Friday, October 16, 2015

Wonderfall Part 2

Larch Valley

After that amazing hike to Lake Agnes, I just could not get enough of the parks larch color. There was another recommended larch hike, this time to the aptly named Larch Valley that I really wanted to explore and photograph. The weather promised to be wonderful and this time I could convince my husband to come with me.

We stayed at the Moraine Lake Lodge and after a beautiful sunrise over the lake and a good breakfast, Oliver took off to play the Banff Springs Golf Course and I headed to the trail head.
The hike starts at the shore of Moraine Lake, but due to a big grizzly population in the area a minimum of four hikers is required to do the hike.

Since I wanted to go in the morning and the majority of the people tend to go up in the afternoon, I was a bit nervous if I would find some hiking companions and who they would be.
But all worries were in vain since I met a fun foursome from Germany and an enjoyable couple from Calgary.

The beginning of the trail leads through dense forest with the occasional peek down to Moraine Lake. After a few final switchbacks though Larch Valley opens up with a big bang!

Absolute stunning views all the way around. The larches were past their peak and instead of a bright yellow they now showed a more saturated orange...beautiful none the less.

Most of the hikers took a break here and then went back, luckily our group was a bit more ambitious!

We went farther up to a second plateau, to the crest of an ancient lateral moraine of the Wenkchemna Glacier

From here one can continue to Sentinel Pass.

Or rest at a clear little lake at the bottom of the trail. Since it was not windy at all the lake nicely reflected the surrounding mountains and I was in photo and panorama heaven.

Please click on the panoramas to see them in their full size.

Another hike I will have to do again...;-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October Conservation Tip

Keep Jumbo Wild!

Twenty-four years ago, in the middle of a big ski resort boom, a Vancouver architect was looking for the best place on earth to build a new ski resort. He was looking for the perfect location, with the perfect amount of snow fall, perfect views, perfect weather.
He found the perfect dream destination, he found the Jumbo Valley.
The valley though was not his to take, Ktnuaxa people lived there since over 400 generations and it is part of an important international wildlife corridor, one of only two areas in North America where grizzly bears can freely roam between Canada and the U.S.
A huge commerce vs. conservation fight erupted and is going on now for the last 24 years....

Last fall the environmental permit expired, the Jumbo Glacier Resort company had failed to complete the necessary steps to fulfill the permits' requests and the already laid foundations were in a know avalanche zone. Hence the permit was declared expired.

A step closer to the permanent protection of Jumbo Valley, but not a victory yet.
The resort company hopes to renew the permit with a downsized plan.

Patagonia and Sweetgrass Productions made an amazing movie about the topic. The filmmaker and producer don't take sides, they let the people and the landscape speak and lead you to your on conclusion. We watched this movie last week and I was blown away, half crying, half in awe.

The film is now touring Canada and the US. Europe and more will follow.
If you have the chance, please go and watch it, you will not regret it.

Here a short trailer:

To see where the movie is screening next check out Patagonias Jumbo Wild web page and scroll down to the Jumbo Wild tour dates or Patagonias KeepItWild page. Also check out the Jumbo Wild facebook page for updates. I just saw that there is a screening planned on November 17th in Invermere, which is not on  either of the above screening lists.

To say YES to Jumbo WILD and NO to the Jumbo Glacier Resort, sign the Jumbo Wild petition, every vote counts.

Like the bear logo? Patagonia sells T-shirts with this logo, so that you can show your support and $ 5 of each sold T-shirt go to Wildsight, to support them to win the fight.

Wonderfall Part 1

Lake Agnes Teahouse and beyond

The Banff/Lake Louise area put out a new theme for this fall: Wonderfall
They put together the most colorful fall hikes, and after reading through the little brochure they provided, I decided to try a few...
For the first hike, to Lake Agnes, I couldn't have picked a nicer day. Crisp and a bit chilly in the morning but sunny throughout the day. Lake Agnes is a short hike away from the Chateau Lake Louise. After I made it through the masses of people at the shore of Lake Louise, the farther up I went the less people I would see.

Most of the time the trail winds through forest with a very few glimpses down to Lake Louise, but then, about twenty minutes before Lake Agnes, a little lake, Mirror Lake, appears seemingly out of nowhere. I'm not surprised they named it Mirror Lake as it's surface was a smooth as glass!
The Stoney tribe called this lake the "Goat's Looking Glass". In their legend the mountain goats used the lake as a mirror to comb their beards.

Between Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes one looks up to a very prominent "rock", the Big Beehive, again, aptly named. As I glanced up I thought that the view from up there would be terrific. But climbing up there seemed out of the question...little did I know...

The sun was just peeking around the corner of Big Beehive when I finally arrived at Lake Agnes.

The sun hadn't reached the whole valley though. The water was still smooth and I could get a nice reflection. While I was waiting for the sun to fully illuminate the valley I enjoyed a lunch break at the Lake Agnes Teahouse.

While I was sitting there, enjoying their signature apple crumble, very yummy, and a pot of coffee, I talked to my server about the hikes around the area and she suggested a different route to go back....a route that would lead me to the top of the Big Beehive. I must have looked a bit disbelieving as she mentioned the Big Beehive because she assured me right away the the climb up there from the back was not as bad as it may look.

So, around the lake and up the mountain I went.

"Lake in the Clouds" was the lakes' original name, given to the lake by the local Stoney tribe. In 1890 it then was named Lake Agnes, in honor of two notable ladies of the time. One was Lady Susan Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Canada's first prime minister. She was told to be the first (western) women to have traveled to the lake. Unknown to her and her travel party though was that a few days earlier Agnes Knoz, a prominent speaker from Toronto, had visited the lake, too. 
Everybody was kept happy by naming the lake "Lake Agnes"

Here a glance back to the teahouse:

And of course the helpful server was right, the climb was steep but  not as dramatic as I had imagined. Plus the views just got better and better.

View up to the Plain of the Six Glaciers,

and back to the Bow Valley.

Last peek down to Lake Agnes and then, minutes later

Lake Louise, as seen from the top of Big Beehive.

After taking in this amazing view, I descended Big Beehive on the "other" side, with equally amazing views of the surrounding mountains and extensive peeks of Lake Louise.

Almost back down, a view of the the Lake Louise delta.

11 km and 800 m elevation gain later, I was back at the car and one very happy hiker. As I found out later, there is a hike to Lake Agnes including the Plain of the Six Glaciers...I know what I will do next year around this time ;-)