Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wolf Territory

Ten Thousand Years ago natives camping on the shores of Vermilion Lakes beneath the wind swept slopes of Mount Rundle awoke as the dawn broke giving hope that the hunting for moose, deer and possibly a mammoth would prove bountiful on this day. At the time as is true today, a warm spring kept a portion of the lake from freezing over even in the most frigid weather.
This allowed for fish to be caught and water to be drawn at any time of the year. With its abundant animal life, clean water and wood for fuel and lodges, as well as stone nearby for tools and weapons, all was well in this place of beauty just as it was on this morning as I found myself slumbering in the heat of my lodge, actually, that is my truck cab moments earlier, with soothing sounds coming forth from the speakers of my radios. I had left Calgary several hours earlier with Banff National Park in mind as my destination on this day. After the -20 Celsius temperatures of a week ago, I was pleased with the temperatures that we had been experiencing for the last few days, and this morning was a continuance of this fine weather. After clearing the Banff Park gates, and upon reaching the Vermilion Lakes road, I drove the short distance and found the spot in the pre-dawn darkness that I had photographed Mount Rundle from before. I knew from my past visits in the winter months, that there was a series of ponds, that were part of Vermilion Lakes,. and they rarely froze over through the coldest winter months. With a glance towards the eastern horizon from time to time, I worked a number of stations on 80 meters on my HF radio. I had made a list as to what I hoped to achieve while checking out the back roads of the park, and high on that list, I hoped to shoot photographs of wolves. I had tried before without success, however I planned on sticking with it until I achieved this goal. So as the dawn breaks with great promise as it did 10,000 years ago, my cameras and I are ready for what I hope will be many fine captures on this day. I enjoyed a chuckle upon setting my bean-bag over a stump at the edge of the open -water in my lead-photo, when four Mallards dropped in with a splash. I had taken several captures and was in the middle of a exposure when the ducks arrived. They created a wake that spread across the pond, and the results were predictable, with the slow shutter speed giving a blurred, milky effect to the water.With the captures of Mount Rundle a done deal, I drove the short distance to the Bow Valley Parkway, and headed west on this winding road. Fresh snow had fallen overnight, and the landscape was stunning in the early morning light. Now, what transpired next, is enough to make and ruin a person's day all at the same time. I had not driven more that a few kilometers, when around a bend in the road came a beautiful black wolf walking down the shoulder of the road towards me. I cannot remember when I was less prepared than I was at this most opportune of times. My one camera body had my long-lens mounted on it, and my other camera body, for whatever reason was still in one of my camera bags. With the wolf less that fifty feet away and on the move, I scrambled to change lens, all the time watching this black wolf who decided that he did not like sharing the road with me, and disappeared into the bush that bordered the Parkway. I sat there in the early morning light just a bit stunned to say the least. Well, what do you do? I did the only thing that I could do, and that was to laugh at myself and promised myself to be better prepared the next time that I found myself in wolf territory.

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