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Road Tripping

Road tripping is a classic North American vacation, a unique way to see the land that air travel just doesn’t provide. As a young kid annually my folks would load us into the car, latch the pop-up tent trailer to the hitch and hit the road for a week’s vacation. As I got older those road trips turned into different forms of excess that involved fishing, skiing, mountain bikes and being young and wild. Travelling in our own vehicles gave us the opportunity to explore at will and move on when we felt like it. There was a freedom to the itinerary that just can’t be replicated when booking flights and buses is involved.

Big timber elk playing hide and seek.

With the novel coronavirus still pushing on strong options for trips this past summer were limited, Rachael being an avid traveler it was hurting her more than me. I’ve been content with staying near home and exploring our backyard more extensively, but she likes to get out and see the world. With COVID deals coming along we lined-up a road trip from our place in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia through to Alberta with stops in YOHO, Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper National Parks. The twelve days were busy, filled with driving, sightseeing, glacier tours, boat cruises, hikes, canoeing and lots of photography.

A family group of Big Horn Sheep hanging out beside the highway.

The highlight of our time on the road was Jasper, everyday we saw black bear, big horn sheep, moose and quite a few elk, including multiple sightings of a beautiful 6x6 Rachael named Dave the Elk. Over five days Dave went from full velvet to a rack dripping long strips, his antlers bloody and blonde underneath. As a hunter and photographer, I was in awe of these animals, their presence was breathtaking, tinged with a hint of sadness that they were accustomed to people and missing the essence of their truly wild brethren. After spending day after day in Canada’s most historic National Parks I understood why photographers flock here. Opportunities abound around every corner for epic photos, whether it was the abundant wildlife, mountains or the sun setting on glacier fed lake.

The roadside attractions in Jasper are rather majestic.

Though I am in no rush to get back to the heaving tourism of Lake Louise or Banff, Jasper and YOHO truly caught my attention. I would love to spend more time in these places, maybe during the elk rut when they are much more active and bugling. I didn’t get shots of any large big horn rams, only a few fleeting glimpses and I didn’t see a grizzly bear at all which was something we had been hoping for. The beauty of the future is that we can always go back. With climate change turning our world on its ear that trip might have to happen sooner than later, before some of these mountain animals follow our glaciers, becoming much rarer or disappearing altogether.

See you on the water or the mountains.

-Matthew Mallory


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