Mum and I spent most of the day yesterday, on the road between Invermere and Calgary. Mum had an appointment in the city so we decided to combine that trip with a big grocery shop ... and leisurely drives through the Kootenay and Banff National Parks en route!
This photo was taken on the way home in the Kootenay NP, just west of the Marble Canyon complex. There was a major forest fire in the park a few years ago which left many trees scorched and starkly denuded. At this time of year, though, the alpine flowers (fireweed, I think?) brighten up the scene:
We are SO lucky to live on the doorsteps of both of these parks, so we took our time in both directions. We left home just after 6am so the road eastward was very quiet, and we pottered along at about 70, even though the speed limit in the parks is 80-90kph. We saw about 3 cars and 3 trucks on the way to Calgary, but on the way back it was pretty busy, being Friday afternoon, and many people were passing us like we were standing still (many paid for that mistake!).
Anyway, on the way to Calgary through the park we didn't see much besides a handful of deer and crows/ravens ... except for our first sighting of a wolf in the wild! Lesson learned here: Have the camera out and ready, not sitting in the bag! So you'll just have take my word for it that that's what we saw! Awesome!
Once we popped out the far side of Banff NP, we had to go with the traffic flow at 110kph (that's what I did all the way - I swear!) because our time was limited. The scenery, though, between the park boundary and Calgary is really gorgeous rural stuff with rolling green hills, some of the fields with hay bales dotted around, cattle, horses, broken-down barns ... but alas, no time for stopping to take pictures!
On the way home, another big first for me, I saw my first wild grizzly bear! More lessons learned here ... don't get too excited about what you're photographing! I had no trouble with manual settings as I'd preset my camera as much as possible, and just had to make a couple of minor adjustments to shutter speed. However, I had the 70-200 lens loaded, together with the 2x converter. What'd I do? I forgot to extend the lens to it's longest ... so these photo's were shot at about 145mm (instead of 400!!!) and are heavily cropped. Doh!!! So frustrated with myself for that. The pic's aren't as sharp as I'd like, but they'll give you a good idea of the scene:
After we'd been watching for about 10 minutes, a park warden pulled up, every available light on his vehicle flashing ... and he pulled RIGHT up close to the front of our stopped car. We thought we were in for a ticket for stopping, for sure! Instead, he just ambled over, asked us what we'd seen, explained how this particular bear was known for charging and that he (the bear) was being sensitized to humans and that he (the warden) was pleased to hear that the bear had headed across the river away from the people who'd stopped to look at him. Then he (the warden) politely asked us to "move along" - maybe he was kind to us because, unlike many others who'd stopped, we'd stayed in the car.
While the warden was talking, I kept my eye on the bush across the river in case the bear re-appeared ... and he did! By this time, I'd discovered my lens error, so managed to catch this better shot:
I will be going back into the parks before the end of the summer, for sure!