Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heading to Alberta 2008 - Jasper Park

Four weeks from today we will be on the road, set out on this years big adventure, so it is about time I got back to posting about last years spring trip to Northern Alberta, otherwise I won't be finished this one before we start out. We had spent the night at Mt. Robson Provincial Park and were headed to Jasper National Park, one of our favorites of the National Parks. We stopped at this spot, along the highway for some lunch and to give the dogs a bit of a walk. I was surprised at how little snow was on the mountains. After all it was still May, somehow I expected the mountains to be more 'snow covered'.

While Ernie gave Shantz a good walk I found this Butterfly enjoying the Dandelions. I think it is a Satyre Butterfly (my reference books are already packed in the camper and no doubt the spelling is wrong). After the break we hit the road and headed to our favorite campground in the park (well the favorite one that is open that early) - Snaring River. We like this campground because it is out of town and it is a really pretty spot.

After setting up we headed for a walk, the campground itself is quite treed, but I love this open alpine area which is beside the river.

This shot shows the river itself and the trail that runs along beside it.

The alpine area beside the river is full of wildflowers. It was a bit early in the season, but already these Windflowers or Anemones were in flower.

As was this cream colored Locoweed.

and these early Blue Violets. Since it was still early in the day, we decided to go for a drive up to Maligne Lake. This meant driving back to the town of Jasper and then taking the Malign Lake Road.

Maligne Lake is quite high up. There was a bit of snow still in shaded areas and parts of the lake were still frozen. The sun was sort of in the wrong position which is why this picture is so dark.

This was one of a family of young Gray Jays. It was rather eye opening to realize just how early these birds nest. Here it was the end of May, there was still snow on the ground, the lake was still partially frozen, you can see the grass is just starting to sprout - and already a nest had been built, eggs laid, hatched, young fed (on what?) and now the youngsters were out on their own, although mom wasn't far away!

We walked along the path beside the lake and were surprised to see these Harlequin Ducks on the lake, swimming along beside the ice. I always understood that Harlequin nested on fast moving streams and rivers, so I'm not sure what they were doing on this high alpine lake.

Back at the campground, spotted this Yellow Rump Warbler. This one, with the white under the chin, is of the Myrtle variety. This type is the type you expect to see in and on the east side of the Rockies, where the Audubon (with the yellow under the chin) is normally found on the west side of the Rockies.

One more look of the Snaring River, this shot taken from quite close to the road by which you access the campground. There is actually a bridge not far from here with an over flow campground further up the road.
We actually had an interesting experience there that evening (and the following one). We were in the trailer playing some sort of board game and Shantz was tied up outside, when we suddenly heard this very deep 'big dog' bark - looked at each other and Ernie went outside and quickly yelled at me to look out the the campground right next to us was a very large light gray canine. At first we thought it was a wolf, but later realized it was a very healthy coyote and he was very interested in Shantz. She was very agitated (we hadn't realized she could actually bark - we'd never heard her bark before - or since for that matter). We of course brought her in and it took almost half an hour for her to calm down. The next night....he was back again!

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