Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Wildlife in My Life
Last Friday, before I blast-off to Las Vegas for a wedding, I got to spend a glorious day in my neighboring backyard of Yoho National Park. It was a good day to get out, as every day I get out is a "bonus day". These days, every day feels like the last day of the fall season - and the feeling to get outside and enjoy it is strong, compelling and uncontrollable. The change of season is in the air and the change is overdue. I'm soaking it all up while I can.
On this day, I had what I call "A good Wildlife day." In the course of my drive to Yoho, I had the incredible good fortune of seeing a moose, a black bear and a couple of monster bull elk. The moose was like a ghost. It's massive silhouette appeared on the side of the road and I got a good glimpse of the beast before he ran across the highway and vanished into the forest. There was no sign of him, the forest just ate him up and he was gone. It was the same thing with the bear. It was a full sized, fat and healthy black bear and he ran across the road and disappeared into the woods. Gone.
My first stop was Wapta Falls, a place that I've long wanted to visit but never been. It's only 2.7 kilometres off of the highway, but in the middle of nowhere. So, I drove over 100 kilometres, to run for 5km. The falls are massive - I'm going to have to go back for a spring visit to see it really raging and I think a winter visit to see it frozen will be a real treat. I didn't see anyone else, just a couple of old wolf prints and a massive pile of bear scat. Wildlife. The every present ghosts of the forest.
Emerald Lake was the next stop, it's an easy 5km to circumnavigate the lake. It's a popular destination, but the summer crowds have vanished and I counted 6 cars in the parking lot. Three years ago to the day, I came for a run here and encountered knee deep snow up high and this moose, crashing through the woods. With my good wildlife karma, I thought my chances were good of seeing another.
Moose are not common in the Banff area, I've never actually seen one close to home. But here, in the Emerald Lake area they seem to thrive. I headed down off the trail to the shoreline of the lake whenever I could, hoping, that maybe, I might find an elusive moose.
I love to run in this place, the climate, the plant life are so unique to this area. By the lake, I had a giant dragonfly alight on the palm of my hand. It was so big, I could see myself reflected in its' eyes. It took my breath away, and we shared a secret moment. But clearly, this beautiful creature was on it's last legs - a dragonfly in the mountains in October, what a surprise.
There were plenty of signs of moose by the lake, but I never did see one. I sure had fun looking.
On this day, the lake was ever changing. It's a magical place to visit any time of year, but it's extra special in fall with the smells of winter in the air.
So, 24 hours later I found myself walking the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard. This was Wildlife, of an whole different variety.
Keith and I were there for a family wedding and we were looking forward to seeing everyone. Keith and I got dressed up, the wedding was awesome and we had a great night. But the truth is, Las Vegas is my worst nightmare. In contrast to the little bubble that I live in, Las Vegas is sensory overload. It's a loud, smoky obnoxious place. I don't shop for recreation, I don't gamble and I don't drink much these days. I have a short tolerance for crowds and noise. Las Vegas is the noisiest place I've been my whole life. It's relentless. I tried real hard to like it, but I realized that Las Vegas and I have nothing in common. This got me thinking about what I like in a holiday at this phase of my life. If you could describe what you want in a vacation in one word, what would it be? For me, it's Nature.
Thus, the pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon. WOW. Now that's a Leslie vacation. Nature. Wildlife. My Life.