On a day when it was thought that Parks Canada was going to announce caribou closures in Jasper National Park, the rarely-glimpsed species made an appearance which viewers of the scene could hardly believe.
As the Paradise Chair unloaded the first of Marmot Basin's guests December 17, ski patroller Kate Ryan pointed in the distance.
"Caribou, caribou!" She exclaimed. "Look, they're running up the slope!"
Heads turned to watch a group of mountain caribou prance up the slope known as T-Bar Ridge. The animals bounded through the snow, disappearing over the side of the mountain into Whistlers Creek.
Half an hour earlier, other members of Marmot Basin's staff spotted the caribou in the Charlie's Bowl area of the ski hill. As the resort was just opening to the public, staff members took efforts to ensure the caribou weren't disturbed.
"No member of our team was within 100 metres of the caribou," said Marshall Dempster, who helped direct what little ski traffic there was away from the immediate area. "We allowed the caribou time to move out of the area on their own."
The animals moved into a north-facing bowl known as Outer Limits, which is in Marmot Basin's leasehold but rarely opened for skiing. The drainage below, known as Whistlers Creek, is believed to be slated for closure as part of Parks Canada's ongoing caribou conservation measures. Parks Canada has not announced any details as of Wednesday.
Stay tuned to thejasperlocal.com as details develop.