Photos and Videos: Alberta’s Glenbow Ranch and Big Hill Springs Provincial Parks, and a Grizzly in Kananaskis Country
Calgarians, if you haven’t been to Cochrane please drive the short 40 km distance to the town that has so much to offer in terms of specialty stores and coffee shops, where you also get freshly prepared sandwiches and baked items. The town is also renowned for its historic 74 year old iconic Mackay’s Ice Cream store where there are very long line ups on hot summer days. My main reason for stopping in Cochrane was to have a quick bite, before visiting two nearby parks, the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. The chicken gumbo soup and a very tasty turkey sandwich at Guy’s Cafe and Bakery gave me the energy I needed to walk the trails in the parks. I began with Glenbow Ranch. After doing a couple of short trails, I spent quiet and reflective moments at a picnic bench where Dr. Dudley Morris had built a large home in 1914 — nothing now remains of the place but chimneys. The site of beautiful birds perched on top of dead trees enthralled me. In the sky, I saw some larger birds, and may be a bald headed eagle. The shaded bench allowed me to spend almost 2 full hours at the site in contemplation and reflection.
GLENBOW RANCH PROVINCIAL PARK
BIG HILL SPRINGS PROVINCIAL PARK
On my first visit to Cochrane, there was not enough time available to visit Big Hill Springs Provincial Park after spending 3 relaxing hours at the Glenmore Provincial Park
I went to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park 2 days later. It has two main trails. On the South Trail — with less climbing but plenty of beautiful small scenic water falls and streams — I met a couple of very respectful and friendly gentlemen, Bob Blaxley and Douglas Beckstead, who was carrying an attention grabbing walking stick which was made out of the diamond willow wood. It was as light as a feather and Doug had received it as a gift some 20 years ago! I took their photos for this post, and when I mentioned I had two other blogs, Barakah and Simerg, they told me they were acquainted with His Highness the Aga Khan, and also were aware that the much admired former Calgary Mayor, Nahid Nenshi, was a follower of the 49th Ismaili Imam, as I am. They suggested that I take the North Trail to get a view of the valley as well as see beautiful flowers, and gave me a wonderful handshake as I left them.
An hour later, just as I returned to the car, a torrential downpour began. As soon as it had stopped, I spontaneously decided to go to Kananaskis Country to drive through Hwy 40. It was just the day before my birthday, and there was a present I really wanted.
KANANASKIS COUNTRY, MAIN CORRIDOR, HIGHWAY 40
I first stopped at Kananaskis Village and quickly visited its 5 viewing points. Along the path I spotted a beautiful deer. The plaques on the memorial benches at the viewing points were inspiring. Before living the historic resort, I had a Montreal Reuben sandwich at one of its cafes. I then continued southbound on Hwy 40. My hope was to see a bear in full view and glory. Yes, that would be my birthday present.
I reached Highwood Pass, the highest paved road in Canada at 2206 metres (7239 feet), where there is a large parking lot with some dense forest around. It looks enticing enough for bears to come by. Sometime back, when I had visited the same area, there had been bear activity and the trails that start at the parking area were closed. I rested my eyes for about 45 minutes, with my car seat fully reclined. With no bear knocking on my car window, I decided to drive back to Calgary. The sky was not friendly but beautiful rainbows had formed over some of the mountains, as the day had been mixed with rain and sunshine.
….AND THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT FROM THE BEAR — BEING BY THE ROAD!
On my way back and shortly after passing the very scenic King Creek Ridge — a must stop off Hwy 40, across from the entrance to the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park — an SUV coming from the opposite direction flashed the high beam. I was well under the 90 kph speed limit so that didn’t bother me, but then I soon realized why he had flashed. Just 500 metres at the right side of the road was a bear strolling and stopping every few metres to munch on leaves and digging up food on soft patches of wet ground.
I was by myself, and just hoped that a ranger would not stop and request me to leave. For 20 full minutes, I had my best moments with the bear. I was able to see the bear, and took very clear photos and videos of the animal. The inspired bear had sensed my wish and was there to wish me a happy birthday. I then drove back to Calgary, taking with me beautiful and inspiring memories of a truly great day.
Alas, on my birthday, August 5, my experience at the Nando’s restaurant in Calgary was disappointing. I would normally bring that to the attention of the manager, but the happiness and contentment from the previous day carried me through; I decided to remain calm and content with whatever was brought to me on the table and left without a murmur! Bye bye to Calgary’s Nando’s….and to Kananaskis I say….I promise to return!
2 Short Videos: Grizzly Bear
Date posted: August 6, 2022.
Last updated: August 8, 2022 (more photos added of Glenmore Provincial and Big Hill Springs Provincial Parks, typos)
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