Two Brits up Munn Creek without a paddle

My name is Harry Martin and I’ve spent the last three weeks learning the ropes as a guide, chauffeur, cleaner and general all round helper here at Rocky Mountain Escape.  It’s been a steep learning curve, getting to know the local trails, roads and wildlife, but I can’t believe how fast it has gone already.  I arrived in Canada shortly after graduating this summer, from the University of Manchester, with a degree in Zoology looking for a way to gain more experience, while seeing an incredible part of the world at the same time. I’ve travelled here with a friend from university, Kat, who was the one who found out about this place, and after getting in touch with Laura passed on the details to me.  Well I couldn’t jolly well say no to an opportunity to spend a couple of months in the Rocky Mountains of Canada could I!  With flights booked we arrived in Edmonton at the end of July to scorching hot weather and blue skies, not a bad welcome really.  A (relatively) short bus ride to Hinton saw us picked up by one of the previous volunteers, also named Laura, who took us up to the cabins for our first taste of proper wilderness.

The view from the top of the Berland ridge – stunning!

Taken on the way up the alpine meadow trail - my first big hike in the Rockies

Taken on the way up the alpine meadow trail – my first big hike in the Rockies

Having spent most summers of my childhood hiking in the Scottish Highlands I thought I was fairly familiar with mountain landscapes and “remote” areas, but boy was I wrong. Everything over here is huge, the landscapes, the wildlife, and the cars of course.  So far I have had a brief glimpse of a black bear on the highway, seen plenty of squirrels, had a moose in the middle of the road in front of me and I can’t forget the birds can I! Gray jays have been a regular feature, and will readily take blueberry pancakes (they’re very fussy) straight from the hand. As a keen bird watcher I have loved getting know the local species, including golden eagles and quite an array of beautiful warblers.

These beautiful birds are gray jays, and are incredibly curious and confiding

Spruce grouse are amazingly well camouflaged and they're instinct when faced with danger is to freeze allowing me to grab this photograph

Spruce grouse are amazingly well camouflaged and their instinct when faced with danger is to freeze which allowed me to grab this photograph.

Everywhere you go you're bound to bump into squirrels - which makes Leo a very happy dog of course!

Everywhere you go you’re bound to bump into squirrels – which makes Leo a very happy dog of course!

This female goldeneye has been seen regularly with her chicks down on Rock Lake - with 4 at the moment lets hope they all make it!

This female goldeneye has been seen regularly with her chicks down on Rock Lake – with 4 at the moment lets hope they all make it!

Undoubtably, a highlight of my time here at Rocky Mountain Escape was the opportunity to get on a horse for the first time for a ride through some spectacular scenery.  A 3-hour ride along the Athabasca river valley provided an incredible backdrop for a complete beginner.  My horse was particularly challenging and required constant control to make sure she didn’t try to overtake the whole group; I’ve always been a fan of jumping in at the deep end. 

Not a deliberate pose believe it or not - I happened to be scratching my head when Kat quickly snapped me in action.

Not a deliberate pose believe it or not – I happened to be scratching my head when Kat quickly snapped me in action.

As a keen wildlife and nature photographer the Rocky Mountains, with their diverse fauna and flora, has meant I’m out with my camera at almost every opportunity.  The photographs accompanying this post have been taken in the past couple of weeks and I hope to get out more soon! With fall approaching the colours along with the breath-taking scenery will surely provide a landscape I can barely do justice.  If you like my images be sure to check out my website (www.harrymartinphotography.co.uk) and/or my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/harrymartinphotography), or if twitter is more your thing you can also find me there (@harrymartin22) – I try to update when I can! Until next…. happy trails!!


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