Pleased to wake to yet another day of sunshine, the girls and I wrapped up our morning routine and hit the road yet again. This time for a day trip out to Miette Hot Springs with plans of hiking Utopia Trail.
The drive out Highway-16 was pleasant, with lakes, mountains and beautiful skies as far as the eye could see. I drove along, content to fill my senses with the grandeur, periodically stopping for a scene that was just begging to be photographed, like the two below along Talbot Lake.
Not far beyond Talbot Lake I spotted a few Big Horn Sheep coming down a treacherous looking cliffside. I am always amazed by the agile footing of the Big Horn, as well as their fellow mountaineers, the Mountain Goat.
I stopped and grabbed my camera just in time to catch this ewe leap cleanly across a sizable creek. In no time, there were several more of these animals coming down and crossing the roadway. Luckily for them many visitors stop to watch and photograph them, making it clear… even to the uninterested… that there is wildlife near the roadway.
After getting my fill of the critters close by I turned around and glanced back up the hillside behind me. Judging by the size of this ram’s horns I figured he was the leader of the pack. He certainly looked “lordly”, calmly perched above all the others as if watching over his kingdom.
When we reached Miette Hot Springs I spotted a few more Big Horn roaming through the parking lot. The girls and I geared up for the trail and headed out a paved pathway toward the trail. The path followed along a small stream that put off a strong smell of sulphur. I bent down to touch it and was amazed at the temperature… 130 degrees I found out later.
A bit farther up the trail we came upon the ruins of an old hotel, the Miette Aquacourt build in 1938. After a quick look around we started up the trail which followed and eventually crossed over Utopia Creek. It appeared that very few visitors journey beyond the ruins, because we saw no one else on the trail beyond.
On the way back toward the highway I kept glancing at the unique ridge-line of the mountains nearby thinking they looked a bit like the back of a sleeping Stegosaurus. (My imagination does run a bit wild sometimes.) And of course the return drive wouldn’t be complete without a few more Big Horn.
And why not throw in a few more bear for good measure! This momma black bear and her cubs were fun to watch for a bit. One of the cubs was particularly independent, roaming without fear (even with me close by) much farther from his mother than his sibling.
By this time I’d pretty much come to expect to see elk everywhere I went. These two beautiful bull elk did not disappoint. I was actually a bit surprised to see two mature bulls comfortably grazing and resting in such close proximity, but I guess their aggression toward one another is limited to their rut season in the fall.
The landscape and ever changing clouds continued to woo me everywhere I went in Jasper National Park. No matter where you are in this park the beauty is grand in every direction.
And the show was far from over!! While back in my campsite that evening a female elk came grazing very close to me, and a short while later I stepped to the edge of the parking lot to photograph the antics of several young elk. Two of them practiced the jousting they would eventually have to face as adults (assuming they were male), but all of them hopped and scampered playfully across a big open field toward the recently vacated playground.
My final treat of the day was watching this little guy from my nearby perch. When all the others had moved on down the hill, this one stayed… transfixed on me. So precious!!
As if that weren’t enough, there’s still more of Jasper National Park to come… and quite possibly the most spectacular part of all!! Don’t miss my next post about my day at Maligne Lake!! (Sign up for email notifications if you haven’t… envelope icon at the top of the page.)
My 2015 Journey In Focus Calendars are now available at pre-order discount prices!! Quantity orders are discounted even further, and make wonderful gifts!! (New design, and larger size!) For pricing and ordering follow this link to Art, Books and More.