O Canada 11 : Look, a bear!   Leave a comment


We continued our trip, after our visit to Emerald Lake (see the previous article in this series, click here). Our next goal was Johnston Canyon, near Banff, our final stop on our road trip through the southwestern part of Canada.  As we drove along, we started reminiscing on all the things we had seen on our trip. The landscapes, places we visited and the wildlife we encountered. Squirrels, loads of birds, and a snake. But no bears. We came across a lot of people with bells or electronical devices to deter them, but no bears.
As we were talking  I noticed a traffic jam ahead of us. Brake lights flashing, traffic slowing down, cars parked on the hard shoulder, people running across the highway. I  slowed down, and then I saw what was causing all the commotion, a black bear walking on a clearing near the highway! I parked the car on the road side, grabbed our cameras and ran to the fence.
The bear seemed totally oblivious of our presence. It just waggled along, sniffing the ground and doing what bears do. Although we were behind a fence, it was an exciting site. A real bear, on the last day of our trip. What a great ending.
After a while the bear walked of into the woods. We got back to our car and continued our trip to Banff. As we rode into town, we spotted two moose!  Another iconic Canadian animal.

Johnston Canyon is a popular destination for visitors. The 2,6 km long walk to the upper fall isn’t to difficult. The trail itself is wonderful. As you go deeper and deeper into the gorge, the path changes into a wooden catwalk hanging from the rocks above the fast flowing torrent. The trail ended in a cirque, a 30m high circular rock wall: the Upper Falls. A small waterfall, compared to Wapta Falls, but still impressive. It was a nice ending to our road trip.

Back on the road I spotted another black bear, rummaging through the remains of a forest fire. What a great way to end our visit to Alberta and British Columbia.

Read more on Johnston Canyon : click here

Fort Sabina, Willemstad (NL)


Een kort bezoek aan Fort Sabina, vlak bij Willemstad (NL). Het fort was helaas gesloten, maar we konden wel een bezoekje brengen aan de vervallen magazijngebouwen, op de dijk bij het fort. Het gebouw zag er van voor nog wel aardig uit. Maar toen we dichterbij kwamen zagen we de beschadigde muren en raampartijen.
Er stond een hek om het pand, maar daar konden we vrij makkelijk door. Voorzichtig liepen we langs een muur met geblindeerde ramen. Ineens zagen we een grote uil uit gat bij één van de ramen tevoorschijn komen. De uil schrok net zo van ons als wij van hem. We stonden maar op een meter afstand van de verbaasde vogel. Roodbruin, met witte kop. Hij keek even met grote ogen naar ons, spreidde zijn vleugels en vloog geluidloos weg. Helaas geen foto kunnen maken, want het ging allemaal zo snel.
Het verval van het gebouw was op zichzelf ook mooi om te zien. Afgebladerde verf, ingestorte muren, bomen door het dak. Het was een prachtige ontdekking.

Posted 27 februari 2019 by Jan Morsch in Bijzondere plekken, Foto's

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O Canada 10 : Field and Emerald Lake   Leave a comment


From the overwhelming Wapta Falls (see previous article is this series, click here) we went to Field. A small town on the banks of the Kicking Horse River and the Trans-Canada Highway. It is surrounded by forests and mountains, with the impressive Mount Stephen towering high over the town. An ideal place for hiking or skiing trips in Yoho National Park. Unfortunately we arrived in between seasons, so most hotels, shops and restaurants were closed or had reduced opening hours. The one restaurant in town that was open, Truffle Pigs Bistro, served some pretty fine food, and we found a place to stay in the Fireweed hostel.

After a good night sleep, and a nourishing breakfast, we tried to leave Field. But the only road out was blocked by a freight train. Field is a place where train drivers on the Canadian Pacific Railway change shifts. The train stops, the old crew goes off, a new one climbs on board, starts up the engines and gets the train rolling again. These freight trains are enormously long. We waited for at least 10 minutes before we saw the last carriage pass.
Our first destination of the day was the Yoho National Park information Center, just outside Field. We hoped to buy something edible there, since there were no shops open in the town. But the center only sold books and souvenirs. I noticed they had a lot of books on bears on display. Might this be an omen for the rest of the day?
Our next stop was Emerald Lake. We arrived at the parking lot, and walked towards the lake. It was busy with Japanese tourist leaving the lodges and hotels on the shores, but as soon as we left the last building behind us, we walked in silence and solitude through the woods. Some parts of the path were still covered in snow, but the lake wasn’t frozen over, like Lake Louise on the first day of our trip (read article here). Emerald Lake wasn’t as green as its name did suggest. The ripple-less water was dark, black, and only reflected the forest on it’s shore. As we walked on, the forest thinned out, and as by magic the colour of the lake changed to live up to its name. Emerald green indeed! It was a beautiful sight. The clear blue sky and the snow covered mountains mirrored in the surface of the lake. On the far side of the lake the landscape changed from forest to a more open terrain. A brook ran into the lake, and we saw all kinds of birds and flowers.
Emerald Lake is a beautiful place, and the tour around the lake is highly recommended. Go early, before the tourists swarm the paths and canoes spoil the view on the lake.
We also visited the Natural Bridge, on the road up to the lake. Here, the river carved out some sort of tunnel in the rocks. It was nice to watch, but not very spectacular. A good spot for a pick nick or a photo opp, but that’s about it. After this short interlude we drove on towards Calgary. But first, some more adventures and encounters with Canadian wild life…

More information on Field, click Here

More information on Emerald Lake, click here

O Canada 9 : Wapta Falls   1 comment


Our next stop on our road trip through Western Canada was at Wapta Falls, in Yoho National Park. A long gravel road took us from the highway to a parking place, and we continued on foot. The bear proof garbage bins were a warning sign that we where in serious wild country. A long trail led us into the woods. The large pine trees drowned out most of the noise, so we walked in silence towards our goal. When we approached a small wooden bridge, we noticed a squirrel on the ground, nibbling on some pine cones. The little grey rodent seemed completely undisturbed by our presence, so we took some time to take some pictures of it eating away, until we came a little bit to close, and the squirrel hopped elegantly away into the safety of the woods.
Continuing on our trail, we could hear the raging waters of the Kicking Horse River. From an opening in the canopy we could see the white water seeking it’s way between the rocks. The falls couldn’t be far now. A descending path took us to the icy cold river. From the banks we had impressive views on the cascade and the surrounding forest. The falls are huge : about 30 meters high and 150 m wide. We scurried over rocks and boulders, closer to the bottom of the fall, sheltered by a large rock formation. To get a better view of the falls, we scrambled onto the rocks, and climbed to the highest point. Immediately the scene changed. Now we could see, hear and feel the falls at it’s best. It was impressive. The noise was deafening. We couldn’t hear each other speak. Water sprayed over us, so we had to put on our raincoats. Wafts of mist surrounded us, as we stood in awe of this force of nature. After taking some pictures, we found our way back to the river and the path that led us here, back to the parking lot.
Halfway on the track, I heard something rustling in the undergrowth. I saw nothing, but the noise made me curious. I crouched down and stepped carefully and as quiet as I could in the direction of the noise. Again I heard it. And then I saw something moving on the forest floor. Something black, the size of a chicken. A chicken!? I was slightly disappointed. But then I realized that it was highly unlike for a chicken to be in a forest. So I crept a bit closer. Suddenly I saw a black pheasant-like bird walking on the forest floor. Like a true wildlife photographer I
hid behind some bushes, took out my zoom lens and took as many pictures as I could from this bird. (Later I found out it was a Spruce Grouse).
After this interessing and impressive interlude, we continued our way, to the last stop on our road trip : Field.

Google Maps : click here

More information on The Wapta Falls, click here
or here
More information on Yoho National Park, click here

More information on the Spruce Grouse, click here

Lentevreugd, kalfjes, veulens en viooltjes   Leave a comment


Het was een stralende dag. We konden het voorjaar bijna voelen, als er niet zo’n koude wind had gestaan. Toch besloten we de wandelschoenen aan te trekken en een kort tochtje te maken in een Staatsbosbeheerterreintje bij Wassenaar. Het heet – hoe toepasselijk – Lentevreugd. Voormalig bollenland, dat na enig menselijk ingrijpen, wat geaccentueerder is geworden. In het verder open veld zijn een paar duinbeekjes (rellen) gegraven en wat heuveltjes aangelegd. Daardoor is het nu een vrij nat terrein geworden, zeker na de overvloedige regen van de afgelopen dagen, op de overgang van duin naar weide. Om te vooorkomen dat het gebied dichtgroeid, grazen er hooglanders en konikspaarden. Tussen de dieren zagen we een paar veulentjes huppelen, en een wollig kalfje lag vlak bij zijn moeder te herkauwen. Tegen de buitenrand van het gebied zagen we een restje van de Atlantikwall : grote betonnen haaientanden op de top van een duin. Een tankversperring, maar vanwaar wij stonden leek het meer op de kantelen van een middeleeuws kasteel.
Op de terugweg zagen we ineens paarse viooltjes tussen het neergeslagen gras. Een overblijfsel van de bollenteelt? Wie zal het zeggen. Het was een mooie afsluiting van een mooie lentewandeling.

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