Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 07/01/2015

Photo taken on June 20, 2015

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Grizzly Bear
Waterton Lakes National Park
southern Alberta
Ursus arctos horribilis
near Canada-US border
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
19 June 2015
Alberta Native Plant Council
meadow near bridge on H'way #5
wild animal
Botany Alberta 2015

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Grizzly Bear with last year's cub

Grizzly Bear with last year's cub
Definitely a very distant shot, lol, but I wanted to add it to my Waterton Lakes National Park album. We were on our way to meet other members of the Alberta Native Plant Council in the early evening of 20 June 2015, when we saw that quite a few cars had stopped on a bridge along Highway 5. Yes, we did what most people do, we pulled over and took a look, as there was most likely a bear to be seen. Well, this Grizzly and a cub from last year were barely visible in the far, far distance. Tried a shot or two and, in this one, you can actually tell what the animals are. Such a thrill, especially as I think I've only ever seen a Grizzly (and a cub from the previous year) on one other occasion - by Kananaskis Lakes in Kananaskis, and at very close quarters! Any other bears that I have seen were Black Bears. Also, this was a botany trip, so anything else seen was a bonus : ) We saw four bears in total. A Black Bear crossed the road ahead of our car in the dark on the first evening (no photo). A second Black Bear was near the trailhead for Crandell Lake Trail - was passing though the forest, gave us one quick glance, strode across the path and disappeared into the trees. Not interested in us at all. The other two bears were the two Grizzlies in this photo. Amazing to watch as they hung out in the meadow, looking for food.

I was so lucky to be invited to join friends Sandy and Heide on a three-day trip to Waterton Lakes National Park, from 19-21 (inclusive) June 2015. We met up with other members of the Alberta Native Plant Council for their annual Botany Alberta weekend. Most people who attended stayed at the Crooked Creek Campground, a 5.6 km drive east of the Waterton Park Gate on Highway 5, but my friends and I stayed at the Crandell Mountain Lodge on the edge of Waterton town. The ANPC people had a list of species that they hoped to find, and they were very successful.

Our stay down south overlapped the annual Waterton Wildflower Festival, but we came across very few people on our various drives and hikes. I was expecting everywhere to be packed. Needless to say, I was extremely fortunate to spend three days with people who are specialists and very knowledgeable about plants, and many other things. This meant that I got to see many wildflower species, including several that were new to me, such as the gorgeous Mariposa Lily. It was one of the flowers that was on my Wish List - and there were hundreds of them to be seen! I had also never seen the spectacular Bear Grass and I was so thrilled that there were still several plants in bloom. Absolutely made my day!

Our two main hikes of the weekend were the Bertha Lake Trail as far as the Bertha Falls (on 20 June), and the Crandell Lake Trail (on 21 June). Makes me smile when a described "short, easy hike" in a book or on the Internet turns into a full day of exploration along the trail, taking hours to reach the destination, though returning to the cars in a much shorter time. Our walks/hikes are very slow-paced with endless stops to look at/for plants and to take photos. This makes it possible for me to go along.

Crandell Lake from the Crandell Campground trailhead:
Return distance 4.0 km (2.4 miles), elevation gain 150 metres (492'), hiking time 1.5 hours (we took all day!).

Bertha Falls from the townsite trailhead:
Return distance 5.6 km (3.4 miles), elevation gain 150 metres (492'), hiking time 1.5 hours (again, we took all day). For me, this hike felt much further than it was!

The wind made photographing plants a real challenge, including the beautiful Mariposa Lilies in the meadow along the Hay Barn road. Trying to catch a quick shot when a flower is blowing in and out of the viewfinder is not easy! Unfortunately, I'm no longer able to get down and take macro shots (my lens needs to be about 4" away from the subject), so my photos have to be telemacro.

I've been trying to find an online list of plant species in Waterton Park, but have so far been out of luck. I do have the book, "Wildflowers of Waterton Park" by Jacinthe Lavoie and Ian Wilson, which has an Index of Plant names, but I was hoping to find a list that I could print out.

It's going to take me ages to type descriptions for the various photos I'll slowly be posting, and I will no doubt keep adding new bits and pieces over time. There is just so much information I want to add, but my descriptions are already way too long. Also, my photos of quite a few of the plants will be posted for the use of ANPC members and are, unfortunately, really poor images. Need them added to my Waterton Lakes album, so please bear with me : ) Luckily, you don't even need to look at them.