A Few More Scenes from Banff and Jasper

Mt Athabasca
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

I shared some scenes from our trip to Canada last July. Today, I am going to share a few more. These are mountain peaks along the Icefields Parkway.

I included two images of something out of the ordinary for me. I am a closet lover of railroads and trains. Kicking Horse Pass crosses the Big Hill west of Banff, AB in Canada. It sets on the Continental Divide and on the Alberta/British Columbia border. When British Columbia joined Canada, a railroad was built across British Columbia. Crossing the Rocky Mountains presented a significant obstacle. The best solution at that time was to send the railway up Big Hill and over Kicking Horse pass. But that meant ascending and descending 1,070 feet on 4 ½% grade; i.e. for every 100 feet of horizontal distance the hill rose/fell 4 ½ feet. The doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. Pay attention to the grade signs on highways when you drive. When in use, there were many accidents on this hill. The Canadian government eventually contracted to build the “Spiraling Tunnels”. The Spiraling Tunnels is a set of 2 tunnels and connecting roadbeds under the mountains to make the ascent and descent more gradual[i]. The images I have included shows a train entering one of the tunnels and later as the locomotive exits the tunnel while part of its train is still entering.


[i] Info from Kicking Horse National Historic Site, https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/yoho/culture/kickinghorse/visit/spirale-spiral

Note: Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Mount Thompson and Bow Peak
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Mistaya Mountain
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
View from Icefields Parkway
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
View from Icefields Parkway – P2
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Train Entering “Spiraling Tunnels”
Spiraling Tunnels, Kicking Horse Pass, British Columbia, Canada; MAY 2019 Train Entering “Spiraling Tunnels”


Nose of Locomotive Emerging from “Spiriling Tunnels” While Remainder of Train is Entering.; Spiraling Tunnels, Kicking Horse Pass, British Columbia, Canada; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us

Some Birds Photographed This Summer

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) AKA Whiskey Jack
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

I’ve been traveling a lot this year. In my travels, I have seen and photographed many interesting birds. I just haven’t made the time to share them. Here are a few of them. Others will follow.

First up is the Gray Jay. It is a corvid like other jays but is smaller and has a much less raucous voice. In November 2016 the BBC reported that Canada adopted this bird, also known as the Whiskey Jack, as its national bird.

The other Jay in this collection is Woodhouse’s Jay. Those of us in the west don’t see Blue Jays; they are eastern birds. Mostly, we see the scrub jay.  At one time, the Scrub Jay was just called the Western Scrub Jay. But recently, it was split into 3 separate species: the California Scrub Jay which we see here west of the Sierra Nevada mountains; the Island Scrub Jay which is only found in the Santa Cruz Islands, and Woodhouse’s Jay which is seen between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Rocky mountains and from Southeastern Oregon into Mexico.

I found the Horned Lark and the Black-throated Sparrow at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Ash Meadows is an oasis, a marshland in the Mojave Desert that is fed from springs that draw from an ancient aquifer. You’ll find it in Amargosa Valley, NV . It is a great place to visit, in the early morning.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a common bird in much of the western US. It thrives in marshes among the reeds and cattails.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Woodhouse’s Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park; AUG 2019
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Amargosa Valley, NV; JUL 2019
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Amargosa Valley, NV; JUL 2019
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Mather Park, Sacramento, CA; JUN 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Banff: Glaciers, Lakes and Glacial Streams

Ten Peaks from the Road to Moraine Lake;
Moraine Lake; Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

Canada’s Banff National Park is filled with stunning mountain peaks capped with glaciers and snow. The steep, rugged mountains are the source of beautiful, turquoise streams that feed alpine lakes.

The turquoise water is interesting. As glaciers move, they polish the underlying rock, producing very fine particles of dust called rock flour. The rock flour mixes with the water traveling downstream. The color is a result of light reflecting around the densely packed dust in the water.  On bright days, with the sun in the right position, the river displays the brilliant turquoise. If the sky is more cloudy, the water will be a milky off-white. When it reaches the lakes, the rock flour eventually settles out. But, if the river is filling the lake quickly, the lakes can be turquoise also.

The mountainside on this image from Kootenay National Park is beautifully colored. But the coloring is deceptive. The rust color is dead conifers. The black is foliage that was consumed by fire. Many of the conifers died due to pine beetle infestation.

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution!

Kootenay RIver and Mount Harkin;
Kootneay National Park, British Columbia, Canada,; MAY 2019

Color born of tragedy: The rusty red color are evergreens damaged by the mountain pine beetle; the black is fire damage.
Bow Lake and Crowfoot, Bow Crow and Bow Peaks;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Moraine Lake;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Mistaya Canyon;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Bow Lake and Crowfoot Peak;
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019
Herbert Lake; Banff National Park,
Alberta, Canada; MAY 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us