Last month Kevin and I headed off on a winter road adventure with some members of the Wood Buffalo Photography Club. Despite how long we have lived in our Northern home, we had never travelled the winter road. And we definitely travelled the winter road - all the way to Fort Smith, Northwest Territories and back within 36 hours. Phew! It was certainly a whirlwind and I'd now like to do it again with a little more time allowance and my own plan of action.
Due to the whirlwind nature of our trip, the slideshow below is a series of images shot through the front window (from the passenger seat). I wanted to quickly capture the varying road conditions and scenery despite not having enough time to stop and craft my images as I would normally! There were many places that I felt disappointed that I could not stop and savour, or images that I wanted to perfect. But not every moment is meant for creating and perfecting images - sometimes it's just for the memory bank.
It felt really special to have taken the journey - a road that is impassable in any other season due to the terrain and river crossings. And now we've touched every border of Alberta! When you look at a map of the province there's this vast Northern section that is begging to be explored - we've journeyed through it - drove right over frozen rivers and sand dunes - through forests and marshes!
With the warming temperatures of the change of seasons, we will have to wait until next winter to travel it again. The quietness of a landscape largely untouched was so special and why I love venturing off into the backcountry. (And as much as I love hiking, it was definitely a perk to have a warm vehicle to shelter us from the bitter cold!)
Note: Click on the images below to view the gallery of my images from our trip! If you're on a desktop, press the space bar once you're in the gallery and it will create an automatic slideshow for you. :)
Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to really explore the communities of Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith - which I would really love to know more about. It's one thing to study a place from afar, and another to actually be there and experience it.
Although the trip was fairly quiet on the wildlife front we were treated to the sights of Spruce Grouse, a Rough-Legged Hawk, a Northern Hawk Owl and a number of Snowy Owls! (And, um, some "eagles" that ended up being wasp nests mounded in snow.) For those of you who know me, I was over the moon to witness the owls, in particular. They were often in the distance, clear enough that you could recognize their silhouette and pull out the binoculars - but too far away to photograph effectively. On our way back South we came across them right along the road! What a blessing!
I can't believe it took us this long to finally take the trek but now that we know better what to expect, we can certainly make plans for future trips up this gorgeous winter road. I sure love my Northern Alberta home.