Day 7/21

A Cunning Plan

I have decided to go to Yellowstone National Park. I just can not skip it (-; It requires almost 1100 kilometers of driving but if I want to do it, this is the best time to go. Weekends tend to be much busier in the national parks. Such days can best be used for traveling.

Emerald Lake

This morning, I drive back to Emerald Lake, to see whether sunrise is worth photographing. It is not, Emerald Lake is a pure afternoon location. Next, I drive back to the place where I last photographed yesterday evening. The river has a deep blue color from the glacier material that is resolved in it and the mountains in the background are beautifully illuminated by the rising sun. I photograph here for over an hour as the light gets better and better.

Due to the major differences in light levels between de illuminated mountains and the trees in the shadow, it is impossible to shoot one photograph that contains both perfectly. This is a typical HDR situation. The photographs must be combined back home.

Vibrant red mountains during sunrise along The Kicking Horse River.

HDR impression of sunrise in spring along The Kicking Horse River near Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park in Alberta Canada.

A wide view on the river.

HDR impression of sunrise in spring along The Kicking Horse River near Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park in.

A little bit closer and a long shutter speed smooths the water so beautifully.

HDR impression of sunrise in spring along The Kicking Horse River near Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park in.

Photogenic Moraine Lake

Hereafter, I take the car to Moraine Lake. This is really the most beautiful place in these surroundings. A few days ago I did not go to this place because of the weather. Now it is really beautiful. However I really think that I should be earlier in the morning here. I am going to reserve a morning for this in the last week of the trip.

This time I shoot a 189-image panorama consisting of 3 rows, 7 columns and 9 exposures. The resulting 134 megapixel image measures 14908 x 9026 pixels and has a file size of 788 megabytes. Compare that with the native 12 megapixel images of the camera! Currently this level of detail is not visible here, but this will be in the near future.

HDR impression of Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, early morning in spring.

The Way To Yellowstone

I start the drive to Yellowstone National Park. This is a major one, but instead of looking at 1100-1000-900 kilometers I decompose it into smaller parts of 200 kilometers. Two hours of driving, one can oversee. It is not that bad. You are fooling yourself a bit this way, but it does work.

Prairie Dogs

The road south of Calgary is full with cute little animals. I think they are called prairy dogs. They seem to be a kind of rodent, but I also notice they eat their killed brothers and sisters. It is very difficult to get a good photograph of one. As long as your are driving, they stay put, almost until the moment you will hit them. As soon as you stop the car though, they are gone. Little bastards (-; A bit further I have a large bird of pray in my visor. I am fiddling a bit with the camera until suddenly a truck is approaching and the bird hits the sky. The last couple of hours I did not see a car at all and exactly at this moment…


Crossing the border is easy. I have to pay 6 dollars and have to fill in the famous green card. No difficult questions by the way, like on the airports.

In the afternoon, I spot a nicely colored train.

Trein, Montana, late middag in het voorjaar.

A quick close-up before the train continues.

Trein, Montana, late middag in het voorjaar.

On my way in Montana I am suddenly surprised by a deer walking on the road with a little one. I think this one has just been born as it is as small as a poodle and completely speckled. Both keep standing in the middle of the road watching the approaching cars. The mother decides to run into the forest. The little one keeps standing on the road until he panics because he is missing his mother. She is looking at him very anxiously from the forest and once he sees her, he runs to her. This al happens just before me on the road until 20 meters from the car. I almost had to start braking. Beautiful sight, I am getting a gooseskin because of it.

A bit further, three strange birds are crossing the road. A cute little familie so to see. I wonder what species they are. All birds start running and wait at the edge of a bushy area. As soon as I stop the car, one of them starts shouting and runs straight into the bushes with the little one. The other one, most probably the father, starts running around in all kinds of patterns. Most probably to distract me from the rest of his family. It is fine with me, this way I am able to shoot some nice photographs of him. They appear to be Canadian Cranes.

The male is distracting me from the rest of his family…

Canadian Crane, Montana, early afternoon in spring.

…sometimes kind of charging…

Canadian Crane, Montana, early afternoon in spring.

…followed by running away again.

Canadian Crane, Montana, early afternoon in spring.

A little later he is back at ease again, and I continue my trip.

Canadian Crane, Montana, early afternoon in spring.

An Old Barn in a violent Thunderstorm

Montana is called Big Sky Country. There is so much space here with beautiful skies.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

It looks like there is a thunderstorm building up there in the distance.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

A bit further, the sky darkens dramatically.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

The storm is building up momentum rapidly.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

The sky keeps getting darker and darker…

Montana sky, evening in spring.

…until I am completely surrounded by dark clouds.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

I have to find a nice foreground subject quickly before the storm really starts. Magically one turns up at exactly the right moment, an old barn. I get out of the car to shoot some photographs. I have to be very fast because the cloud is already overhead and it starts flashing around me. The thunderstorm can explode any moment now. I quickly shoot a few frames and run back to the car. The moment I close the door, the sky unleashes its water.

Montana sky, evening in spring.

The thunderstorm is quite violent with lots of wind and rain and it is flashing everywhere around me. The sky gets much darker later on turns into night fall gradually. As I enter Livingston, only one hour driving from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, rain is still pooring heavily and eye-sight is minimal. I quickly find a hotel for the night.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton

The last few hours I have had really heavy weather and the sky is still very dark. More thunderstorms are expected for tomorrow, so there is good chance on colorful skies. Weather forecast is good for the rest of the week. I reserve at least 4-5 days for Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Then I will drive back north, to spend a couple of days in Glacier National Park (United States). Finally I will end up in Canada for a few days until the end of this trip.

A Changing Landscape

Today I have almost 1100 kilometers and it is fun to see how the landscape changes. First I was in the middle of the mountains in Canada, followed by green hills. In Montana, first there were the big flat plains and later nice green hills with beautiful forests.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Canada Spring 2010, Day 7

Download the original gpx file here.