Writing-On-Stone, now an Alberta provincial park, is an especially spiritual place in Blackfoot tradition. And it was a place that we found powerful for giving us a sense of wonder and thankfulness. This is the centre of the Blackfoot ancestral territory, where they recorded their stories in petroglyphs and pictographs from very early times.
The second gallery in this post (below) reproduces some of the rock art. Some may be several thousand years old. Many certainly predate 1730, when horses and firearms were introduced to the area, and the large round shields in many of the pictures became useless and were no longer used.
There is an interesting story about one of the pictures: No one knew the age or source of a carving of what could be covered wagons. The mystery was solved when a photograph was found showing Bird Rattle, a Piegan elder, carving Model-T Fords, which represented his trip to Writing-On-Stone. For much of his life, Bird Rattle had been barred by Indian agents from visiting this place he had known in his youth.
Here are two links to more information:
Writing-On-Stone Archaeological Site
Bird Rattles Petroglyphs at Writing-On-Stone
I don’t do wildlife photography, but when an opportunity arises, I sometimes can’t resist. Pronghorn antelope are second only to the cheetah in speed. My first experience with pronghorns was years ago when a rancher I was riding with chased a herd. Despite considerable speed bumping along the short-grass prairie, the antelope easily outran the truck. It was an awesome display of speed.
Driving to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park (the subject of my next post) from Milk River, Jennifer and I stopped to look at a distant herd. After a few minutes, it was clear that something was going on. Only when I viewed my sequence of photos did I figure out what was probably happening: A young male trying to win control from another male of at least part of the herd.
Before I first set foot on the Prairies, I imagined them to be a monotonous, flat, treeless expanse. But I could not have fortold how interesting, varied and beautiful the Prairies have become in my experience.
When I can see the horizon in the incomprehensible distance, the vastness of it all stops me breathless in awe. And endless variety: in some areas flat like a still lake with shorelines beyond the horizon; in others, gently rolling like a broad swell on the ocean; croplands, rangelands, parklands, badlands (see my earlier post); glacial erratics, coulees, hills, and foothills rolling up to the Rockies. And colour! Golden wheat fields, blue sky as big as Montana’s, yellow canola fields, red and white salt pans, and (due to an unusually wet summer), fields as green as PEI’s.
Of course, my emotional response to the visual beauty of the prairies says nothing about the sustainability of its economy.
Our last hike in Waterton Lakes National Park this season was a 20 km ascent to Lineham Ridge and then to Upper Rowe Lake, climbing a total of more than 3000 feet in elevation. We ate lunch at the top of the ridge overlooking the Lineham Lakes to the north and the Rowe Lakes to the south. Both views can be seen in the panorama shot (#7 in this gallery). Then we headed back down the long scree traverse and ascended to Upper Rowe Lake – A big and beautiful day!
Carthew-Alderson is a spectacular 20 km hike in Waterton Lakes National Park. With an elevation gain of over 2000 feet, including a narrow trail across a lengthy 45% scree slope to Carthew Ridge, it is not for the faint-of-heart. But the reward at the top is an amazing 360-degree view of the Rockies, including peaks in Glacier National Park in the US.
The hike to Crypt Lake in Waterton National Park is rated one of the very best in the world. The lake is located in a hanging valley with a 500-foot waterfall spilling from it. The trailhead is reached by boat on Waterton Lake. The hike itself is 17 km return with a 2,300-foot elevation gain. The lake is reached by traversing a cliff ledge; then climbing a steel ladder; then squeezing through a small natural cave; then along another ledge with the help of a cable secured to the rock. The lake is well worth the effort, but the best part is the hike itself.
We have visited Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Lakes National Park several times now. Though easily accessible, walking on the river bed up this slot canyon is an enchanting and intimate experience, and a wonder to photograph.
Two other hikes we did was the International Peace Parks Hike along the shore of Waterton Lake to Goat Haunt in Glacier National Park in the US, and the hike to Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake. Though both were beautiful, I took few pictures. I offer four images here taken on the Bertha hike and one of the International hike.
Alberta is known for prairies and mountains, but below the prairies are coulees and river valleys. Among the most striking is the Red Deer River Valley, with many areas of badlands and hoodoos. Jennifer and I spent a couple weeks camping at Dinosaur Provincial Park and in the Drumheller area. Although best known for dinosaur fossils, the badlands are incredibly photogenic, with beautiful colours, lines and textures. When the clay surfaces dry after a rain, they shrink and crack into a “popcorn” (that’s what they call it) texture, creating a unique visual impact.