In the search of bubbles
A photographer friend pointed out to me that not too far away, in the Kootenay Plains, a photographic winter juwel would lie and if I already had been there: Abraham Lake. I had not heard of the lake, but after a bit of research and seeing some amazing photos I was hooked and wanted to check it out. What makes Abraham Lake so special in winter?
Bubbles, frozen bubbles...
An amazing and very photogenic phenomenon. Why does Abraham lake feature so many of them and what are they?
Well, these bubbles are not air bubbles, they are frozen methane bubbles. Methane bubbles form on the bottom of the lake as dead organic matter, such as leaves and animals that have fallen into the lake, decays with the help of bacteria. That happens to any lake though, in very small amounts. Abraham Lake as well as Lake Minnewanka and Vermillion Lake are artificial lakes, created by damming.
Hence there is much more vegetation and other organic matter from the former ecosystems to decompose.
The methane bubbles then come up from the bottom of the lake and if the temperatures are cold enough, freeze on their way up, forming these interesting column shaped bubble formations.
Strong winds coming through the valley and a dry climate provide an often clear swept surface that makes it easy to spot the bubbles.
Since January/February is the best time to see the bubbles, usually..., we booked a room in the cozy Aurum Lodge for the long Valentines weekend. The Aurum Lodge is a small eco-lodge located right at the lake and the hosts are very photographer friendly with flexible meal times (i.e. breakfast long after sunrise and dinner after sunset).
Armed with Darwin Wiggetts eBook : Kootenay Plains & Abraham Lake Winter Edition I felt prepared for the bubble hunt.
Only that winter this year had already left...;-) Alan, the lodge host, explained, that bubble formations were visible only for a very short period at the end of December. Then the weather warmed up as it did here and the water melted in most parts.
Bummer, but contrary to the weather forecast, we had clear skies and quite nice sunrises
In the night from Friday to Saturday it had snowed a bit and everything was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow, add the warm morning light and you have a happy photographer!
And now we have a good reason to go back!