Gore-Tex and UFOs in the Canadian Rockies


The autumn colors still aren’t going full throttle in Banff and Jasper as of the past few days. The normally bad time of the day for pictures, noonish, has the sun too high above the horizon making the shadows harsh and tight to the landscape.

As with all rules, there are exceptions. During the fall, back lighting can add depth and color to your photo.

I was wiling away the time, looking for interesting locations for the evening when I came upon an interesting looking waterfall near the Saskatchewan River Crossing. I headed up the creek, climbing upwards looking for an interesting falls, background combination. Over boulders, around deadfall, climbing higher. As the sun came around the mountain side the few fall colors on the mountain caught the light, brightening up an otherwise dark rock face. When I got to this particular falls, I moved the tripod around shooting from different angles, higher, lower, left, right.

Being the dullard that I am, I slowly realized that my feet were getting cold. Looking down, I had been standing in the creek. My feet were still dry though. Gore-Tex! The beauty of Gore-Tex.

I had picked up this pair of hiking boots in the spring and had noticed that during creek crossings my boots didn’t seem to get wet like my old ones had. I highly recommend these kinds of boots if you spend any time outdoors. They cost a little more but dry feet are warm feet. Warm feet means staying outside longer.


Later that evening, I ended up camping at the Wilcox Creek campground near the icefields, feet dry and noticing how much quicker it cooled down once the sun had set compared to Preachers Point on the Kootenay Plains.

I put the camera and tripod on the picnic table, pointed it skyward and waited for it to get dark, hoping to capture the Milky Way. Darker and darker it got. My eyes became accustomed to the darkness and I soon was able to pick out satellites as they crossed the sky. That reminded me of being a toddler and camping at Shunda Creek near Nordegg, lying by the camp fire and trying to spot satellites through the tall trees. There are so many more satellites up in the sky now than there were fifty years ago.

Along with the satellites, I could see the occasional commercial jet high in the sky traveling west to east, presumably headed to Edmonton from Vancouver. I continued snapping shots and adjusting the  length of exposure and iso until I thought I had what I wanted.

I put everything back in the Rav and just sat back against the table marveling at the enormity of the universe. At times like this, you can feel insignificant when you see all that is up there. There is probably something in all of us, a physical memory if you will from our ancestors when we gazed at the sky.

Then it happened. A bright, bright light was moving west to east directly overhead. It was easily as bright as Venus is in the morning. As it tracked across the sky, it almost seemed as if there was a dark area all around it. When it passed in front of star, I could have swore that it was a point of white light with a dark area all around it. This continued on for a few seconds. It moved much faster than any commercial jet had that evening and many times brighter.

It got even brighter momentarily, then dimmed to half brightness, not stopping still moving. Then if faded to a dull red, seemed to speed up and instead of looking like it was dropping from the sky looked like it was going up and then faded to nothing. Weird. What was that?

I’ve seen enough aircraft, helicopters, meteorites and once was seriously interested in astronomy to know that it wasn’t anything I could explain.

With that I hopped into the back of the Rav, pulled over the sleeping bag and proceeded to listen to bears walking through the campsite until I fell asleep. How do I know they were bears? I didn’t see them. When people walked by my campsite on the gravel road, there was a definite heel, toe sound. The bears were more like a soft padding on the gravel. Once the sound circled the truck twice and then disappeared.

Bears or intergalactic travelers?

With that I fell asleep not knowing what was in store for me the next day.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on September 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “Gore-Tex and UFOs in the Canadian Rockies”

  1. Excellent shots & creepy story! I love night photography, but I’m a big chicken for things that go bump in the night. And I have a hard time trying to convince anyone to stand outside with me for hours waiting on the long exposures! However judging by the lack of light trails your exposures couldn’t have been that long.

  2. Hi Roberta, I purposely kept the exposure short so that I wouldn’t get star trails and used a wide lens, 16mm on full frame body to minimize the trails even further.

    The camera iso was set to 800 an the exposure was f2.8 at around a minute give or take a few secs, I was counting the seconds.

    There is a bit of noise in the darker areas of the sky. As a small image the noise isn’t objectionable but I know that there is enough noise that Masterfile wouldn’t accept it as is. Since I have no intention of sending this one away, it’s not a problem.


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