In September, the air is refreshingly crisp and the aspen forests of the foothills of the Rockies are ablaze with golden foliage. This is the season of the moose when 400-kilogram bulls challenge each other for the right to breed. Every year, in the front range of the mountains, less than 200 kilometers from Calgary, moose gather in frost-encrusted meadows to reenact this primordial spectacle. As well, roadside grizzlies and black bears are fattening for hibernation, bighorn sheep are sleek and winter-ready, and bull trout are spawning.
For naturalist Wayne Lynch, the moose is the most impressive animal in the Rocky Mountains. It is the largest member of the deer family but surprisingly difficult to glimpse, let alone to observe its intimate courtship behaviour. In mid-September, in the open meadows of Spray Valley, Peter Lougheed, and Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Parks, it's possible to watch moose on many mornings materialize out of the mist. There are huge bulls with racks spanning two metres and weighing 27 kilograms, cows in heat, juveniles and calves, all sloshing together in the mud and willows. At times, as many as a dozen moose may gather at the same location. Add to this exciting scene the blush of a golden sunrise as it paints the surrounding peaks and you have a wildlife spectacle not to be forgotten. Accommodation throughout will be at the Mount Engadine Lodge.