Friday, June 13, 2008

The Cowboy Trail

By now the rain had increased in velocity driven by the wind creating a sheet of water that was over powering the wipers on my truck. I slowed to 60kph as I climbed a grade on Highway 22 just south of Longview with visibility poor at best. For the past hour as I made my way south and west of Calgary, first past Spruce Meadows where the horses and their riders would be in the mud again this year, at the Spruce Meadows Nationals which seems a constant from year to year. I continued west till I came up on the turn to Millarville and turned south towards Turner Valley, which proved to be still in sleep mode as I passed through at 7:00am on my way over to Black Diamond. The Sheep river was running high and muddy as I made the approach to the Diamond where I would turn south towards Longview.
With visibility increasing somewhat, I passed the Mt. Sentinel Ranch where normally I would stop to shoot a photo or two with the ranch buildings framed by the majestic Canadian Rockies to the west, but today the ranch appeared as a mirage through the falling rain. I kept one eye on the road and the other on the views to the west that were wonderful with wave upon wave of rolling hills awash in various shades of saturated green, visible through the rain that finally caused the hills to disappear into the sky at the horizon with the mighty Rockies not visible on this day as they were shrouded by the veil created by the rain laden skies. The rain eased somewhat as Chain Lake came in to view just past the Indian Graves road that takes you west over the Hump before dropping down on to the 940 in Kananaskis Country. I was expecting to possibly see fisherman in boats out on the lake but alas it was not to be. To bad as photographs of fishing boats on the water can be wonderful as I have had success with photographs of those that I have shot on other lakes in the past. I proceeded down around the dam that holds back the water, with Willow Creek meandering through the meadow below the lake.I spooked two Great Blue Herons that had been fishing in Willow Creek as I crossed over a bridge that had a heavy cover of trees over the creek with the end result me watching them fly off down the creek to a new place to fish. After a few interesting captures along Willow Creek, I crossed Highway 22 taking the 533 that takes you over to Nanton. I had not been down this way for a time and recalled that there were a series of ponds along this road that were formed by beaver dams although I have yet to see a beaver. One of the ponds has a well built beaver house situated in the middle of the pond. As I pulled in to a approach near the ponds I was pleased to see that the rain had let up some. I wanted to get closer to one of the dams that required a short hike and after moping water off my camera for the last two hours, all my towels were becoming soaked. I was about to cross the fence in to the pasture holding the pond with the dam I wanted to photograph when I realized that the fence was electrified. Not taking any chances I found a spot where I was able to crawl under it without touching the fence. After making a soggy approach through water lying everywhere, I got my captures and with one final check for beavers who unlike me probably were enjoying the comforts of the beaver house in the middle of the pond backed up by the dam the beaver had constructed. Back in the truck after first removing my rain slicker, I pulled to the top of the grade on the 533 that would have hidden the Rockies from me had they been visible and now would had given me views out on to the plains to the east, but I had no visibility in that direction either as rain continued to fall. Coming over a small rise I quickly applied the brakes as a number of cowboys were attempting to move a half dozen cows across the 533 and were having no luck as the cows were in no mood to cross the highway. I pulled over watched with interest as several attempts were made to herd the cows across the 533 but to no avail. About the time it looked as if they would succeed, a vehicle would come along with the cows scattering back down into the ditch on the wrong side of the 533. Finally with the traffic stopped in both directions, the cows were finally herded across and once more were underway to the pasture that they had probably strayed from. I made several more stops along the way before I came in to Nanton from the west and with a glance at my watch I realized that I was famished. I pulled over and put some of my camera equipment away that was strewn everywhere. With the cab put back in order, I pulled up at the "Sommer House Tea Room" who serve the most terrific club house sandwiches. I was not disappointed and with lunch a done deal, I pointed my truck up the #2 towards Calgary with rain still coming down. But as I have stated here before, "you can't beat shooting pics on a rainy day." Catch ya later.
"Forget the cows...lets go back to the barn"

Remember- all photos expand

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