Curiosity takes me to Highwood Pass
Dad, I think you were with me in spirit on Monday, which is why I saw the loon. I had just turned onto the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail highway and stopped at Spillway Lake. The setting sun painted the ripples pink, blue and green, and the mountains in the background were in stark contrast to the dark spruce trees rimming the lake. Mom was feeding one of the chicks; the other got upset and flapped its tiny wings, rising up in the water.
They had a bit of a tussle too – this goes out to my sister as we used to do a bit of this; Happy Birthday!!
Backing up a bit, my adventure started with a drive down the Cowboy Trail, through Turner Valley and Black Diamond to Longview. If I didn’t have my dog with me, I would have stopped at Coyote Moon Cantina in Turner Valley for lunch and the Longview Jerky Shop for a snack to take on my drive. Alas, another time.
I have only been on this route once and it was years ago. I drove slowly as I was hoping to see some wildlife and just enjoy the scenery. A coyote darted across the highway with supper in its mouth. Sadly, by the time I stopped and grabbed my camera, it had disappeared into the woods. Further up the road I heard, and then saw a number of ground squirrels. Leaving the window open, they serenaded me as I drove.
Right to the grizzly! This one looked very lean and was panting in the heat. It loped along the highway for quite a distance, crossed over, and I hope found the cool river through the woods. What a treat to see a second grizzly in a few weeks, but a sharp reminder about hiking in the area. Highway 40 at the Highwood Pass is the highest paved road in Canada (2,200 metres). It is closed from December to June 15th as it is a major wildlife corridor. No kidding! The Highwood Pass is apparently one of the best places to see grizzlies.
There was very little traffic, so I was able to pull over when I wanted and checkout the rest stops along the way, taking my bear spray with me and not going too far from the van. I wanted to make it to Spray Lakes for sunset and had to speed up a bit after spending at least an hour watching the loons. Small note, the Smith-Dorrien highway is a gravel road, so be prepared for dust and lots of vibrations on the washboard surface.
One other person had stopped by the lake for sunset shots. He was visiting from Seattle and thought the area was incredibly beautiful – I would have to agree! We spent at least 45 minutes soaking up the changing colours and the peace of the birds singing and the occasional fish jumping.
I got home close to 1 am, but it was so worth it!
Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery. ~ John Ruskin