Top 4 hikes a la summer- #4 Specimen Ridge, Yellowstone

Welcome to Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. One of my favorite areas in this vast park.

I know I mentioned earlier that I would talk about my top 3 hikes this summer, but I just had to include my #4 pick.

At a starting elevation of 8864 feet (end 9600 feet), it’s very surprising if you happen to see anyone else on the trail (aside from a herd of pronghorn).

As the name states, it is one of the ridges of Amethyst Mountain, starting just past the Yellowstone River.  And you basically have this place to yourself. Not many people set out to hike this trail, that, as we discovered, had many paths.

And, as the name also states, you may see some fine specimen on this trail, including: pronghorn, grizzly bear, elk, bison, and rarely, moose.

Which path to take? Umm, we decided uphill was the way to go – the steeper, the better.

What my boyfriend and I found amazing about this hike, aside from the lack of people on the trail, was the glimpse we got of Yellowstone ‘behind the scenes’.

We could see, to our right, the Tower Falls area. A place where we spent countless hours watching two sets of black bears with cubs. We had no idea how enormous the area was behind the ridge. Imagine all the wildlife we would be able to spot if we could have seen into this area!! It just blew my mind.

To our left, we could see the entrance to the Lamar Valley, and again, our mouths were dropped at the areas we would never have be able to see from the road.

Difficulty? I would say moderate. It’s a high elevation hike, little shade, and steep hills. Make sure you have good hiking boots, or you might end up downhill skiing as I did on the way back.

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Home, aka Toronto

BAM!

I am back to being a city girl once again. The place fueled by road rage, bright lights in tall towers, sounds of multiple sirens flying across the streets, and smoggy layers of air.

But I still love it.

Totally missing nature already though. And work was quite a culture shock today (and yesterday when I drove in). I couldn’t quite get used to all the people around, the makeup I had to apply, and I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to use a blow-dryer.

This has been on my mind all day at work:

Jasper, Alberta

Stay tuned for #3 from my top 3 hikes this summer! Hint – hellooooo Wyoming!

Hittin the road again

I am off today on a 9 day journey back to Toronto, via Nelson B.C., Waterton, A.B., Grasslands National Park, Sask., Riding Mountain National Park, Man., Thunder Bay, Ont. and one final stop to break up T. Bay to Toronto.

Phew.

So long Vancouver, I’ll miss you!

Let the driving begin!!

Grizzy Bear Cub – Kananaskis

Could this be the cutest bear ever?

Taken in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. What a stunning and wild part of Alberta to visit. Just awe inspiring – raw, beautiful, wild…

I would buy the stuffed animal of this lil griz.

Tourists

I really enjoy the part of camping and hiking where I can get off the path of most resistance (aka throngs of tourists in the way) and hike to an area where you MAY see another living being, but more likely you will see a bear.

Anyway, I was reminded that, when I am a tourist, I cannot complain about them. I must embrace them and be one with them. Check out Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper:

The shot – taken in 0.0001 seconds, not framed, or tripod-ed and standing on the wooden railing while my boyfriend hung on to my legs for support

The chaos behind the shot

Wait until I show you some of the views from my hikes. There is no chaos behind the scenes. It’s just another gorgeous and peaceful shot waiting to be taken.

Sigh.

Photo – Look ma, I can read!

Medicine Lake – Jasper, Alberta

I caught this big horn baby behind me as I was attempting to take a few photos of his/her mom. It was hilarious, this little guy spent about 5 minutes looking on at the information board as if he was reading about how his home was created.

Just so you don’t feel left out, this is what the little guy is reading about:

Medicine Lake, Jasper

During the summer, glacier melt waters flood the lake, sometimes overflowing it. In fall and winter the lake disappears, becoming a mudflat with scattered pools of water connected by a stream. But there is no visible channel draining the lake – so where then does the water go?

The answer is, “out the bottom”, like a bathtub without a plug. The Maligne River pours into the lake from the south and drains out through sinkholes in the bottom. The water then streams through a cave system formed in the slightly soluble limestone rock, surfacing again in the area of Maligne Canyon 16 kilometers downstream. This is one of the largest known sinking rivers in the Western Hemisphere and may be the largest inaccessible cave system anywhere in the world!

Summer melt water coming into the lake exceeds the capacity of the sinkholes to drain it. Decreased melt water in the late summer and fall means that the lake’s sinkholes can drain the lake faster then the Maligne River can fill it. This creates the disappearing lake phenomena. Aboriginal peoples called the lake Medicine because of its seemingly magical powers, and the United Nations created the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site partly because of this unique drainage system.

Parks Canada

Now you know!

Not too shabby, living in Vancouver

I am here in West Vancouver, babysitting a dog for a week and I absolutely LOVE it here. It’s my third time visiting the “best place on earth” – according to the limited edition license plates they produced. There is a picturesque scene awaiting me at every turn, so I believe this saying 100%!

Yesterday, I went for a jog around the neighbourhood:

Along the seawall in W. Vancouver

Keeping me motivated near the end of the jog

What a great way to explore the city. I could not believe some of the houses around this area. Jaw dropping…and what scenery to look out to!

I’m excited to get downtown Vancouver in the next few days and explore the view from the other side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge. I have driven downtown several times already this trip, and I can tell you that the road system is NOT the best place on earth. Traffic jam city!

After the jog yesterday, we met up with a few of my boyfriends friends and headed out in a boat around Howe Sound and Bowyer Island.

Again, my jaw was dropping at all the views around me. I even saw 4 different seals swimming around our boat. So neat!

A seal! Too bad I didn’t bring my Nikon

Never a dull moment in Vancouver…