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A Lesson in Wildlife Observation

Posted by on September 10, 2009
A flower from the Cascade Gardens in Banff

A flower from the Cascade Gardens in Banff

The next day, Hong and I set off for another hike…again, after his two-hour stretching session. (This may explain why I’m always sore and Hong is always ready to climb mountains.) Our destination for this hike: Banff’s Cave and Basin. The walk was very easy and took us to an area of the town we had not yet explored. Along the way, we stopped at the Cascade Gardens which, in addition to beautiful flowers, gave us a great view of downtown Banff. We walked among the fragrant petunias and the colorful daisies before continuing our journey along the river. The Cave and Basin was an interesting loop along a boardwalk with views (and sulphur smells) of the warm mineral waters. The boardwalk then took us to a marshy area that described the wildlife that we did not see.

We considered going back to the campground but instead decided our previous day’s views of the Fairmont were just not good enough. We wanted a closer look at the fine hotel. So, off we hiked.

Hong doing one of his signature poses

Hong doing one of his signature poses

We walked along the Bow River and once again, Hong could not resist the cold mountain waters. He was determined to put his feet in the river. We found a spot with a park bench and I sat while Hong loudly “whooped” his way into the river, performing strange poses along the way and capturing the stares of passing hikers. I captured the moment on camera and once his feet were numb, he came back to land and we continued on our way.

When we finally arrived at the hotel, Hong insisted that we have some tea on the patio that overlooks the river. Since it was late in the day, we called Chris and asked him to join us once he was done with work. While we waited for him, I stayed in the lobby area to do some quality people-watching, while Hong walked beyond the sign that read, “Private Function” and crashed a wedding. This didn’t bother him at all and then he made fun of me when I would not walk beyond the sign to catch a glimpse of the courtyard full of wedding attendees. Once Chris arrived, we enjoyed drinks and a snack on the patio. Now, that’s how I like to end a hike…drinks and pizza!

This is just after Hong struck his pose.  Bighorn sheep is not too happy about that.

This is just after Hong struck his pose. Bighorn sheep is not too happy about that.

We took Hong back to Lake Minnewanka that evening so he could see the bighorn sheep and take the kayaks out on the lake. It was exciting once again to see the sheep. This time, however, we were out of the car and the sheep definitely are not shy creatures. While we know we are supposed to maintain a certain distance from the animals, it was at times difficult to do so for the sheep are apparently very use to humans. At one point, a larger sheep came close to Hong while Hong had his back turned to the animals.  It was a surprise to Hong when he turned around and there was a sheep just a few feet from him. Jokingly, Chris said, “Hong, strike a pose.” Um…yeah…that wasn’t a good thing to say. Hong raised his hands above his head as though he were going to attack the sheep. A brief lesson in wildlife observation: Never EVER strike an attack pose near a bighorn sheep, or any animal for that matter. They don’t like that. The sheep quickly took his own attack stance and Hong, at that point, caught a glimpse of the sheep’s crazy eyes. Luckily, that is as far as it went. The sheep returned to eating grass and Hong quickly and quietly walked away.

Hong on his first kayak outing

Hong on his first kayak outing

Hong and Chris took the kayaks out. For Hong, this was his first time and it was the perfect lake for kayaking. The water was calm and crystal clear. Or, so I’m told. I sat on the lakeshore watching the sheep eat dirt. It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. I needed the quiet moment. Once they were back on shore, we packed up and headed back to the campground where our little British neighbor was excited to see us. She came over for a visit and she and I played Wii Golf. She won. Despite my loss to a four-year old, it was an enjoyable day and end to our week in Banff.

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