My route north from Yellowstone had to go through Bozeman this time meaning I would be taking some new roads. What an amazing state Montana is! I passed through many miles of wheat fields and pastures, not much traffic but what country to see.
After crossing into Canada near Glacer/Waterton NPs I went right through Banff, stopping at the Columbia Icefields Visitor Center for the night.
From there I made it to just north of Grand Cache where I found a very nice (and free) user maintained camping area. No designated sites as such, plenty of grass, a great spot to relax for 2 nights.
After that it was on to Dawson Creek and the Alaskan Highway. I stopped one night at a long rest area next to Muncho Lake. It was sunny then rained, then sunny and an rain again. Met some other folks traveling to AK, including one couple from France who had their small RV shipped to the souther tip of South America. They have been traveling from there north with a year and 4 months allotted for the travel. What an adventure! When I left that spot the next morning I saw a caribou, some woods bison, stone sheep, and assorted small bears, no grizzlies. When on the road even though I am always on the lookout it is very hard to stop to photograph the wildlife.
This trip I stayed in free spots(except at the ice fields), mostly larger rest areas with other travelers. The last night before I got to the Fairbanks area I had a rest area to myself, sort of. Around 9 pm I happened to look out the window facing the woods and saw a snowshoe hare….then I saw another one. The windows were really dirty so photographs were pointless. When they seemed to leave I went out and cleaned the windows. Then I checked again, they were back with their buddies. The day had been totally bereft of wildlife until then so I had some fun photographing the hares. They’re now in their summer coats, thought their feet are still white. I don’t know if they stay white or are just the last part to change color. Anyhow it was fun and of course the next morning when I walked the dogs they smelled the critters all over the place.
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Not a lot going on right now so I’ve taken the time to set up a couple of videos of a few of my images. This one shows some night images set to music. Images were taken in 2014 in the following national parks: Badlands, Denali, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Arches. While in Glacier and Yellowstone NPs I was fortunate to capture the Aurora Borealis. There are also a few images at the end that were taken in Florida. Astrophotography in the National Parks
The second video is a collection of images taken when I did both a day tour and a night tour of the Upper Antelope Slot Canyon in Page, AZ, in the spring of 2013. Upper Antelope Slot Canyon
I’ve just added a slide show comprised of images taken at the bear Viewing Platform in Hyder, AK. You’ll see Black bears, including a sow with a little cub, Grizzly Bears, a wolf, a raven and a brown bat. Photos were taken over a span of 12 days with the weather varying form sunny and warm to cold and rainy. I hope you enjoy it. Hyder Grizzlies & Friends
The ravens entertained us regularly, weren’t shy and were very vocal. They’re quite the characters!
Jaws was in action nearly every day and is fattening up nicely (when I first started going to the viewing platform he was rather boney). I’ve noticed that the 2 sows seem to have shed their last year’s coats and both are nice and dark while the 2 boars still have lots of their old coat. Now we can see some of the dark hair and in time they will be dark and handsome. Too late for me, though.
Last Thursday evening while I was at the end of the platform (everyone else had moved the other direction to follow a bear) a little bat flew around and hovered nearby. It didn’t seem put off by me and another lady so when he landed on the railing to enjoy a bug I grabbed my camera. It was quite accommodating and it made for a rare treat to photograph this critter.
I left Hyder at lunchtime today (Aug. 15) and am in Smithers, on my way to Jasper. I met so many wonderfully friendly people while spending the hours at the bear viewing platform. Many have been going there for years, and others were newbies like me. Watching the bears was one common interest, with others the interest in wildlife photography gave us an added bond. Don’t know when if ever I’ll get back there but it sure would be fun!
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Viewing platform at Fish Creek
This is a section of the viewing platform above the creek where we watch the bears. It gives us quite a vantage point along the creek on one side and a quiet lagoon on the other at the end near the entrance. I’m enjoying this so much I extended my stay 2 days. Have found it works best to drive the short distance to the library and use their fast wifi to upload images, catch up on email, etc.
Late one evening the Black bear sow came down to the creek with her cub. In the evenings the mist rises and it created an interesting image. Since the Grizzlies have been around she is seldom at the creek and I’m afraid this may be my last image of her.
Another grizzly sow has started coming around, she is quite lovely with a very dark coat and seems in very good condition. I seem to get the best action shots from the boars but all are very interesting to watch.
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While in Valdez a couple of people I met suggested i go along the Denali Hwy. a bit, very scenic, etc. Since I was not pressed for time I decided to do just that so I went to Paxson and headed west on it for 21 miles to Tangle Lake BLM campground. Very different area than any other I’d seen in AK. Wide open spaces with snow capped mountains and glaciers in the distance. This first image will give you some idea of the country there. Vast spaces with very low shrubs, no trees, many small lakes (in the indents left from ice age glaciers). The campground was nice, very basic but neat and clean, dry camping in the wide open spaces. The road past the campground is gravel and goes over 100 miles west to connect to Parks Hwy (N/S) near Denali. I drove about 25 miles on the gravel and the country was the same, wide open spaces.
From there I headed south to Hyder, AK. To get there I went back to the Alaska Highway, stopping 3 times along the way for the night. The third night of the trip I was on the Cassier Hwy and stopped at Jade City (free parking lot stop), where I bought some mementoes of the trip).On the way into Stewart/Hyder I passed a couple of glaciers. Arrived in Hyder, AK, Sunday afternoon and secured a camp site for 8 nights. Hyder is well known to some because it is the site of a boardwalk along the Fish River where bear viewing is possible. Salmon are running and I am hoping to capture some special images. The boardwalk is in Tongass NF and there are rangers on hand while it is open, 6 am to 10 pm. My Sr. Pass gets me in free and I plan on making good use of it.
3 miles down the road from the site is the Run A Muck campground, it is really quite nice and very reasonable rates for full hookups (and senior discount, too).
After getting the trailer unhitched and hooked up, feeding and walking the dogs, I headed over to the viewing area and was able to see a black bear sow with her cub. She sent the cub up a tree and came back to the river’s edge to scrounge a dead fish which she then ate (after dragging another one back into the brush).
I’l be returning to the viewing area a couple of times a day for the next few days and hope to post more images soon.
Saturday evening I didn’t see any bears but there was an impressive rainbow late in the evening. Sunday was wet all day, a good day to get things accomplished.
Monday dawned bright and sunny, a great day for the cruise to Columbia Glacier.
Soon after leaving Valdez harbor we found a raft of sea otters.Then we found masses of sea lions(I have no idea what a group of sea lions is called).
Then it was on to Columbia Glacier. Fred, the Captain of the LuLuBelle, kept up a running & very informative commentary but I don’t remember the details. Suffice it to say the glacier is huge.
We got to see a good sized piece break off, however it sort of shattered as it did so. You never know when it will break off as a solid piece or shatter. The large chunks of ice in the water were reminders that it isn’t always going to shatter.
Near the glacier we came across more sea otters, this time on a piece of ice. They were uncertain about us but didn’t all dive into the water, which is where they feel safest.
I’m leaving Valdez Tuesday, not exactly sure of my route, but it will be roughly north (have to go north to get to the road south). with maybe a few stops along the way. This rv park, Bay Side has been very convenient, with E&W hookups and fast wifi I’ve been a bit spoiled. Will be back to dry camping and being more independent when I get back on the road. That is fine, along with the conveniences comes tight parking with lots of rvs, no scenic spot in the woods.
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Valdez is nestled in amongst tall mountains with snow and glaciers on them. Each direction has a magnificent view.
Last evening I went back to near the hatchery to see what I could see and the young brown bear (they seem to be called brown bears instead of grizzlies when on the coast) was fishing again.One of the sea otters was close enough for me to photograph and it was caught “red pawed” with a fisherman’s bait fish, still on the hook with the leader attached.
Went to the waterfalls and used a filter on the lens with striking effect. Will have to try it again.
Then back to the hatchery road where I saw a black bear fishing in a stream.
Some down time with the dogs now but I’ll be headed out this evening. Low tide is later each day which means the bears may be out a bit later, but who knows? Today was beautiful, sunny and warm. I may need the AC soon since I’ve gotten used to it being so much cooler mid 70s in the trailer seems way too warm.
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