Bow Lake and Peyto Lake

Bow Lake and Peyto Lake are popular and beautiful stops on the IceFields Parkway north of Lake Louise.  They are two more of the glacial fed lakes of varying shades of blue-green-aqua.  The glaciers grind the rocks down to a fine powder called rock flour which is washed into the lakes by the meltwater.  The silty water absorbs all of the colors of incoming light except the turquoise and blue of the sky that are reflected back to our eyes.  Thus the colors of the lakes that we see change with the color of the sky.

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake

Marmot on the trail to Bow Falls


Trail to Bow Glacier Falls that feeds Bow Lake

Bow Glacier, Bow Falls, and Bow Lake with blue sky

Threatening weather over Bow Lake

Num-Ti-Jah lodge, lake view

Crowfoot Glacier over Bow Lake, cloudy sky

Peyto Lake

Peyto Glacier

Peyto Lake from a short walk to the high viewpoint

Peyto Glacier and Lake

Below is a photo of the alluvial fan where meltwater from the Peyto Glacier washes the rock flour into Peyto lake, causing the beautiful aqua color.

Alluvial fan at Peyto Lake

Categories: Banff National Park | Leave a comment

Week of Sept 3-8

We have had a week of off and on clouds, rain, mist, snow, but finally on our fourth and final day hike in the Lake O’Hara region, Friday weather was dry, sunny, and overall stupendous.  As you may recall, only 42 day hikers are allowed into the region each day to keep it pristine and lovely for generations. It is refreshing to be away from the crowds at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in order to experience the beauty and awesomeness of nature.  We are transported up the 11 kilometer (6.48 mile) road by the yellow limousines.

Buses to Lake O’Hara

We arrive by bus at the day shelter on the shores of Lake O’Hara.

Le Relais Day Shelter at Lake O’Hara

Lake O’Hara in early morning

Morning reflections at Lake O’Hara

Frosty trees as the sun comes over the cliff on the trail

Snack break on Opabin Plateau trail

Unnamed lake on Opabin Plateau

Opabin Plateau

Opabin Plateau above Lake O’Hara

Mary Lake (left) and Lake O’Hara (right) taken from above on Opabin Prospect

Trail down from Opabin Prospect along the cliff

Lake O’Hara in the afternoon

Earlier in the week, we moved to Kicking Horse campground in Yoho for a couple of nights.  We were lucky to receive a campsite right along the rushing Kicking Horse River – what a sound to listen to while falling asleep!

Our Kicking Horse campsite

Kicking Horse River by our campsite

The Kicking Horse campground was originally the campground for the workers who built the spiral tunnels for the trains traveling through the steep Kicking Horse Canyon.

We were lucky to see a long train going through the tunnels.  Note the train going in the upper tunnel and the red engine coming out the lower tunnel in the photo below.

Train in the spiral tunnels

Kicking Horse river and valley in the early morning

Emerald Lake

We did a hike from Emerald Lake to Emerald Basin.  It was a rather unremarkable hike except for the young couple from Boston who requested to join us.  They were uncomfortable with the heavy vegetation on the trail including many types of berries – bears love berries!  They were a delightful couple (a software engineer and a bio-medical research scientist) and full of energy.

Emerald Basin trail with our hiking companions from Boston

Emerald Basin

The other enjoyable feature of this trail was the marmots.  On many trails we hear the marmots whistling and see them briefly, but once they hear us and before we can photograph them they run back into their holes.  These marmots in the basin were smaller but willing to hang around to have their picture taken.

Marmot in Emerald Basin

Marmot in Emerald Basin

Mid-week we made a 334 mile round trip to Canadian Glacier National Park and Revelstoke National Park further west into British Columbia.  We did not have time to do any hikes, but just saw these highlights.

Rogers Pass is in the middle of Glacier Ntl Pk and a high avalanche area.  The trains run mostly underground through tunnels, but avalanche sheds are built in many places over the highway to keep Trans Canada #1 open.

Avalanche shed over the highway

The park service and the military partner to use 105mm Howitzers to break up pending avalanches to keep Highway 1 clear in winter.

105mm Howitzers to start avalanches before they block the highway

The town of Revelstoke was very quaint with several blocks of boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.  We wish we had more time to explore it.

Grizzly bear statue family welcoming visitors to Revelstoke

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Mount Revelstoke is in the Columbia Mountains, not as high or dry as the Rockies.  There is a rain forest zone and a snow forest zone.

Columbia Mountain chain from the top of Mt. Revelstoke

It was an interesting drive over and back through rain, sun, and fog.

We’ve posted on this blog today while listening to the MN Golden Gophers post a football victory!  Go Gophers!

Categories: Yoho National Park | 4 Comments

Eiffel Lake Trail

First of all, a big shout-out to Molly KJ Stern and her new class of 4th graders for a fun and studious new school year that begins tomorrow!

In our last post we mentioned that we were planning the hike to Eiffel Lake for Sunday (it is another of our favorites), but had some apprehension as we needed to be in a group of 4 to deter the female grizzly bears and their cubs which live in the area (or face a $5000 fine per person!).  It is difficult to find just the right group of people who don’t go too fast and also want to take frequent breaks or stop for photos as we do.  Yesterday, we were fortunate to accompany a delightful mix of hikers and also experienced weather we have never had before on this trail.

The 5.8 mile hike with 1210 feet of elevation gain begins at beautiful Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks.  These photos were taken a few days earlier on a partly cloudy day.

Moraine Lake

Part of the Ten Peaks

Fay Glacier above Moraine Lake

The weather forecast for Sunday was partly cloudy clearing to sunny.  Saturday evening we had more rain.  As we drove to the trailhead Sunday morning, we discovered what had been rain in the campground was snow in the higher elevations.  All of the mountains around us were snow covered – beautiful!

Bear restrictions warning to hike in a tight pack of 4

Waiting at the trailhead were a threesome – a father and daughter from the Italian Alps and her husband originally from the UK.  They agreed they were not in a rush and would hike at our pace.  We had a delightful time with them.  The 66 year old father lives, hikes, and skis in the Alps.  He told us it is much easier to get above the treeline in the Alps because the treeline is much lower. His daughter and her husband come to the Rockies about every 5 years because  the Rockies are so much more wild than the Alps.  They have traveled extensively in the US and Canada, lived in New York for four years, and now live in Belgium.

Hiking companions on the Larch Valley/Eiffel Lake trail

These wonderful hikers got us up through the switchbacks of the steep elevation climb to where the trail splits.  They headed on to Sentinel Pass (the highest pass in the Canadian Rockies) which we have done in previous years, and so we waited for a group to come by heading to Eiffel Lake.  After a short wait, a group of 11 Koreans from Vancouver, BC let us accompany them.  Only a couple of them spoke English, and thus we didn’t find out as much about their group.

Hiking with a large group in the Valley of the 10 Peaks

Fay Glacier from Eiffel Lake Trail with Moraine Lake below

Note that there is a bit more snow on the peaks in the photo above than in the earlier photo of Fay Glacier taken just a couple of days ago.

Trail to Eiffel Lake with the group

Dj in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Eiffel Lake trail

This was our destination, a small alpine lake – Eiffel Lake.

Eiffel Lake

Wenkchemna Pass is the valley in the background of the photo below and is beyond Eiffel Lake.  We hiked to there in our youth (1981), but the extra 4 3/4  miles and 1266 feet of elevation gain are a bit more than we wanted on this trip.  On the other side of the pass is British Columbia and the Lake O’Hara region.

Wenkchemna Pass

Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass

These 4 French speaking young (fast!) hikers from British Columbia were kind enough to accompany us back to the trail divide.  The man in yellow is actually a mountain climber.  They were kind and waited for us.

French Canadians on Eiffel Lake trail

On the Eiffel Lake/Valley of the 10 Peaks trail

We made it back safely and without seeing any bears.  The weather and the setting made for an awesome day!  We are so thankful to the hikers who paired up with us, and although we have been looking forward to this trail that we love, we are relieved to have it over, due to the pressure of having to be in a group.  The rest of the hikes we have planned do not have bear restrictions.

Categories: Banff National Park | 4 Comments

Lake McArthur

After today, we are 1/2 done with this wonderful trip.  This past week has gone a bit differently than originally planned, mostly due to the weather.  It’s always good to be flexible, and we are so lucky to have extra days to work around.  It rained all morning today including pea size hail.  We noticed snow up in the Lake Louise ski area as we drove to the village today.  It also rained all night Wednesday with marble size hail.

Monday we returned to the Lake O’Hara region to do our favorite hike to our favorite place, Lake McArthur.  The day was overall disappointing due to a fire in Kootenay National Park which caused a smokey haze in all of the mountain valleys here.  We have been to Lake McArthur before and know how spectacularly blue and beautiful the setting is.  Thus we were disappointed in the views and our photos that day.

Yesterday, Friday, we had another day reserved in the Lake O’Hara region.  It was a glorious sunny, brilliant blue sky, and cool mountain day.  We had to go back to Lake McArthur to experience it in all it’s glory.  The setting is in an alpine valley surrounded by mountain peaks, and it feels like heaven!  For the most part, any other hikers there are stunned by the beauty and respect the quiet and serenity of the scene.  We wish we could capture the awesomeness of the setting and the brilliant blue of the lake to show you in the photos.  We have included a few from both Monday and Friday.

The trail from Lake O’Hara to Lake McArthur is so interesting and varied.  There is a short part through open forest and then alternating scramble over the “Devil’s Rockpile and the Big Larch trees. (Some of you remember we planted larch trees at our St Louis Park and Minnetonka homes after a visit here.  They are known as Tamaracks in MN).  The trail opens up to small Shaeffer Lake and a meadow, then up over another a big boulder/larch area, a rock scramble, narrow passages through cliffs, one long last climb up and over a crest to the first views of the beautiful lake.  What fun!

Can you find Doug? (look in the middle by the big tree)

Big Larch Trail

Devil’s Rockpile

Shaeffer Lake

Through the boulders on Lk McArthur trail

Tight squeeze up the side of a cliff on Shaeffer Mtn.

Views from Lake McArthur highline trail

1st View of Lake McArthur from the trail

Lake McArthur

As we arrived at the lake on the hazy day

Lake McArthur in haze

Taken on the hazy day by a lovely woman, Paula, from Texas

The BLUE of Lake McArthur on a sunny day!

At Lake McArthur

View of Mt. Odaray as we leave Lake McArthur

Views of Lake O’Hara on the return trip

Lake O’Hara in the afternoon as we reached the end of the Lake McArthur trail – a beautiful welcome back!

Midweek we  made a quick trip to Banff for supplies and a bit of shopping.  We love the townsite of Banff, even though it has become busier and more commercial, it is still neat, quaint, in a majestic setting, and has the most gorgeous large flowers everywhere.  We’ll stay there for a few days later, but have to share a couple photos now.

Cascade Mtn behind the town of Banff – viewed from the grocery store!

Street-side flowers, Banff

There are even flowers at the gas station!

Tomorrow we plan to hike to Eiffel Lake from Moraine Lake.  The bear restrictions require us to be in a tight pack of 4, so we hope we can find another two people who hike at our pace (slow but relentless) and that the rain goes away.

Categories: Yoho National Park | 6 Comments

Oh Canada!

We are enjoying sending you these photos of our adventures here in the Canadian Rockies.  In Jasper we were able to get free wifi access at the Parks Canada building, but providing that service is not uniform throughout the parks.  Thus there is nothing free here in Lake Louise!  We have chosen to purchase wifi and update the blog periodically.  Thus we have done several posts today regarding the past week.  Today (Sunday) is truly our day of rest!

We haven’t figured out how to include a list of archived posts by date or category which would make it easier for you to search, but we’ll keep working on it.

We love receiving your comments and emails regarding the blog, so keep them coming.

Categories: Banff National Park | 4 Comments

Lake Louise and the Big Beehive

Saturday we did the hike to the top of the Big Beehive which is the small mountain to the right of Lake Louise. The trail travels first to Lake Agnes where there is a popular teahouse, around the lake and then up many switchbacks to the flat top of the beehive.

Lake Louise in the morning

The Big Beehive is the rounded peak to the right above the trees.

Lake Agnes

We climbed 1700 vertical feet to reach the top of Big Beehive

On top of Big Beehive, Victoria Glacier in the background

Note the dots on the lake which look like ants but are really canoes.

Lake Louise from the top of the Big Beehive

Lake Louise and Chateau from top of Big Beehive

Back down to Lake Louise – the color of all of these glacial lakes changes so with the sun.

Lake Louise in the afternoon

Categories: Banff National Park | Leave a comment

Lake O’Hara and Lake Oesa

Lake O’Hara is a region of Yoho National Park that the park service is trying to protect and keep pristine for future generations.  Thus only a few people are allowed into the area each day – reservations for the lodge must be made a year in advance and reservations to ride the bus into the Lake O’Hara region for a day hike must be made 3 months in advance.  We are lucky to be among those allowed in for 4 visits on this trip!  Our first visit was this past Thursday for a hike from Lake O’Hara to Lake Oesa.

Words just can’t describe the beauty and the grandeur of this area.  We will let the photos tell the story.

Morning at Lake O’Hara

Lake O’Hara

Trail to Lake Oesa from Lake O’Hara

Looking back to Lake O’Hara from the trail to Lake Oesa

Lake Oesa

Lunch at Lake Oesa

Lake Oesa

Can you believe these colors!

Leaving Lake Oesa

Heather and flowers on the trail

Lake O’Hara in the afternoon

End of the trail at Lake O’Hara

Categories: Yoho National Park | 1 Comment

Moraine Lake

These are the colors that we came to see!  The color of Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks just can’t be described.

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

We did a short hike on Wednesday to Consolation Lakes which required us to be in a group of 4 to deter the grizzly bears in the area.  We met 2 lovely ladies who partnered with us.

Consolation Lakes trail

Consolation Lakes Trail

Categories: Banff National Park | Leave a comment

IceFields Parkway

Tuesday we traveled the IceFields Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise.  The highway is aptly named as there are glaciers and snow-capped peaks at every turn.  The highlight of the drive was Sunwapta Falls, another very powerful and deep fall of the Athabasca River into a deep gorge.  Awesome is going to be an overused word in this blog but it really is!  The fence allowed us to get right down close to the churning water, mist, and spray.

Sunwapta Falls

Kj in the mist of Sunwapta Falls

Churning Athabasca River going over Sunwapta Falls

Dj at top of Sunwapta Falls

We started the day in low clouds which felt very mysterious.

Early morning south of Jasper

Icefields Parkway in the cloud

We didn’t take the snowcoach tour on the Columbia Icefield as we have done that before, but stopped for a few photos.

Columbia Icefield

Categories: Jasper | 2 Comments

Water and more water

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will leave Jasper heading down south (& up in elevation) to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake areas of Banff NP and Kicking Horse canyon and Lake O’Hara in Yoho NP in BC. These are our favorite areas where we plan to do several of our most favorite hikes.  If the wifi at the park office there is like the wifi we have here in Jasper, it’s quite slow to write these posts and load photos.  So we’ll try to stay in touch, but might be spotty.

My dear cousin Jim gave us a bit of grief regarding our header photo not being very rustic looking, so we wanted to share a couple of photos of our Jasper campsite.

Jasper campsite

Here are a few photos from the past few days.  We hiked through Maligne Canyon where the water was gushing and we were able to see one of our favorite lacy falls flowing (it was pretty dry the last time we were here).  Then we did the short walk around Athabasca Falls which is so powerful and beautiful because of the glacial silt filled water.  Lastly is a photo we took this morning of Patricia Lake with Pyramid Mountain in the background & reflection.

Maligne Canyon

Lacey Falls in Maligne Canyon

I love this Lacey Falls!

Top of Athabasca Falls

Bottom of Athabasca Falls

Athabasca River at the end of the falls

Pyramid Mountain over Patricia Lake

Categories: Jasper | 2 Comments

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