How It Started
Drives with photography friends are the best! Nobody rolls their eyes at ‘just one more stop’ or ‘OMG, you have to stop here. Driver and passenger are always in sync with desire, often spotting different aspects of the same scene. Brandie (one of the most creative and talented photographers I know) and I headed up towards the Ya Ha Tinda on another photo quest – whether it be sweeping landscapes, flower macros, wild horses or whatever Mother Nature threw at us. We just needed to breathe – lockdowns and lack of work were getting to us both. Besides, we always have the best conversations when together!
Wild Flowers, Not Wild Horses
Wild horses were elusive this time. With July temps of +36C/97F, I’m sure they were sheltering in whatever shade they could find. Wildflowers, however, were abundant. Delicate Harebells and Buttercups dancing in the grass, intertwined with sweet wild clover. Clean white Yarrow – often used by our First Nations on cuts and open wounds, as a tonic, and treatment for stomach ailments. Pretty Purple Smooth American Asters, and the sunny, cheerful Blanket Flowers. So many more…
Up the Mountain We Go
Numerous stops, and a late start, meant we were approaching the hour and a half before sunset. Veering off onto a promising logging track named Wild Horse Road had us hoping it was a sign. Passing storms in the distance gave us soft greys over layers of mountains. We’d heard a couple of lazy rumbles of thunder across the valley.
Soft golden light filtered across the valley as we climbed. There was a hint of forest fire smoke in the air. Air still, as only high summer heat can bring. The hum of bees and the chattering of chipmunks were all we could hear around us. ‘Stop and smell the flowers’ was the lesson taught by this little guy. The whole family was adorable!
Rounding another rutted corner, a field of Indian Paintbrush blazed in a riot of colour. I’d never seen so many different shades in one place.
We reached the uppermost plateau where my SUV finally met it’s limits – quad tracks were not for us. By then the sky had turned this amazing amber. Skeletal remains from an old forest fire was enhanced by lush greens of new growth.
One last burst of sun rays completed the magical experience as the sun set. That was where the Hazy Days of Summer was captured.
The Adventures Weren’t Over!
As we descended the mountain, we came across a truck and trailer jack-knifed across the road, and high centred on a log, leaving us with no way out. We quickly rendered offers of assistance which were quite rudely declined. (There was a serious ‘mere women’ implication as we were soon to find out.) We did find suitable stones and log offcuts to help him gain traction when off the stump, but were quite content to stand by and watch his efforts with a chainsaw and flip flops.
I was able to comfort his mom who was a genuinely nice person, super apologetic for the inconvenience. Her son was much happier when the gentleman from the logging company came down and offered the same assistance. But he also had his own chainsaw. (May have to add that to my list of emergency essentials – especially as I’ve always wanted one of my own!) Eventually we got by. Thoughts of satellite phones/transponders as a possible future acquisition were in my head as we were quite late, and completely out of cell phone range.
And There They Were!
Despite our hurry to get to a point with cell reception to let our families know we hadn’t driven off a cliff, or been eaten by a bear, we made a quick stop to catch the soft pink light on the river.
Back on track, with the last of the light waning away, we spotted wild horses. That precipitated one more skidding stop. Gratitude for pro gear in low light, and the observation that hopefully our families were holding to the mantra of ‘no news is good news’ we captured a few contentedly grazing beauties and carried on.
One blip of cell service around 10pm had us assuring everyone we were still alive. We didn’t anticipate the field fog we encountered as we headed towards Sundre . Speed was reduced to 20kph as we could see above it, but not the road through it. Our near midnight arrival home was celebrated with high fives at what an awesome day it had been, and the promise of other escapades together!
For More Info…
All my images are available for purchase. Some of the ones you see here will make it over onto the Fine Art page of my website, but if they don’t and you see one you like, please reach out. What is art to one, may not be recognized as such by another. Or may not have made it up there at time of posting!