Saturday, June 16, 2007

Loose Moose

What can I say except that I wasn't ready! I spent the last two week-ends looking for a Cow Moose with calves and today after spending several hours hiking up and down trails and checking out bogs in Kananaskis Country, I had more or less given up for the day. Being that the winter-gates had been opened yesterday I decided to drive to the end of Route 66 and make my way across to Sibald Flats on the Powderface Trail. As I came up to the junction with Little Elbow and Powderface I decided to first check out a beaver pond just up ahead on the road in to Little Elbow. I parked my truck and with my camera and tripod in hand I made my way down this hill to the beaver ponds planning on setting up for a photo or two. After sliding the last few meters to the waters edge, what do I see but a very startled Cow moose with calves just about 20 meters away from me.

Wouldn't you know it, here I sat on my butt in the mud after sliding down this muddy slope from my truck and all I had for a lens mounted on my camera was my extreme wide angle that I had planned on shooting photos of this series of ponds in this meadow. The Moose took off with her calves in tow and I scrambled up the slope to my truck for a longer lens. I detached the wideangle and grabbed my 70/200 with 1.4 tele-extender and hot footed it back down to the pond sliding most of the way. I was wet anyway so what was a little more mud. I was in luck as the moose with her calves was in no hurry as she made her way across the pond and down the other side of this network of ponds in the meadow. I had to go to a ISO 800 as the light was quite poor due to the low hanging clouds and trees all around this meadow.

Fortunately The Moose were in no hurry and I managed to get a few respectable photos as they made their way through the trees on the other side of the pond. When they were in quite heavy cover, they stopped and after a time the calves layed down to rest. I found a spot where I could observe them and did the same as I was wet anyway and a mist coming down could not make me much wetter than I was. Soon the cow lied down and unfortunately she was blocking my view of the second calf as this photo shows. After I had satisfied myself that I had shot enough photos and it was plain to see that the Cow and her calves were enjoying chewing their cud and probably would not move again till feeding time later in the day. I called it done and headed back to the truck.

I am not sure as to the elevation as I had forgotten my GPS but I was definitely in the low lying clouds as this photo shows. The rain varied from a mist to fairly heavy showers at times. I realized that Powderface would be quite muddy so I decided to not chance it and headed back down Route 66. I should explain it is actually Secondary Highway 66 however I have always called it Route 66. It's probably not as famous as the real Route 66.

I of course cannot pass up a opportunity for a likely looking photo such as this pole fence that caught my eye, so several stops were in order for the various photo-ops that I came upon on the drive back on Route 66. The rain let up after while as I dropped down to lower elevations. I had the truck heater on to dry off and it was proving effective as I was drying nicely other than my boots. On these forays I like to wear a light pair of breathable nylon pants as they dry very quickly if you need to ford a creek or get caught in the rain or do the moose slide. They are also great for wadding wet while flyfishing.

I thought that there was a outside chance that I might get a photo or two of wildflowers. However as the weather was not co-operating, I gave up on that idea after this one photo of these half drowned- half open Field Chickweed.

I had stopped at the Visitor's Center just before leaving Kananaskis Country near the Blueberry campground to check out their interesting collection of books they have for sale. I had just pulled up in front of the Visitor's Center when my attention was drawn to the trees nearby where these two squirrels were trying to kill each other as they raced up and down the various trees chasing one another. They were quite comical to watch and I felt it warranted a photo. At this point in this photo they have lost sight of each other for the moment.

I finished browsing through the Visitor's Center's very nice collection of books and made one purchase to add to my collection. Back on Route 66 I drove the few kilometers to where I made the turn on to the backroad into Bragg Creek. I spotted this white-tailed deer off to the side of the road and pulled up to fire off a shot out the window of the truck. This is a Whitetailed buck that is just growing antlers that are in the soft velvet stage before they turn bony. Well it's just a few kilometers into Bragg Creek where they have a very nice Bistro where I plan on having lunch before continuing into Calgary with a planned stop at my favorite shop "The Camera Store" to purchase a couple of items that I require.

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