I Backpack Canada » Wildlife http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Sat, 16 Aug 2014 19:43:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Safari in Saskatchewan at Grasslands National Park http://ibackpackcanada.com/safari-saskatchewan-grasslands-national-park/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/safari-saskatchewan-grasslands-national-park/#comments Fri, 16 Aug 2013 14:46:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5591 Safari in Saskatchewan at Grasslands National Park is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Finding wildlife in Saskatchewan isn’t particularly hard; however, one will note that cattle and horses often spot the prairie fields and pasture land more often than those more wild. Finding eagles, osprey, bison, moose, bears, and coyotes sometimes takes hours upon hours of driving, and usually quite a bit of luck. For the animal enthusiast, it can be slightly disheartening. Given the size of Saskatchewan (651,900 km²), it’s to be expected. With that being said, there is a clever way to guarantee seeing some unique wildlife.

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Grasslands National Park

Grasslands National Park is a Saskatchewan staple. While it does require some driving (it is Saskatchewan after all), it does mean you have a much higher chance of seeing something photo worthy. Four and a half hours south west of Regina, a stones throw from Montana, USA, Grasslands National Park is one of the truest forms of prairie landscape. This preservation is not only home to some beautifully unique flora, it’s also home to countless species of birds, wild bison, rattlesnakes, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, short-horned lizards, black footed ferrets, and many more.

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Untouched Prairie Beauty

The drive south from Regina will lead you through some of the flattest lands, which evolve into gentle rolling hills, only to be suddenly changed into a grass valley carved out by ancient glaciers. Dry cliffs and rocky buttes poke out from the landscape, creating a beautiful view that many would describe as “non-saskatchewan”. What many people often forget is that before large scale agriculture was introduced to Saskatchewan in the late 1800′s, much of the Saskatchewan landscape was exactly what you see at Grasslands National Park. Raw, untouched prairie beauty. A topography that evolved hand in hand with the flora and fauna of the region.

Frenchman River

A Hiker’s Paradise

During the day, there are countless hikes for every skill level, from quick jaunts, such as the Rock Creek Trail (2km loop) to the more skilled trails, such as the Butte Creek / Red Buttes Trail (16km loop), or the Zahursky Point Route (11km loop). There’s also countless square kilometers of back country hiking for those interested on exploring the park without trails. Each hike offers a different view of this beautiful locale. From stretching landscapes of the badlands of Saskatchewan, to creek crossings and surreal views of the Frenchman River.

Pro Tip

For more information on Hiking Trails at Cypress Hills, grab a copy of the Grasslands National Park Visitors Guide at Parks Canada.

Saskatchewan’s Darkest Dark Sky Preserve

Come nightfall, you’ll be in for one of the starriest nights of your life (clear skies depending of course). The Grasslands National Park is the Darkest Dark Sky Preserve in Canada. For astronomers & amateur stargazers, this is one of the best places to be on a clear night. The recently announced Dark Sky Preserve is not only good for bringing in additional tourists, it’s also good for the habitat of nocturnal species, such as the black footed ferret, which was recently re-introduced into the area.

Grasslands Macro

Snakes, Safety, and Friendly Park Staff

My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of camping in the Park a few weeks back. Park staff at Val Marie were immensely knowledgable and friendly, and ran through all the safety procedures before setting out to hike the Grassland trails. It’s made very clear once you’re this far south in Saskatchewan that you’re in rattlesnake country. My girlfriend, having never entered a land dominated by poisonous reptiles morbidly laughed, “Great, so this is the way I’m going to die!“. The Parks Canada staff laughed and reassured her that it’s fairly rare to come across them, and even if you do, giving the snakes their distance will ensure everyone leaves safe.

The Park Staff even went so far as to offer her snake garders, which are basically thick reinforced fabric leggings which they claim will protect you if one of the slithering fellows decide to strike. The Visitor Center at Val Marie offers anyone who’s going to be doing a lot of hiking the garders, but they’re strictly optional. We decided not to take the leggings, being risk takers & all.

Wild Plains Bison

Wild Plains Bison

After leaving the Parks Canada Visitor in Val Marie, we were fully supplied with maps, visitors guides, and a couple of safety brochures. We drove into the park, and without even trying, came across our first group of wild plains bison. Technically, it was just a pair; however, they seemed content to claim their part of the gravel road as their own. Our car approached them slowly, we both nervously laughed, “I hope they don’t charge the car“. Fortunately, they didn’t. Rather, they moved as slow as possible out of the way. During which time we managed to get a few photos. We high-fived over the first encounter. Success! 

History of the Bison in the Area

Back in December 2005 the Plains Bison were re-introduced to the park. Prior to European Settlement, Bison dominated this region. With millions upon millions of herds stampeding across the country. A significant animal in first nations history, it was one of the first to be effected by European Settlement. By the 1880′s, most of the Bison were gone, due to over hunting, and due to their natural habitat being transformed into agricultural land. What was once 71 re-introduced bison, have now become over 300 bison and 40 calves. Without a doubt, one of the most majestic creatures you can find in Saskatchewan. For more information on the Plains Bison, check out Parks Canada’s Bison Updates.

Camping Grasslands National Park - Tent Sunset

Camping in Grasslands National Park

We setup camp just before sunset in a small campground with a handful of lots. Located a kilometer or so from the Frenchman River, we opted to save the hiking for the next day. We were the only ones camping that weekend, and an eerie soundscape of prairie noises calmly sang to us. Waving grass, crickets, gentle blowing wind, soothed the often stressful time known as tent setup. Looking out from our campsite, a 360 degree view of grasslands and rolling hills surrounded us. Parks Canada had setup an in-ground binocular set to allow the viewing of animals slightly further than the eye could make out. In one spin of the metallic eyepiece, I spotted bison, antelope, and a group of kayakers who recently packed up from the Frenchman River.

Antelope Grasslands

Pro Tip: Ask Park Staff About Fire Regulations

Due to the dry nature of the grasslands, there is typically a fire ban in the area. Propane camping stoves are allowed, but open fire’s are not. Park’s Canada will advise you to be as careful as humanly possible. A handful of years back a large part of the park burned away due to fire, and they’d really like to prevent that from happening again.

Sunset Grasslands

Sun Setting Over Grasslands

As the sun dropped below the horizon, it’s remaining light shone through purple, pink, and orange clouds, covering the park in a warm orange glow. Our mosquito net was propped up, keeping the blood suckers out while we waited for stars to come out. Within an hour, the twilight exploded in a vivid starscape. The milky way spread across the sky. The grasslands began to erupt in activity. Panning my head, I noticed how completely alone we were in the park. There wasn’t a single light to be found. A band of coyotes began howling from the north east, not more than a handful of kilometers away. Their dog like calls echoed through the valley. Then like clockwork, another band of coyotes from the north west, joined in, howling for comfort, for territory, or just because it was a nice night out.

Prairie Dogs

Saskatchewan Prairie Dogs

Day finally broke, and we drove to the Prairie Dog sanctuary. These cute little critters are often seen as enemies by farmers, due to their innate ability to turn a perfectly healthy field into a labyrinth of holes. With agriculture dominating Saskatchewan, there aren’t many places they can safely call home; however, in Grasslands National Park, they seem to have found a corner (or two) to call their own. As we pulled the car over and stepped out of the vehicle, we began to walk along the road. Prairie Dog’s barked, alerting their family & friends of our presence. We gave them their space, feeding into their apparent confidence. This was their land, and no camera touting tourist was going to take it from them. We smiled, snapped a few pictures, and left.

Bison Grazing

Plains Bison Grazing

As we packed up for the day, we went on one final hike, one of the quick 2 kilometer loops. We stepped off the trail in hopes of finding more bison, rather than a snake. As we hiked over a hill, making careful progress, a plains bison was grazing within thumb-covering distance (the scientific measurement of safety with wildlife). It’s surprising how easy they are to spot. We stopped, ensuring we wouldn’t spook him. The last thing we’d want is a charging buffalo coming out way. We snapped our pictures, stared on the open landscape, and began our travels back home. A superb weekend trip that will surely be done again.

Safari in Saskatchewan at Grasslands National Park is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The White Pass & Yukon Route – Gateway to the North http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-white-pass-yukon-route-gateway-to-the-north/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-white-pass-yukon-route-gateway-to-the-north/#comments Thu, 02 Aug 2012 17:19:18 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4712 The White Pass & Yukon Route – Gateway to the North is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Driving from Whitehorse in the Yukon to Fraser, B.C to climb aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route is an experience unto itself. The scenery in this region can hardly be described. Hues of blue & green with sharp contrasts of icy white and dark charcoals and black cover the rocky mountainous terrain. It’s as if a painter had only a few colours on his pallet, but somehow managed to make a masterpiece with various tones and shades. The old train parked along the tracks overlooking this natural work of art is a stark reminder that you’re still a part of civilization, even if you can only see a few dozen people.

whitepass-yukon-route-train IN FRASER-BC

All Aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route

After awing over the beauty of Fraser, B.C, I boarded the train and was greeted by a friendly young train employee who happily points out the Train Engineer and the Conductor. At a cost of $135, taking the WhitePass is a great way to get to and from Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon. It’s worth noting that this isn’t your typical Eurorail type of train. These carts are old, and the rail line is practically ancient. While it may not be the fastest train you’ll ride, the slow pace gives you ample time to take in the breathtaking views during the ride.

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Old Sounds on an Old Train

As I acquainted myself with my seat, the train slowly began to move forward and I watched as the natural skyline began to change. My cart rocked gently back and forth, swaying to the beat of the precise heavy bass caused by the turning of the wheels. The hissing cry of metal on metal added a sense of old time flavour to the experience. The steam whistle screams and makes me jump. I laugh at myself for not expecting that. As the train passes through canyons covered in snow and ice I couldn’t help but feel as if it’s winter. It’s June 1st – practically summer – and snow in these regions are still measured in feet, rather than inches.

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A low ceiling of misty white clouds hangs over the mountains. Sleet and rain gently pour down, adding a sense of adventure to the slow moving train. Walking outside of the trailing cart I snap photos of the ever changing terrain. After passing through a few tunnels it’s clear to see we’re approaching a rainforest. Snow trades it’s place for massive trees and the temperature begins to warms up. Waterfalls and cliffs can be found every few kilometres along the rail line.

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Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

As the train curves around bends, I hang over the iron rails and snap photos. Then suddenly, as if waiting to see the train go by, a large brown bear is crouching beside the tracks. He isn’t moving, and one passenger asks “Is it real?” – as our cart is dragged a little further down the track we see the bear from another angle and quickly find out that yes, he is real, and yes bears do in fact shit in the woods. Our cart erupts in laughter as someone jokes “It’s the Charmin bear!“.

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On to Alaska

Moving slowly along cliffs and waterfalls, across old bridges and rivers, we made it to our final destination – Skagway, Alaska. While I have many thoughts and opinions on Skagway; I’ve decided to leave them be for now (separate post on that coming soon). A train with this much history and beauty along it’s path really needs to be experienced to fully understand it’s allure. You don’t have to be a train buff, history geek, or arctic explorer to enjoy the Whitepass Yukon Route. All you need are some curious eyes interested in seeing one of the most beautiful stretches of rail you can find in North America.

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The History of the White Pass & Yukon Route

The rail line between the Yukon and Alaska was built in 1898 in response to the Klondike Gold rush. Over 100,00 men & women stormed the Klondike region in hopes of striking it rich. These stampeders needed a quick way to get themselves and their gear into the region, and wealthy entrepreneurs of yesteryear tried to strike it rich by providing a futile service to the region. The single-track rail is 27.7 miles and takes you through the Norths most rugged terrain, including the Coast Mountains, Tongass National Forest & The White Pass Summit between British Columbia & Alaska, which sports a soaring elevation of 2,865 ft or 873m.

The White Pass & Yukon Route was designated an International Historic Civic Engineering Landmark in 1994, alongside such other engineering feats, including the Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty and the Panama Canal.

The White Pass & Yukon Route – Gateway to the North is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Where to spot Bears in Canada http://ibackpackcanada.com/where-to-spot-bears-in-canada/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/where-to-spot-bears-in-canada/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 15:23:11 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4555 Where to spot Bears in Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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When backpackers in Canada find out that I’m a Canadian, they assume that I have seen everything you could possibly see in this country. While I’ve seen a fair amount, I still feel as if I haven’t scratched the surface. One of the big questions I always get asked is “Have you seen a polar bear?” followed shortly by “How about a Grizzly?“. While I get to feel pretty cool saying I’ve seen the latter, I often have to explain that Polar Bears are tough to get to without a good savings of cash to pay your way up north.

I figured since this question is asked so often that I would find some maps of bear locations and sightings. Perhaps this will better explain myself in the future, or help people understand how remote bears can be. However, unless you’re a trained professional or happen to speak the bear language, I wouldn’t recommend trying to spot them yourself in the wild. Bears can be pretty unpredictable, but knowing where their territory starts and ends can help make visiting these remote locations safer for you, and the bears.

Polar Bear Territory

polar-bear-mapPolar Bears are tough to reach. They’re not going to be found on any normal roadtrip. Expect to take the train up to Churchill from Winnipeg to get a chance to see them, unless you’re cool with seeing them in a zoo. Check out Tundra Buggy – a company that promises to show you wild polar bears (and black bears too) from the safety of an elevated buggy. They drive across some of Canada’s roughest terrain in order to get to spot these white fluffy (and incredibly deadly) creatures. Check out Tundra Buggy for more info.

Grizzly Territory

grizzly-bear-mapsGrouse Mountain has a Wildlife Refuge, they’re home to Grey Wolves and yes, Grizzlies! You can watch them from a safe distance during the Spring and Summer. While it may not be the most wild Grizzly you could see, it gives you a good sense of their nature. Check out The Grouse Mountain wildlife-refuge for more info. If you’re really adamant about seeing a Grizzly in the wild, you can often spot them between Banff and Jasper along the highways. However, there’s a few “unwritten rules” you should adhere to when you’ve spot a bear along the highways.

1. Do not leave your vehicle for a photo, bears are faster than you think.
2. Do not feed the bears. Ever! A fed bear is a dead bear. If they get used to human contact, they get put down by the park. So save a bear, and your food!
3. Stop only for a short while, grab your photo and be on your way. Try your best not to start a Bear Jam. If more than two cars are watching a bear, you can bet that the next 30 vehicles will stop too. It gets pretty ugly quick when that happens.

Black Bear Territory

black-bear-mapThese little bears (in comparison to grizzlies) can be seen throughout Canada. They tend to keep to themselves like most bears, but don’t let their size in the bear kingdom confuse you. Black Bears attack just like the rest of them. They’re primarily found in the northern parts of the provinces and territories, but have been spotted in the southern parts as well. Campers are typically warned if there are bears in the area, and what type of extra precautions need to be made.

Brown Bear Territory

brown-bear-mapBrown bears have one of the smallest amounts of territory, and their numbers are still up for debate. Brown Bears size and weight can change drastically, depending on whether they’re located inland or on the coast. Personally I have never seen a brown bear but I have friends who’ve come across them camping deep in the bush. Just like every other bear out there; keep a safe distance. Remember that when you’re in their territory, you’re not at the top of the food chain anymore. Brown Bears can be spotted in the northern parts of BC and Alberta, as well as the Yukon & Alaska.

Kermode Bear Territory

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The Kermode Bear, or “The Spirit Bear” is a white (think polar bear-esque) bear that lives in the pacific west coast of Canada in a small region of islands and forest. They are one of the rarest bears you can find, and local legends and myths surround this magnificent creatures. Lately there’s been some serious threats to their habitat with Enbridge Tankers (famous for over 800 oil spills) & a pipeline that is set to expand into this area. If you’re keen on protesting, sign this petition to help show your concern. These bears possess a very small region of Canada, and are rarely sighted by humans due to their remote territory.

I am by all means not an expert in bears, I can count on two hands how many times I’ve seen them. They’re one of the most awesome animals to spot in Canada. However, sightings need to be done from a safe distance. These animals are powerful, and due to this crazy strength the moment they start interacting with human life their own lives are put in danger, as are the people they’ve grown accustom to.

Bears need to be respected and admired from afar. Youtube tends to be the safest distance you could get, so enjoy this great Grizzly Footage.

Where to spot Bears in Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Horseback Riding in Prince Albert National Park with Sturgeon River Ranch [Photo Essay] http://ibackpackcanada.com/horseback-riding-prince-albert-national-park-sturgeon-river-ranch-photo-essay/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/horseback-riding-prince-albert-national-park-sturgeon-river-ranch-photo-essay/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 14:50:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3748 Horseback Riding in Prince Albert National Park with Sturgeon River Ranch [Photo Essay] is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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If you’re from Saskatchewan, chances are there’s a little cowboy running through your blood. Be it the whimsical nature that we seem to have when it comes to long road trips (ie “It’s only an 8 hour drive, easy as pie!), or the general love affair most prairie folk seem to have with country music. Everyone from this little prairie province loves to claim they’re a little more cowboy than the next guy or gal. You wouldn’t believe how many arguments I’ve heard where people are arguing who’s hometown is smaller. No matter how cowboy you might think you are, chances are you’re not even playing in the same league as Gord Vaadeland, owner and operator of Sturgeon River Ranch.

This past Thanksgiving was hands down one of the most memorable I’ve ever had. I convinced my old man to take some time off work and join me up north for some fall horseback riding in the boreal forest. The goal was to catch sight of the 400+ free range plains bison that roam Prince Albert National Park. Little did we know how close we’d end up getting.

These brick-walls of beasts have had a tough go, yet despite their near extinction, they seem to be thriving in Prince Albert National Park since their re-introduction in 1969. They’ve come a long way since the first 50 were brought back. That’s partly due to the preservation efforts of Gord Vaadeland, Founder and Executive Director of the Sturgeon River Plains Bison Stewards. That’s only one of his gigs, he’s also the ED of CPAWS-SK and Watershed Awareness Coordinator for Provincial Council of Agriculture Development and Diversification. Say that 3 times fast… (Can’t be done!)

I got in contact with Gord while I was still in Halifax and asked if he’d be keen on showing me around his parts. He gladly obliged, and within weeks we had a unique tour of the area setup, which included Horseback Riding the western part of Prince Albert National Park in search of the bison, and sleeping in a traditionally built tipi at Ness Creek.

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A short 6 hour drive from Regina got us near Big River Saskatchewan. We pulled into Sturgeon River Ranch and were finally introduced to Gord. I soon learned that his skills extended beyond being an outfitter, a cowboy, and a bison steward. Turns out he’s also a bluegrass musician, and a bit of a TV Celebrity (What’s up Mantracker!?). We all hit it off and it wasn’t long before we had the horses in the trailer and ready to roll.

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Welcome to Prince Albert National Park

We pulled up to the edge of Prince Albert National Park and saddled up. It’d been a couple years since I’d ridden horse, but I managed to shake the cobwebs after the first mile or so. Gord led us through trails that wove through birch and spruce, our horses powered through the thick. Watching Gord lead us slowpokes, I couldn’t help but think “Shoulda found a cowboy hat!”. That thought was interupted as I was forced to dodge a low hanging branch. I chuckled to myself, “Keep cool Corbin, pay attention…”

Horses-Spot-Bison-Prince-Albert-National-Park

Our horses began to slow down, and suddenly became a bit nervous. You could feel the tension in the air. These horses knew something was up a ways. We all stopped in our tracks. A gentle breeze blew through the trees, the sound of rubbing leather mixed with the loud breathe of the horses made that moment feel like it lasted a lifetime. Gord whispered “They’re up there. You hear that?”. Large crunching snaps echo’d back our way.

Gord Vaadeland - Sturgeon River Ranch

We slowly pressed on, nobody said a word. We didn’t know if we’d get a second chance to spot the bison up ahead. As we continued through the trail, the bush got thicker. Gord lead us in the direction of the breaking trees. We slowed down again, and Gord explained “We usually recommend people keep a safe distance from the bison. If you can cover them with your thumb, you’re close enough. But since you’re with me, we’ll be using our elbows and putting that thumb a little closer to your face, which means we’ll be getting a bit closer. Hope that’s okay!” I nodded my head with a huge smile “Of course!”.

Wild Free Range Bison Saskatchewan Prince Albert

Spotting the Wild Plains Bison

The sound of snapping trees got louder, but the bush was so thick you could hardly tell how close you were. Gord offered to hang onto our horses to see if we can get a clear photo. I climbed off Applejack (a trustworthy steed if I may say so) and nervously moved toward the sound of wild bison. My old man was right behind. Creeping towards the bison soon became a game of “Oh yea? I dare you to keep going!” I’d take one step, my Dad would take two. Soon we were lookin in the eyes of at least eight free ranging plains bison (there may have been dozens more behind them). We couldn’t have been more than 30 feet away from the small herd.

Blue-skies-Birch-Trees-Saskatchewan

A final tree snap stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked at my old man and made eye contact, implying “If they move, I’m so out!” Several grunts and loud thumps on the ground forced me to take a step back. Then two. I looked up and blue skies and birch trees surrounded us, making a fast escape nearly impossible. Their noises progressively got louder, and I decided I had enough of playing chicken with thousand pound bisons. Another grunt & crack, and I was out! “Only gotta be faster than the guy behind you” I remember hearing. We laughed as we got back to our horses, blown away with what we’d just done. Needless to say my Dad gave me a hard time for backing out before him.

I was completely speechless as I tried to thank Gord. “Awesome. Wow!”. He laughed and said “I didn’t realize how close you guys were!”. He laughed as he handed us back our reins. Had that been anyone else I’m sure he would have Clint Eastwood stared us so bad for getting that close. But Gord seemed to trust us. Nothing like having a cowboy on your side!

Long meadow prince albert national park sk

Long Meadow – Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

We pushed forward, following a few rough trails. Gord warmly told us about the history of the bison and shared some of the incredible preservation work being done with bison. This man is clearly passionate about his work. Who else but a Saskatchewan Patriot would come out on Thanksgiving Day to show a couple outta-towners around. As the conversation died down, the scenery opened up. A natural clearing called “Long Meadow” greeted us.

Horseback riding prince albert national park moose antlers

It was a breathe of fresh air to see the flatlands again and to set my eyes on the big blue sky. As we entered the meadow a White-tail deer skipped back into the cover of the trees. We followed Gord and picked up our pace. Just a few prairie boys wandering the land by horse. We stopped a mile or two up the meadow as Gord pointed out some moose antlers. A mile up and he stops to point out another sign of wildlife. The remains of a bison.

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Bison Remains

He explained what makes Prince Albert National Park so different from all the rest with one word. “Predation.” There’s a couple wolf packs in the area that hunt the weak, injured, and the old. It’s a common sight in the park. It’s pretty wild to think that something could actually take a bison out.

Horses-grazing-Saskatchewa-Prince-Albert-National-Park

We stopped for lunch in the middle of Long Meadow and Gord continued to share stories. The mans got a bunch, but you’ll have to book him yourself to hear them all. The horses fueled up on wild grass while we gorged on sandwiches and some of the best home made cookies I’ve ever had. Then it was back in the saddle.

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Another herd of Bison

A few miles up we had our second encounter with another small herd of bison. Once again they were hidden in the trees. If my camera had a fist, it would have been shaking it vigorously at them. I wanted to see them in the wide open, but I suppose it wasn’t meant to be! More the reason to come back again!

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It was coming on the 5th hour of riding, and the sun was just beginning to set. We had one last leg of trails to hit before calling it a day. We found our way onto a rough dirt road. Gord explained that a lot of these roads were actually started by the Bison. When people started showing up in the area, they picked up where the bison left off and turned the rough trails into drive-able roads.

Stoney Plain Meadow Prince Albert National Park

Stoney Plain Meadow – Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

Our fearless leader wandered into rougher terrain. Steep hills and fast slopes was the name of the game. Rocks, trees, and the odd patch of mud reminded our horses not to stumble. The horses pulled through with ease, and we soon found ourselves on top of a hill, overlooking Stoney Plain Meadow. Gord pointed out where his family’s land was and we enjoyed the start of sunset. Good company, great ride, and one helluva view. The definition of a great way to end the day!

Sturgeon River Ranch, Saskatchewan

Back at Sturgeon River Ranch

We loaded up the horses and dropped them off at Sturgeon River Ranch. I bid farewell to my new four legged friend Applejack and thanked Gord for sharing his wealth of expertise. He gave us directions to Ness Creek and said he’d meet up with us shortly. We drove 20 minutes on gravel roads and eventually found the right road.

Ness Creek Awaits

As we pulled into the Ness Creek grounds, you could see that it was a place for artists, free thinkers, and eco-friendly community leaders. The craftsmanship in everything from the signs, to the cabins, to the pieces of outdoor art located throughout the grounds make you stop and think “I wish I did more stuff like this!”

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We turned the bend and saw our accommodations for the night. Standing in the middle of a field was a traditionally built dakota tipi. The wooden poles pierced the orange sky, a light breeze blew the doorway gently. I stopped in my tracks to stand and take it all in before snapping a photo. Wild bison, a full day of riding in the boreal forest, and now a night under the stars. I thought to myself “I have this moment to be thankful for.”

Big thanks goes out to Gord & the Gang at Ness Creek for showing me around their little slice of heaven. If you want to see more wildlife photos be sure to check out the Bison Stewards Facebook Page. Same goes with the Sturgeon River Ranch Facebook page! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on Ness Creek, in the mean time, check out Gord Vaadeland’s appearance in Mantracker.

Horseback Riding in Prince Albert National Park with Sturgeon River Ranch [Photo Essay] is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Sunday Canadian Travel Video – Whales and Icebergs in Newfoundland & Labrador http://ibackpackcanada.com/sunday-canadian-travel-video-whales-and-icebergs-in-newfoundland-labrador/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/sunday-canadian-travel-video-whales-and-icebergs-in-newfoundland-labrador/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2011 20:52:06 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3173 Sunday Canadian Travel Video – Whales and Icebergs in Newfoundland & Labrador is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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For the last year or so, my redheaded friend from Newfoundland (Candice Does The World) has been bugging me to come for a visit to explore the rock in the Atlantic that she calls home. There’s been a few occasions where I had the flight setup online, all I had left to do was fill out the payment details. It seems like I let the purchase time out all the time; however, one of these days that will change. After watching videos like these, its beginning to seem as if the indecision is almost completely kneaded out of me.

As a kid I had this giant book of Cetaceans that I studied front to back. I was absolutely obsessed with whales & dolphins. To see something that could stay underwater for so long, and live entirely in water while still having such a complex social structure. Wow. Those things blew my 8 year old mind. Still do from the looks of things! Unfortunately, being from the prairies, it was quite a while before I actually saw any, the first being those two sad Dolphins in West Edmonton Mall, the second a wild pod in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

So I chose this video because I love whales & dolphins, the corny celtic music, and hilarious captions over videos. They pretty much make my day. My personal favourite caption is “Aerobatic Dolphins!” I’m not sure why that makes me laugh so much, maybe I’m sleep deprived. But wow, good stuff.

 

My biggest fear is that I’ve waited too late in the summer to see the icebergs in Newfoundland. Apparently the Iceberg season lies between May & the end of July. Which isn’t to say I can’t go again next summer; by all means I’ll have more time to do so. But I swear, if I don’t find myself in Newfoundland soon I will be obligated to donate a well aimed punch to my own gentlemen.

 

High 5′s out to FinWhales for the awesome website.

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Sunday Canadian Travel Video – Whales and Icebergs in Newfoundland & Labrador is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Enter “The Way I Sea It” Contest & Help Make A Difference http://ibackpackcanada.com/enter-the-way-i-sea-it-contest-help-make-a-difference/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/enter-the-way-i-sea-it-contest-help-make-a-difference/#comments Tue, 03 May 2011 20:33:00 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=2685 Enter “The Way I Sea It” Contest & Help Make A Difference is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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