when we realized we almost ran out of fuel. actually our smart car told us in the morning we would have no problems driving the distance to our next accommodation, but i guess all the time driving up the mountains cost more gasoline than the average calculation had predicted. so there was this big blinking icon warning us that we should get some fuel soon.
and most likely - with the proverbial last drop - we made it to a small gas station, which turned out to be the most expensive gas station we have come by so far; even more expensive than any filling station in british columbia with their higher taxes. grrrrr... so we only filled up as much to get to the next city to buy cheaper gasoline.
which we than did, but before that we stopped at some more beautiful lakes, like, for example, the waterfowl lake[185-201], and bow lake[203-209] a little later. both again had a striking turquoise and greenish colour.
last lake for today was herbert lake[212-221], another lake we had to ourselves only sharing with a ground squirrel[212-216]. almost no wind meant good conditions for reflections on the water, but unfortunately it was already late, so the light was already diminishing. also, the rain has caught up with us again.
so we kept on driving and had no further stops on our way to banff, where we will stay the next nights in the "tunnel mount resort". it was already dark when we came to banff, so we have not seen much of it, but we noticed they have the street named after animals. so there is a beaver street, otter street, and a cougar and lynx street. we liked that - unfortunately our hotel is a little outside of banff, so the street did not get an animal name - too sad.
dinner (or rather almost a midnight snack) was sushi from a delivery service, since all the restaurants near by had already closed, and we were lazy and hungry, so we did not drive back to town to search for a restaurant that was still opened. after eating, we got to bed as we were sooooooo tired. another exciting and wonderful day in canada.
track for day 17
day 16 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
we booked another night in jasper, and when telling our host that we saw caribous the day before, we were very disappointed to hear that there are no caribous around at this time of the year, and those few that had survived all the wolves so far, are rarely spotted. sad us. but our host also told us her husband has spotted a wolf these days on a certain road. so we will go there today in the afternoon - maybe we get to see a wolf (assuming they are not a legend and lie just as the rest of all the wildlife here in canada, because by now we are very certain the bear is a lie. such as the cougar. and the moose. and the lynx).
although the weather did not look very promising, clouds covered the gray sky and from time to time there were light rainfalls, we still wanted to go up the whistler's mountain[001-067] with the jasper cable car[062,063], which is the lengthiest of its kind in canada and takes you from 1300 to 2300 metres altitude in approximately seven minutes. the ride itself was turned into an event; while we are used to having transported as many people up the hill as possible, so they can do their sports activities there, here you get a ticket with an assigned number and time.
then there are loudspeaker announcements telling people to prepare for preboarding (yes, really), and then a few minutes later there is the final call for boarding. this repeats itself every 15 minutes. since it was quite early when we got there, and the weather didn't look so good, we only had to wait for one car to board the cabin. on board there was infotainment by a guy handling the doors. he did a good job actually, and told us what lakes and mountains we could see from up there. well, at least the guy still seemed to have fun and enjoy his job.
up on the mountain it was cold, very windy, and clouds and fog were climbing up on one side of the mountain. still we wanted to hike the few hundred metres to the summit. on the steep way up we took some breaks - low oxygen levels and such forced us to - and we spotted a rainbow[018-019], a gentian, and a little ground squirrel[033-036].
at 12:00 sharp, we made it to the peak[039-050] at 2450 metres, and built our own stone man, called "inuksuk"[047-048] - isn't it lovely? not as big as the other ones[039-041] built there, but still our lasting mark on whistler's peak.
back at the upper station of the cable car we had a coffee and tea to warm up again. from the little restaurant we spotted another one of those seemingly endless trains. also we saw jasper[062,064-067], that looks like a big "J". and we found a little souvenir magnet, with a bear on a spring in a canoe, an oar in his paws. actually, super ugly and kitschy; but we liked the wobbling bear, so we kept it and placed it on the dashboard of our car for fun and wobble.
next we did a little hike again, but this time in the plains. the trail is called "the valley of the five lakes"[066-139], is about 10 kilometres long, and takes in - as the name implies - five lakes, each with its own distinct colour.
it took us quite a while until we got to the first lake[094-103]. there are two loop trails; a short one, which covers some lakes, and a long one, which covers all of them, and includes the short one. and the longer one is the one we did. and while we walked a few hours, we only met a few living beings. one of them being a blue grouse[096-097] in camouflage plumage, which did not move all the time while we were staring at it and taking pictures. the second one was a human being with a dog. i wanted to ask him if the dog has sensed any wildlife, but he was passing by too quick; but then again, he most likely would have warned us anyway.
heading on, we soon came to the second lake[104-114], followed by the third lake[115-124]. there we found a pair of bright red chairs[115,121], which are part of the "jasper red chair program". there is a total of six of these chairs "placed in quiet, scenic locations carefully selected by parks canada staff because these places inspire the truest sense of 'awe'", as it said. and the place chosen for the chairs we found, really offered an awe-inspiring sight. so we did as suggested, and sat there quietly and discovered.
next, you might have guessed it, were the fourth lake[125-133], and the fifth lake. the colour of each lake was really wonderful, from a lush green to a shiny cyan, really impressive.
while hiking we found out something quite interesting. chipmunks have this unique alert sound when you come close to them. to me it sounded like a rattlesnake's rattle sound made by a bird. at least, that's how i would describe it. anyhow, as soon as one of those cute little rodents starts with this sound, you can hear it for a very very long time, even if you have already left the area where the chipmunk spotted you. but one time we greeted the chipmunk, and were waving in its direction. and suddenly... it had stopped.
coincidence we thought at first, but then it was like that in over 75% of our encounters. funny thing. so from now on, we will always greet the chipmunks and wave. being polite is the least we can do when intruding into their homes we thought.
it was about 18:00 o'clock when we got back to jasper, so we decided to give the place a shot where our host's husband has seen the wolf a few days ago. we thought this might be a good time for the animals to wander around. so we drove up the marmot basin road, that would lead to an alpine resort, but since the season is not opened yet, the road is hardly used, thus the animals will not get scared away. we parked our car on a long straight segment of the road, to easier spot animals crossing the street.
but no animals came. no bear, no lynx, no cougar, no moose, nothing. after about 20 minutes we gave up, and drove back on the road, when suddenly i spotted something on the side of the road. it turned out it was a big (but skinny) black wolf[140-152]. i jammed on the brakes, and kept distance to the wolf to not scare it. but the longer we followed the wolf, the more obvious it got, that he did not care at all what were doing. so i got closer, and even drove a short distance right next to him.
then he branched off into the woods, but i guess not because of us, but rather because that was his route. how awesome is that, we got as close as about three or four metres to a wild wolf - lucky us. and we also were quite happy that we were safe in the car all the time.
we thought it could not get any better, so, after calming down again (we were soooo happy and excited), we drove down the road, when suddenly we crossed the path of the wolf[154-157] again. he must have taken the straight way, while we were meandering down the mountain road, so the timing was perfect; by happenstance.
back in jasper we spotted some more elks[158-159], it seems they are so used to cars and humans, they do not even seem to notice them while grazing on the roadside.
by now it was already pretty late and getting too dark for the camera, still we went to lake pyramid[160-166], where one can walk to a small island, called mckibbin island. the loop trail is only a few metres long, so we decided to add this one to our odometer.
and one last stop at lake patricia, since it was on our way home. but it was already too dark, so we just hopped off the car, looked around, and hopped on again.
back in jasper we both were pretty tired and exhausted, so we did not want to put too much effort into deciding which food to get. across our accommodation there is a big gas station with a family restaurant right next to it, with a big neon-light sign saying "pizza". and that is exactly what we had; a big american style pizza, as seen on tv commercials. thick, cheesy, and surprisingly delicious - and it was good we ordered one to share, because we both were totally stuffed.
fortunately we only had to cross the street to get to our beds, because that was just the place we wanted to be then. what a great day.
track for day 16