Monday, May 23, 2016

Trail Camera Results

Trip Date: May 2016

In early May I headed west from Calgary to check both trail cameras. I knew we'd be busy in the coming weeks and was unsure when I'd be able to check them again, so I wanted to swap batteries and memory cards and ensure their positioning was effective. I stopped at the Bow Valley camera first and was pleasantly surprised with the results so far. This was my newest Moultrie camera and hadn't been checked yet, so I was more than happy with what I captured. I thought this spot offered some good potential based on the sheer number of tracks in the area. Like my camera in the Spray Valley there were also bones from a kill scattered around and various types of scat nearby.

My new Moultrie camera locked and ready to roll!
Jaw bone from an Elk
The rest of the skeleton was scattered throughout the area
I had lots of photos of Elk and Deer on this camera
Elk at dusk
After I was finished in the Bow Valley I headed south into the Spray Valley. Again, after arriving at the camera I was pretty excited by what I saw. My fingers are crossed that this location continues to surprise me!

Who doesn't like bear bottoms?
Moose on the loose!
I was most excited to catch wolves on camera again!
In addition to Black Bears, Moose and Wolves I also captured Elk and Deer. If you'd like to see additional photos please visit my Wildlife Camera photo album on Facebook.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ole Buck Loop

Trip Date: May 2016

Early on a Saturday morning Rome and I headed west to check my trail cameras. Surprisingly it didn't take as long as I thought it would, so on the way back to Calgary we stopped at Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Area for a short hike around the Ole Buck Loop. Ole Buck is a 2.4km loop, but requires a 1km hike to access it, so at the end of it all it's almost 4.5km round-trip with 170m gained in elevation. We parked at the Sibbald Lake Day Use Area and worked our way east to the trailhead. 
This is what the trailhead looks like as you begin the 1km hike to access the Ole Buck Loop
The Sibbald Lake water level looks a little low from the last time I was here
A grove of Poplar Trees
The main trail connects with various other trails leading to the campground and lake, so it's important to stay the course. Eventually you'll reach a fork in the trail, marked with a trail map. At that junction you'll take the left fork, which heads downhill to a bridge that cross Bateman Creek (or as the map suggests Batman Creek, since the 'e' has been scratched off!).

The Bateman Creek Bridge has seen better days!
Bateman Creek
Immediately after crossing the bridge you'll be greeted by a T intersection. It doesn't matter if you go right or left as this is the Ole Buck Loop and either way will take you to the top. We opted to go right and complete the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. The loop starts out in a meadow with many game paths criss-crossing the main trail. Watch for the painted red dots on the Poplar Trees or the small signs with the hiking logo printed on them to keep you on the right track. We didn't have any issues staying on the main trail as whoever painted the dots did a mighty fine job!

Starting to hike on the Ole Buck Loop
Trail markers; red dots (left) and signage (right)
Despite the recent snowfall there were some wildflowers in bloom, like this Blue Clematis
After leaving the meadow the trail begins to climb steadily and continues that way to the summit. Shortly after beginning our climb I spotted some tufts of fur on trail, which I guessed had once belong to a deer. A little off-trail exploration with the help of Rome's incredibly powerful sense of smell and we quickly discovered the remains of a deer carcass. From the look of things the deer had been killed over the course of the winter and dragged under a nearby tree to be consumed over a period of time. I am just guessing, but I think it was a Cougar that had killed and eaten this particular deer.

All that's left after the skeleton was picked clean
The deer's skull was still firmly attached to it's spine
Continuing our ascent to the summit
After reaching the summit, Rome and I took a little time to explore and enjoy the view, although I'm sure it was much better when the trees weren't as tall!

Moose Mountain peeking through the trees on the Ole Buck summit
This was something I didn't expect to find. Kids or just kids at heart?
Rome using the summit bench as her own personal stool!
After a quick break at the top we began our descent. Near the bottom I noticed some brightly coloured banners tied around several trees just off the trail. They immediately reminded me of the ceremonial banners at the ti-jurabi-chubi site, which wasn't that far away. They were also eerily similar to the ones we found while hiking the Zephyr Creek Trail. I am unsure of the significance of these particular banners, but I am sure they must have some sort of cultural meaning.

Colourful banners tied to several different trees
Approaching the end of the loop with Moose Mountain looming large in the background
The Ole Buck Loop is an easy day-hike that isn't too far from Calgary. If you're looking for a relaxing stroll or are strapped for time keep this adventure in mind. I'm looking forward to discovering more hikes in the Sibbald Lake area.