July 28, 2017 by Distracted in Alberta
To be honest with you this was not supposed to be a “day trip” to Jasper National Park mainly because my town to the park gates at Jasper National Park are about 237 kilometres or about 2 hours 43 minutes garage to gate. The night before I began packing my 60L Boreas Lost Coast ultralight backpack with the essential solo camping trip requirements: backcountry headlamp, cooking stove, fuel, utensils, water tablets, hiking pants, rain jacket, long sleeve base layer, extra pair of ankle socks, Hennessy Expedition Hammock, Hex rain fly, Therm-a-rest hammock insulation sack, Big Agnes Holsted sleeping bag, dry ration pouches, peanut butter crunch Clif Bars, survival kit, spare 1000ml Nalgene bottle and Source 2000ml hydration system. The plan was to head out to Jasper, locate a hiking trail, take off for a couple of hours of hiking to find a camp site for one, set up camp and have an overnighter in Jasper National Park.
As it turns out, the trailhead I was looking for while driving around in the Ford F150, was truly unattainable because I miss read the Backroad Mapbook. One must remember that pulling off the road to read the mapbook will increase one’s chance of locating the correct roadway which leads to the trailhead.
Instead of pulling off the road to read the mapbook, I repeatedly stopped to check out the scenery and capture some amazing landscape photographs of the Eastern slopes of Jasper National Park like the Fiddle Mountain Range and Roche à Perdrix.
- 2,135 m
- Mountain range:
- Fiddle Range
- 168 m
Distracted by my own adventure within Jasper National Park, I decided to double back and locate a different trailhead near Brûlé Lake. However fifteen minutes of driving down a dirty, dusty, sandy, rutted washboard road and I fled back to Highway 16. Driving East, I came across Route 40 South. I had heard good things about a small town called Cadomin about 60-kilomtres away. And as I approached the roadway, I popped on the signal light and turned south.
After three or four side trips up and around backcountry roads, I made it to the outskirts of the Cardinal River Coal Mine when I noticed the minivan up head depress his brakes and slow to a crawl then all of a sudden dart off. At the time, I was too far back to notice the “what” had made the minivan slow down at such a crazy pace and soon I would see it too. Four young Big Horn Sheep hanging out in the ditch, feeding on tall grass. I slowed to a halt the only thing between us a 2-foot guardrail. Rolling down the window, I stuck my camera out and took a couple of photographs.
As the young sheep grazed on their dinner of greens and wildflowers, I carefully studied their movements, eyes, ears and front limbs. There are stories of these guys head butting vehicles, breaking windows and even getting stuck inside vehicles with their windows down.
Eventually, this guy stopped eating (probably because some guy in a white truck had not buggered off yet) as his head popped up, so did the other three only 10-feet away. He gazed at them and without a word walked to the front of my truck and jumped into the road. Now I felt bad, because these 4-youthful Big Horn Sheep were standing in a roadway. Its a very light traffic area, but still, you don’t want to be the cause of a roadkill situation.
Firmly, I spoke to the 4-sheep, pleading that they get out of the roadway before the next vehicle arrives. While they contemplated my negotiation skills, something further up the hill caught my eye. Looking up, I spotted a BIGGER, Big Horn Sheep with nearly a full curl. As I watched him on the hill, something else caught my eye to the right and further up. Scanning the hill, I spotted, one, two, three, six, nine, fifteen, twenty-three more! WOW! What are they all doing here? I wondered. Well, of course, they were all eating dinner. But I meant more like, “why are they not up there in the mountains?”
Sitting in my truck, I scanned the entire slope and counted about 40 sheep. I smiled deeply inside. Picked up my camera and tripod then exited the vehicle. I spent the next 39 minutes watching the entire hill be eaten for dinner by a hungry pack of Big Horn Sheep. And I there spectator. Watching with a careful eye, as not to spook any of them. I took photo after photo and a couple of videos too. Its then that I realized they didn’t care that I stood watching, they didn’t mind my photographs nor my videography. They just stood observing me, as I stood down hill watching them.
I never did find that trail head but I did locate twelve exceptionally awe-inspiring areas around the Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park area, the hamlet of Cadmic and a little town call Robb.