An icy walk through Maligne Canyon: Sheri Landry


Jasper, AB – From icing a cake to walking on ice, Sheri Landry of Edmonton is up to the challenge. As the creator of the popular This Bird’s Day web page featuring advice, antidotes and recipes, Sheri keeps pretty busy.  And, her Instagram site (Thisbirdsday) is full of inspirational photos – great for scrolling though on your coffee break. When she wants to unplug, she’s off to Jasper National Park with her camera and her hiking gear.

Zen: Do you get out to Jasper often?

Sheri: We get to Jasper at least four times a year. Every time I go, it seems it’s mandatory for me to stop at Maligne Canyon. There are so many different hikes to pick from that vary in degrees of difficulty so there is something new every time. I don’t like to be cold so I have to say that visiting the canyon in the summer is my favourite time. But the winter offers such a different landscape. Maligne in the winter is very calming and peaceful. It’s so big and majestic yet so silent. And there are no crowds.

Zen: Do you visit the canyon with a guide or go by yourself?

Sheri: I like going on my own but sometimes a guide points out things I would have missed on my own. For instance, our guide on the ice walk took out a little camping cup and reached for water that has been trickling all the way from Medicine Lake all winter. It's the coldest crispest water I have ever drank. It was so delicious.

Zen: Do you use DSLR or smartphone?

Sheri: Mostly I shoot with DSLR. I’m not an expert so I take up to ten shots to get the setting just right. When I’m alone it’s great, I take my time and set up properly but on a guided trip, I don’t want to hold everyone up. When I’m with a group I try to plan my settings ahead of time. I knew I’d have a challenge with the bright snow and ice verses the dark rock and trees, so I took my time and strayed from the group to try to relax and get the shot I wanted. Then I grabbed my smartphone for my Twitter and Instagram shots.

Zen: You sent us a funny photo of guys sliding down the steps on the trail on their bellies. What was that all about?

Sheri: Taking a picture is faster than dragging out a frozen pen or stopping to jot down words so when I’m out hiking – the camera turns into my note pad. I take a lot of photos that are never meant for publication but to remind me the sights, the sounds and the tastes. I look at the picture of the guide reaching for the water and it reminds me of the water and wakes up my taste buds. I take pictures of signs so I don’t have to look up the information later. And that picture of the guides sliding down the trail reminds me how much fun they were. You can see how the other hikers were laughing and enjoying the antics.

Zen: What was your favourite picture of the day?

Sheri: The canyon is a haven for ice climbers. The guy with the red pack rappelling down the ice was totally unaware that I was taking his photo so I liked that I caught him fully absorbed in his element.

Zen: I like the photo of the overhang with the dripping water. How did you line that shot up?

Sheri: It’s funny, I was trying to get a picture of the ice hanging over the ledge and this lady was taking her time getting out of my view and then I realized how important she was for the shot. Without the person, the enormity of the scene is lost. That ledge could be a few feet and it could be hand-sized icicles. With that person, it brings it all into perspective.


Zen: Why is Maligne Canyon so important to you.

Sheri: Walking through there is such a freeing experience. With the internet on our smartphones we think we have the world at our fingertips. We get sucked into this little bubble because we’ve got everyone out there, but when I get out on the hike, I get centred. I remember I’m a little person, surrounded by nature and rushing water. I love being outside.

Zen: Any advice for budding photographers?

Sheri: If you know you are heading out at night or into intense lighting like at Maligne Canyon, quickly check online to see what the pros suggest. Go straight to the settings they suggest and then work the settings up and down from there. It’s digital…have fun with it.

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