Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

If I was hoping to see stars over head any time soon, it was a good thing that I enjoyed them while I could, as the province of British Columbia is burning, and all the smoke being generated by the fires has been gathered up by the jet stream and scattered before the winds. Of course sooner than later all that smoke had to come down somewhere, and that somewhere proved to be on the east side of the Rockies on the province of Alberta. We here in Calgary have been somewhat fortunate, as our neighbours to the north have been hit especially hard, with smoke in Edmonton so thick that it is visible in the air at the end of the block, as reported by my friend Brian- VE6BCA.

Luck of the draw I suppose, as I have been comparing our summer here in Alberta with the summer that British Columbianites have been experiencing, via text-messaging on my Blackberry 20 times a day with my kid who is attending VFS (Vancouver Film School). I have had to put up with to much information about the greatest sun-tan she has ever had, and how the commute to school on her bike along the ocean is to die for, and on it goes. Meanwhile we in Alberta have not strung two nice days together in a row all summer, that is not broken up with violent thunderstorms that have been throwing anything and everything that mother-nature can throw at us, including golf-ball size hailstones that pulverized thousands of vehicles in Calgary.

We do have our days however, and on one of those days I played tour-guide to my sister Julie who was in town for a week. With the car full of gas and my kin loaded up, we made the run for the high-country of the Kananaskis via Longview and over to Highwood-House, where we turned north on the Kananaskis highway that makes the climb to the Highwood Pass, Canada's highest drivable pass on a numbered highway at a altitude of 7239 ft above sea-level. I had to laugh, as both my sister and my dad, were suffering from plugged ear syndrome as we made the drive towards the summit of the Highwood pass. I guess they don't spend enough time in the high-country! My sister enjoyed her first time out this way, and shot a lot of photos of what she described as "majestic mountains". I was pleased upon stopping at the Rock Glacier just below the pass, that Julie was able to see her first Pika (rock rabbit). If you have never seen a Pika, your missing out on a wonderful little animal that is found in rock slides at higher elevations in the mountains.

If you are in a area where pikas are found, you will most likely hear them before you see one. A sound like a "eek-eek" will be your first clue that they are nearby. When you spot one, he will be to busy rushing to and fro, to stop for a photo-op, although if you work at it you can succeed in capturing the pika on film (ok, compact flash cards). The Pika has no time for posing,as he is playing farmer and gathering up grass that it places on rocks to dry in the sun. Once this grass has dried, the Pika stores this grass in storage areas near its burrow where it is available for the Pika to feed on throughout the winter months, as the Pika does not go in to hibernation.

Once on the north side of the pass, a stop was made at Kananaskis Lakes, where we had lunch at the Boulton Creek Bistro. Back on the road, numerous stops were made for more photo-ops, including a stop that included photos of what had proven to be most elusive on this day, a Bighorn Mountain Sheep making the day a sucess, and after a 11 hour day and 400 kilometers with numerous stops for photo-ops, we called it a day.

No comments yet