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!

R.I.P. Sir Elk

It’s been such a wonderful summer.

So many fabulous wildlife adventures and photographs taken, a ‘new’ camera inherited (story to come soon), and countless amazing meals eaten along the beaten trail.

I am so sad that it is coming all to an end…BUT not just yet.

There is this brief hiatus in Vancouver babysitting my boyfriend’s parents dog while they are off on an amazing African adventure. After that stop, we are on the road again.

This time, it’s not through the states, but through the quirky Trans Canada Highway en route back to Toronto. Instead of the 2 loooooong driving days to Yellowstone from Toronto, we are taking 9 – 10 days to slowly working our way back across Canada via some interesting Canadian historical sites (eg. The last spike, the burial ground of Louis Riel…).

BUT I must share a very brief and very sad short story with you that has been casting a gloomy cloud over my head, despite a very sunny and warm Vancouver, and a very excitable and heart warming dog to babysit.

There I was in Jasper, Alberta among a huge crowd of people photographing one of three amazing bull elks with crazy racks that I have now known for three years. Ps, a side note – I’ve been learning all the innate wildlife talk – it could have gotten more technical than that 🙂 more technical than ‘crazy racks’.

These elk were so docile and accommodating to the throngs of people, young and old…in their faces snapping off photos with flash, yelling, running in front of them, stalking them, attempting to feed them…you name it. I was impressed, yet again this summer, and so happy to see these stunning elk so healthy after three years running.

The morning we were set to leave Jasper, just 3 days ago, we were stopped to photograph a black bear with one cub on the Icefields Parkway when a motorcycle stopped beside us and gave my boyfriend some very saddening news.

This one guy from the three bull elks (the smaller one as he is known) had just been hit and killed by a transport truck on the Yellowhead Highway where we always see him.

It was heartbreaking and so damn frustrating and it has kept me heavy hearted ever since I heard the news.

R.I.P.

In Yellowstone!!!

It will be 3 weeks tomorrow, and I am loving it!

So much to describe here, but my internet time is quite limited, so I’ll show you a pic from the Specimen Ridge hike in Lamar Valley.

WHAT A VIEW!

Fare thee well

A great blogger friend of mine once told me not to apologize for leaving, so I will just say – farewell, and see you soon!

I shall post when I have internet access again this summer.

But do not fret, my sister and my friend will be here to keep you company once in a while as well.

See you all in August!! Happy travels!

Photos of the Day – The White Wolf Waits for Wistfully Wandering to Wind Up There

Ohhh too much… but the title is staying.

As I bounce off my seat itching to get on the road to Yellowstone, I was reminiscing about some of the great wildlife encounters I experienced there last summer.

Here are some of my favs:

First wildlife sighting in Teton – Elk on alert!

Grizzy 399 and 2 of her 3 cubs she had last year. Down to none apparently now 😦 although the rumour is they still survive – 1 with the grizzly 610, and 2 are lost, but well.

Awww Sedgehog (I don’t come up with these names 🙂 in Sedge Bay, Yellowstone

The white wolf…hence the cringe worthy title of the post.

Mr/s. Marmot in Sheepeaters, Yellowstone

The lone bison walks the line

I could keep going and going, but I will stop at my favorites in Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I also saw a large variety of wildlife in the Canadian Rockies, including big horned sheep, mountain goats, a cougar (such a rare and amazing sight!), elk with huge racks, and a ton of foxes, coyotes and a brief glimpse of black wolves.

CAN’T WAIT!

Practice makes perfect.

I really need to play around with this Nikon DSLR before I head out in less than a week to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Wildlife will of course be my #1 priority, I’ll attempt landscape when I can too.

Here are a few tips I have learned from the past 2 years practicing wildlife photography:

1. Always find something to stabilize your camera. 

From Amazon

I often roll up my window half way in order to rest my camera on the pane. I also often use a tripod, but sometimes it doesn’t work out, since some wildlife comes right up to the road, and I don’t want to take my chances out of the car.

My father also gave me a pad to help rest my camera on the window of my car.

2. Stay cool, calm and patient if the wildlife is near (just stay cool and calm all the time anyway!)

I’ve seen a few crazy tourists run up to wildlife and, thankfully, it has only ever ended up with the wildlife being chased off. It’s a bit disturbing and frustrating what tourists will do to get close to dangerous and unpredictable wildlife for a quick picture.

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

A funny experience happened as about 30 people were happily shooting photographs of a beaver in Yellowstone. And as they were all focused in the beaver, I was observing the surrounding area, when – ta daaaa – a white wolf popped out of the bushes and proceeded to swim across the river, where the beaver was posing, perhaps 8 feet away. I think I was the victorious one, capturing the wolf’s dip and then able to grab a few beaver photos after.

Plus – you should always make sure you are safe from sneaky animals. Those bison are so huge, yet so quiet when they saunter over toward your car…

4. RESPECT the wildlife!

It’s hard not to have an impact on the behaviour of an animal close to the road. Just make sure you stay out of the way, don’t startle it, and listen to the park rangers if they are around. Don’t be an idiot and feed them. I’ve seen that too many times in the very short months I have been photographing.

5. Time it right!

The beloved golden light that appears with the sunrise and sunset. The best time to photograph anything! And also the best time to spot wildlife, as most of these guys love resting in the day.

Teton’s at sunrise

Just can’t wait to get up at 4:30am every morning this summer, sans coffee. NOT!

6. Practice, practice, practice!

Check out these two photos of a grizzly bear in Kananaskis, Alberta. The first one was taken 2 summers ago, the second was from last summer. (not the same bear, but same lighting and location).

I hope this means that my grizzly shots will be 3D this summer! hah.

Much clearer!

With all I have picked up over the few months I’ve been photographing wildlife, I still have a long way to go. And I still need a great camera!