Friday, June 20, 2008


The approach to the Rockies

Having cleared the outskirts of Calgary on my way west on highway 1 just as the sun cleared the eastern horizon in the rear view mirrors of my truck I knew that I was in for a glorious morning. Off to the west the Rockies were ablaze in all their glory with a fresh covering of snow the result of the weather we had experienced lately, although at lower elevations the moisture had came in the form of rain and lots of it. The afternoon forecast was for showers but for now that was the furthest thing on my mind as I proceeded west with a freshly brewed cup of Rocky Mountain Chai tea that I had brewed on the strong side with real milk added along with a dollop of honey. Throughout the rest of the day I drink my tea black as I have since my first recollection of drinking tea as a youngster growing up in a home with a mother who was a passionate tea drinker. The secret to a good cup of tea besides a good grade of loose leaf tea, is in the preparation that most people seem to fall down on. Use pure or mineral water to brew the tea. Tap water should be avoided, since its chemical treatment imparts undesirable flavors and odors which interfere with the delicate aromatics of tea. I always use bottled water both at home and away from home as well. If you are brewing Black tea or Oolong tea bring your water to a rolling boil. If it is green tea that you are brewing it is very important that you bring your water to steam and not to a rolling boil!! If the water reaches a rolling boil allow it to settle for a minute before pouring the water over your green leaf tea. This will prevent the green leaf tea from being scorched and becoming bitter. Use a infuser for your loose leaf tea and stop the infusion by removing it when the tea is brewed to your satisfaction. Sorry for going on so long about how to make a great cup of tea and getting away from the wonderful morning that was all around me in the form of great early morning light that made for a beautiful landscape as the rolling foothills along the eastern slopes transformed into the Rockies further west. Before long I found myself pulling over and with my camera and tripod in hand, I walked through knee deep grass still dripping wet with the heavy dew provided by the overnight temperatures and the recent rains. But who cared on a morning that was proving to be starting out most magical. It did not hurt either that the sky was awash with wonderful cloud formations that would soon burn off but for now belonged in the landscape photos that I hurriedly shot before this great light lost its magical powers. Rushing down the road a ways found me once more pulled over for another vista to be captured that appeared before me as though in a dream. I finally had to give up on the landscape photos as my destination for the morning was just ahead. I switched from my landscape photographer self to my wildlife photographer self as I made the turn from highway 1 into Bow Valley Provincial Park, where coming around a corner I startled several elk that had been grazing in a meadow near Middle Lake.I pulled in to the parking area at Middle Lake where I enjoy wandering about with my cameras in the meadows surrounding the lake that at this time of the year are normally covered in wildflowers that grow everywhere in abundance. I realized that it would be somewhat early for wildflowers as the weather of late had set everything back by several weeks. After a quick walk about I drove to my final destination in the park that being the 'Many Springs' trail head, located about 2 km west following the paved road that goes through the park. This is a 2.4 km loop around a spring fed lake. This trail is known for its abundance of spectacular flowers. This is also an area known for its diversity of birds. Spectacular views open towards the north, revealing Mount Yamnuska, Loder peak and Door Jamb Mountain. At various points, the trail goes directly over the lake with a boardwalk allowing for close study of life in the water below. A series of beaver dams back water up that floods the trails yearly and this year as in past years the trails had been under water and several days earlier the dams had been busted open to allow the flooded trails to dry making them accessible to the birders and photographers as well as nature lovers that frequent the area. I suggest that if you go that you make it early as at this time of the year and throughout the summer, this is a very popular destination. I spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering about on the Many Springs trail and the Middle Lake meadow area and will return soon. I have been here before when the meadows are covered in spectacular flowers, especially orchids such as the Yellow Lady Slipper orchids and the Calypso orchids that grow along the Many Springs trail. Of course I don't want to forget the Western Wood Lily and my personal favorite Prairie Smoke" for the fluffy appearance once the clusters of maroon or plum-colored flowers have gone to seed. This is just a few of the wild flowers found here that come to mind. Till then - take care when boiling the water for tea.
Remember: All photos expand

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