Canada Travel Diary: Day 7 – 06/04/15

I feel like keeping a journal is becoming a chore. It’s covered with scruffy handwriting, words I can’t even make out due to the hand cramps.

I have no idea where we went today, I took note of a few places we passed, but that’s about it. Bob, Fran and I drove to numerous places to find the wild horses. I got promoted to the front of the car, so I wouldn’t get left behind again, which is also a bonus as I can see out more of windows.

The majority of the day is spent driving in the car do the different locations. Bob said you could drive the length of the UK all the miles we put in. I can see his point, you can drive for miles and miles out here, not passing any towns or houses, whereas back home you would. I mean we have not passed a single gas station out here. I wonder what happens if they run out of fuel?

Thing is, I don’t mind the long drives, as it is something I have always loved; looking out windows, watching the world pass by and keeping a look out for wildlife of course. Thus, this is what I did on this journey.  As soon as we left a whopping great big bird flew over the jeep. Spreading its wings, it soared overhead.

A Bald Eagle. It was huge! And so close, you could see its big menacing beak! It’s a shame I didn’t have my camera out. How unfortunate, as I saw 2 Bald Eagles today and no one will ever believe I’ve seen one now.

En route we saw loads of wolf tracks and when I say loads, I mean loads; I would love to see a pack of wolves out here!

In actual fact we saw a number of different tracks today. Because of the recent snowfall it’s easy to spot. Wolves, Moose, Cougar and Pine Martin were the tracks we saw today, along with a Golden Eagle and a Flicker which is a type of woodpecker.

Back to the journey…

Looking out for signs to give an indication to where we are heading, I noticed we passed Bearberry. Not long after, we pull into a forestry area, and spot three horses immediately close to some trees. The bay stallion looked like he’d been in the wars to protect his mares, scars covering his body. We carry on in this area and come across three more horses, all bays again. They were on the edge of the road in a snowy area, which was great, and then it started snowing. Luckily I managed to get some snaps before it got too heavy. As we left, directly opposite we spotted a chestnut stuck in a power line area, so Fran and Bob opened the fence up so he could find his way out.

Moving on we entered this massive forest and didn’t see horses for what felt like hours. We took various paths and eventually found them in a little valley area where the grass was sparse. The strange was we’d driven past areas with loads of grass, yet no horses! In this area we saw 3 young studs. It was a lovely spot for pictures and created a lovely background with beautiful light. I’m glad they played ball and posed as some of my favourite images come from this area.

Considering the amount of miles we put it, we saw very few horses. It’s funny how they are getting culled because ‘there’s too many’. From about 2pm-5pm we saw none. We even went off-roading up this steep hill, (“Hold onto your hats people” was Fran’s Quote), which was a little hairy, but the view was fantastic.

After a long day I was dropped back at the hotel and rang a Sarah whom moved out here 10 years ago from London. It was recommended I get in touch with her by Bob and Fran so I did that this evening and ended up going out to dinner with her and her family. It was a lovely meal and really nice to eat with people instead of alone.

 

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Canada Travel Diary: Day 5– 04/04/15

“WAIT!”

“STOP!”

“COME BACK!”

The dust kicks up as I sprint frantically through the light brown smog. I scream at the top of my lungs trying to get their attention, waving my arms like a crazed madman. My heart is pumping and my lungs clench under the cold midday air. My throat feels raspy; it hurts. My legs soon tire, and I stand alone, teary-eyed and exhausted. The sound of the engine soon dissipates as it rounds a bend, leaving a falling cloud of dust in its wake.

My last cry for help “Don’t leave me……”

My throat catches, and I feel the cool shiver of sorrow bubble inside.” Don’t cry you idiot, that’s not going to help things. ”

But the truth is I’m scared.

Very scared.

I didn’t come on this trip to be a lone survivor in desolate plains of the Canadian wilderness.

Clutching tightly onto my camera, a million terrible scenarios run through mind. I try to think clearly, of the next course of action when an emergency happens. It’s a difficult thing to do when you’re on the brink of letting your emotions take hold, and turn you into a small ball of a teary mess.

Great, my water’s in my bag…which is now hurtling away in the opposite direction. Talk about icing on the cake.

I start walking. I’ve just been stranded in a Canadian wood, populated by bears, wolves and mountain lions. Never mind what I said in my last post about bear attacks being rare, my mind is nowhere near at ease.

What happens if one attacks?

And eats me?

All the evidence is hidden…..apart from my camera, my shoes and probably some smelly socks!

It’s the middle of the day and the sun is still high in the sky. Luckily, the human eating mammals should be sleeping. SHOULD.

I glance around nervously as I walk; I am a lone female with no survival skills what’s so ever. I don’t even know how to light a fire, let alone make one.

Fact is, sometimes people lost in the wilderness never make it out.

What are you supposed to do? Stop and calm down. Your gut reaction is to panic and when fear or panic rules your mind, it only works against you. The thing is, if people know you’re out in the wilderness and missing, eventually someone will come looking. By moving around you make it harder for the rescue party.

So what did I do? Carry on walking.

I look down at my dirty boots as I scrape their thick rubber bottom against the dry sandy road. Suddenly the silence is broken, and no it is not me whaling like a lost infant. It’s them!

Two grinning faces appear behind the dashboard of the jeep. At this point I don’t even care if it was a joke; I’m just so relieved they’re here!  I am welcomed with the sound of laughter as I clamber into the backseat. I am not impressed at this point, but the over whelming joy of not having to spend the night in the woods allows me to join in with the laughter.

That was a close one…

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One of my favourites

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‘Portero’

 

Canada Travel Diary: Day 4 – 03/04/15

“Don’t worry, there isn’t any grizzlies in these parts”. That’s what Bob said, just before letting me loose to photograph the wild horses that live on the rescue site.

I arrived not long ago when Bob, the president of the society ‘Wild Horses of Alberta Society’, and his partner Fran picked me up from the B&B. They arrived slightly early so I rushed to cram the remainder of my belongings away and run down the stairs with my luggage to meet them. In my rush, I almost slipped up on the wooden flooring.

I would miss the homeliness of the B&B and the city, but I am moving to a new place where the work and the real fun starts.

“Bye Louise, it was nice having you” Arlene the B&B owner hollered down the stairs.

“BYE! Thanks again” I yelled back before letting the door swing shut and walking towards the big red car that awaits.

I haul my luggage into the boot; Bob extended his hand as a greeting and so does Fran.

“Well hop in, ” Bob said. I clambered up into the big car; it was quite a way up for a short person.

We chatted for part of the journey to Sundre, talking about R.Vs, the Canadian domestic life and about the horses of course. I chatted with ease, which surprised me as I’m normally quite shy and don’t say more than ‘Hmm’.

So that how I ended up at the facility to meet the volunteers, the rescued wild horse, and the wild onsite band, much to my pleasant surprise.

This was where I was when Bob said about the bears. If I’m honest, the fact a bear could eat me didn’t cross my mind until he said that. I was actually worried more about the stallion charging at me!

Two types of bears actually reside in Canada. The grizzly bear and the smaller black bear  are both species that are omnivores, which means they eat anything from berries to salmon.

In fact, what are the odds of me being killed by a bear?

Incredibly low in fact, I remember reading in Stephen Herrero’s book Bear Attacks that attacks are events and in North America there are approximately six hundred thousand black bears and sixty thousand grizzlies. Anyway, statistics say in the 2000’s in North America including Canada, U.S, and Mexico the Black Bear killed 15 people and the Grizzly killed 12 in the same period. Not that many when you think about it. In other words, less than 3 people are killed each year in North America.

So there I am. Walking towards the back of the rescue site towards the area where the wild horses are lingering. There are so many trees in the woods, mainly birch. I stand in a clearing, silence. I look up at the tall trees, they’re huge. I walk on the pine cushioned floor littered with dirt and leaves. You would have thought there’d be a fresh, nature smell in the area, but I smell….nothing. I’ve never smelt nothing before. The air is fresh and crisp. The sun filters through the trees creating a dazzling light.

I spot the stallion first. The stallion they call ‘Portero’ which means gatekeeper in Spanish. He is magnificent with this great presence and this beautiful long wavy mane covering his dark eyes. The sun shining over his coat, his muscles rippling. His mares stand behind dozing peacefully and heavily pregnant.

The horses, this place, the silence, is magnificent. I can’t believe I saw the wild horses on my first day and managed to get some stunning photographs.

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Wild stallion known as Socks. My first sighting

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‘Portero’

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