The Seventh Day of Christmas: Gift Ideas for the Travel Lover

There’s nothing like a good hike, especially when on a road trip, while stuck in the car for so many hours in a day. I really fell in love with hiking a few years ago, and am now addicted!

Here’s some handy items that I would absolutely love for a walk up the side of Mount Washburn, in Yellowstone National Park (I’m not sure why that one popped into my head…):

A sturdy pair of hiking boots

A sturdy pair of hiking boots

Cosy jacket for the chilly mornings

Cosy jacket for the chilly mornings

Good, heavy duty socks

Good, heavy duty socks

Something cooler, when it starts getting hot!

Something cooler, when it starts getting hot!

Some handy pants, with pockets

Some handy pants, with pockets

Water bag

Water bag

Some cool shades

Some cool shades

The pack

The pack

Ok – can someone buy me a plane ticket to Wyoming…Yellowstone is calling me for a hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Where, where is the party?!

Again, wish I had a better lens for this one. I was zoomed in on grizzly bear #399 and her 3 cubs two years ago in Grand Teton National Park, as they made their way across Willow Flats in search of a better bush to munch on.

If you want to see more photos of #399 and her story, check out my other posts on this fascinating bear:

1. 399 photo

2. 399 photo

3. 399 photo

4. 399 photo

 

Top 5: Otter Photos

I’ve been lucky in Yellowstone these past 2 summers, watching groups of otters doing their thing – and the shows have apparently been quite a rare thing to witness according to others.

Here are my top 5 photos of les otters from the past two summers:

Number 5

Golden light, watching these cute little dudes sleep on a fallen log over one of the most beautiful lakes I have seen (Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park).

Number 4

Mama, eating her trout and fighting off her 2 pups. What a task. PS – some noisy tourist disrupted their flow, that’s what they are looking at!

Number 3

How waterproof does their fur look? Nice.

Number 2

Nice whiff of a fresh trout being eaten. Yum – she sure enjoyed it!

Number 1

I have a whole sequence of this – including his/her brother/sister coming to join. Unfortunately, my lens was set at manuel, and resulted in somewhat blurry photos. Ahh…there is always next year, I hope!

Black vs Grizzly bear – who is who?

I’ve been lucky enough in the past 3 summers to immerse myself in nature and to do this with an expert in wildlife, my boyfriend.

Since seeing my first bear in 2009, it has been my mission to pick out the difference between a black bear and grizzly bear, as other tourists would often shout out that they have just seen a grizzly bear, when, in fact – it was a black bear.

There are a few key differences to help differentiate between the two:

1. Black bears have a straight snout, while grizzlies have a dished in snout/face profile.

2. Black bears do not have a pronounced shoulder hump, while grizzlies do.

3. Black bears ears stick out more, grizzlies are less pronounced.

4. Black bears have shorter claws, you can definitely see grizzlies light long claws a lot more clearly.

5. Black bears, for the most part are much smaller than grizzlies.

Guess the bear – black or grizzly:

Bear #1

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #2

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #3

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #4

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #5

Waterton, Alberta

Bear #6

Waterton, Alberta

Bear #7

Kananaskis, Alberta

Answers:

#1 – Grizzly #2 – Black Bear #3 – Grizzly #4 – Black Bear #5 – Black Bear #6 – Black Bear #7 – Grizzly

How did you do?

PS – Read my view on wildlife photography.

Photo: You Otter Like This!

Sorry for the title.

These otters (there were four of them) were so entertaining this summer at Trout Lake in Yellowstone National Park. More story to come – I am hoping to have my boyfriend ‘guest blog’ for these lil guys. He was so impressed and inspired by them.

Please also vote for the featured scene for the header of my blog! I’ll tally the votes next Monday.

Photo: La Luna

I loved the colour of the sky here, as the moon rose above the hill here in Sedge Bay, near the East Gate in Yellowstone National Park.

Here I was, with my boyfriend, his parents and all of our camera’s. We were attempting to photograph marmots that were climbing all over the rock outcroppings at the base of this hill you see in the photo. My attention started to wander, as it always does, and I saw the moon rise up, and place itself in a very beautiful deep blue sky.

If you are looking for some peace – go here.

Happy Birthday MOM!

For her 39th birthday (39th for how many years in a row?)

We discovered this random courtyard in Quebec City. So silent and spooky!

She’s a secret expert photographer!

Her first grizzly bear sighting ever. How appropriate – the famous Scarface in Yellowstone.

Hawaii trip:

Heleakala – thanks for the jacket, mom!

I don’t think she wants her pic up, so here’s a pic she took of me!

The green sand – the same colour as her shirt and her eyes

Nene!!!

Sunset in Lahaina, does it get any better?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Mailing a letter AND relieving yourself all at once.

A mailbox

A mailbox that is beside an outhouse

Your welcome.

No explanation needed, right? It’s so convenient. Out here in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Why wouldn’t I think to mail my hydro bill on this lonely road in the middle of a national park while about to head into a stinky ol outhouse?

#2 Hike of the Summer: Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone

I actually lost sleep last night deciding on what hike I would place in the #2 spot, and which one would be the ultimate #1 hike that I completed this summer. It was a very tight competition,  both with spectacular views and a great challenge.

BUT alas, one had to receive the silver medal, and after much flip flopping, Avalanche Peak by the East Gate won the second prize.

With a 2,100 foot elevation gain, the view of Yellowstone park at 10, 568 feet was SPECTACULAR! It took my breath away, as did most of the haul uphill. The recommended 4 – 6 hour experience lasted my boyfriend and I a shade under an hour and a half. This was partly due to the approaching dark clouds. With this being one of the tallest peaks in the region, we didn’t want to get caught in the lightning storm, obviously! So I must say, it was a quick jog down – straight down. I mean, I actually slid down the side of the mountain where the snow hadn’t melted yet.

Yes – it was steep. The steepest hike I have ever done, actually.

There wasn’t a dull moment on the hike up – filled with large aspens, and bright green ferns at ground level. A few springs popped out around the trail, and a hop or two over them were an adventure. I really DID mean to wash my hiking boots on this trip…

Once we arrived at the first opening, we were greeted with a snowy ground, a pretty little lake, and huge STORM CLOUDS quickly heading our way. We decided it was possible to beat the incoming rain if we quickened our pace. Phew – easier said than done. The elevation was getting to me, and the commencing shale trail was a bit tricky to cross.

The opening! If you could look to the left – pitch black skies!

We saw a few groups turning back due to the tricky ground and one couple in a bit of a tizzy – they had just seen a BEAR on the trail! Gasp – so we proceed with caution with our bear spray in hand, with the couple, as they pointed out the bear they were so worried about – a tiny deer about a mile away grazing on a grassy knoll. I actually had to get my binoculars out to see it. Oops.

Onward and upward, leaving that couple in the dust to coo over the deer.

After a careful,  yet quick march to the summit, we were greeted by a solo hiker sitting cross legged staring off into the distance. It felt appropriate when I greeted him and asked, “so, the meaning of life is…..?”. He also found that quite hilarious and admitted that he was trying to catch his breath.

The summit was actually not at this first peak, you actually have to go across a short ridge, and there you will find the official summit. And what you see when you look around this 360 degree view is amazingness all around. From this vantage point, you could see everything! We could point out Yellowstone Lake, Mount Washburn, even the Tetons which were 50 miles to the south!

If you are looking for the best view in the park – stop here and I dare you to find a better one.

Stormy!

Hiking with 10,000 lbs of camera gear.

 

 

PS – watch out for the wind 🙂

Photo: Wish this was me…

Wait a minute – that IS me!

This is where I wish I was right now, though. It’s cold and rainy here in Toronto, and the school year is in full gear. Soon the leaves will change colour, the snow will begin, and the dreary winter months will drag on and on and on.

Me thinks it’s too early to be daydreaming about my summer 2013 plans, but I know that it will involve this position – on a rock, with a good book, beside a gorgeous lake, in a park, waiting for wildlife to appear in front of my camera.