An interesting bison adventure

Today we decide to start by exploring yet another park close to where we are staying: the Cooking Lake Blackfoot Provincial park just the name sounds enticing:)

This is a park that has a multipurpose management and in summer there are trails dedicated to hiking, biking and others to horse riding, whereas in winter the hiking trails get converted to cross country skiing and the equestrian trails to dog sledding. A short segment of autumn allows hunting in the park grrr. We are relying on my blue cap to make us conspicuous to shooting parties but we certainly don’t hear any fire arms while we are hiking.

The area is gorgeous with lots of lakes and ponds and again we are hoping for a Moose encounter.

We pick a circuitous route maximizing Moose spotting chances and we certainly come across a number of fresh Moose tracks and little bedding down areas where they go to sleep by the lakes. André  lets out some amazing Moose calls that are meant to bring either an interested Moosette for a look or a rival male Moose out of the woods. Later when I verify the call against a recording, he is pretty close, so I guess there was no one in the vicinity of the call.
We also come across some black bear droppings but no sightings. The hiking trail in these autumn colours is really special and the swooshing leaves under foot add to the autumn ambience.

We get home for a very late lunch and we are pretty ravenous. It’s time to try our nalesniky which just need a quick bake in the oven.
I am happy to report after enhancing our deliscious homemade pasta sauce with the Matsutake mushrooms we enjoy their unique flavour and live to tell the tale at dinner last night.
We have heard that the chances of seeing Auroras tonight is pretty high, so the plan is to feed the troops earlier, head out for a dusk wildlife sighting and stay on in the Park for hopefully some Northern lights.

The troops are good with that, Chico has taken over from the girls as chief kitchen supervisor.

So when the time has come to serve dinner, they all await patiently as the deliscious evening meal of dry food, coconut oil for shiny coats, glucosamine for healthy joints, green beans for regularity, small potato as we are in Canada and a bit of tuna gets prepared.

We pack emergency food for ourselves and on dusk we leave for the adventure. As we arrive in Elk Lake National park the colours of the setting sun really bring out the gold in the trees.

We hear buggeling Elk and we see lots of beavers coming out of their homes to do some wood chipping. There is quite a lot of animal activity . André is after a spot with good northern outlook so that when the Auroras come he might be able to get some light  reflected in the water. As we arrive at the chosen lake a couple of very large male bison greet us.
We are starting to loose the light, so a quick pack of the gear, tripods, food and a couple of portable chairs and we head out to find that special spot. Our visibility to the side is diminishing and finally it is time to pull out the headlamps, so we can see where we are going. Just after we put on the headlamps we come to a small clearing heading in the right direction,  for the edge of the lake. Just then our lights catch two red eyes and standing about 10m from us is a large bison. We assess the situation, one picnic table to the right, one wood shed just behind us could work in case of a charge and a large tree just to the side of the bison. I think we should give the bison a wide birth, André believes a straight on approach at least keeps us close to the wood pile and picnic table. As we slowly get another 2 m closer the bison gives his warning sign of scratching the ground with his hoof and we decide maybe another lake spot will work better for the Auroras. We leave Mr. Bison to graze in peace and make our retreat.

We do another map check and find another potential spot. It is jaw droppingly gorgeous and thank you Mr Bison, as we have this magical spot with coyotes howling in the distance and Canada geese honking as they settle in  for the night to ourselves. Not too long after our arrival, the Auroras start.

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