Friday, May 21, 2010

Deep, Cold and Beautiful: It's Lake Louise in May

At this time of year, visitors arriving in the town of Banff and Banff National Park tend to be really baffled by the weather. It's sunny one moment and snowing sideways the next. Understandably, they're confused. There's a huge amount of variation in our temperature and snow pack, due to our immense size. Of course, elevation plays a huge part in this equation but basically it's pretty simple. Low elevation = warmer temps, no snow, leaves coming out. Higher elevation = snowy, cold and slower to melt. It's May and this is spring in the Rockies.

I frequently tell our visitors,
"It's Spring time in Banff and Winter in Lake Louise" and they look at me really befuddled. You try and explain it to them, but they just don't get it. After all, it can be sunny and warm and-oh-so-spring-like in our fine little mountain town.

They need to see it, to understand it.

They arrive with a vengeance in their RV's, with their backpacks and tents, in their flip-flops and t-shirts and are eager to hike and to camp. In particular, they want to hike and camp at Lake Louise.

They ask:
"Are there mosquitoes at the campground in Lake Louise?"
Heck, no. It's frequently below zero here in the Canadian Rockies. It's too damn cold for mosquitoes in May.
"Can I canoe in Lake Louise?" Certainly, you can. Just not in May. "Why not?"

That's when I have to break it to them.

Why not? Well, that's because it's frozen. In May and well into June, Lake Louise is frozen. I repeat, it's frozen. The iconic turquoise waters of Lake Louise are frozen under ice about 8 1/2 months of the year.

Like I said, you need to see it, to
get it.

Here's a picture of me on my run on Monday evening.

Aaaah. Sweetness. Warm spring air. Can't you just smell it? The smells of spring, moist and earthy everywhere.

Here's another picture of me on my run on Wednesday night:

WOW! Isn't it gorgeous? Clearly, it MUST be spring, yes?

You can understand why visitors don't believe me, when I break the bad news to them. How can it be spring in Banff and winter in Lake Louise?

Sadly, I'm sorry, it's true: Lake Louise is
frozen. Solid. Icy. Yes. True. Sorry. Get it?

Here's a picture of me today, looking down on Lake Louise.

I repeat, it's frozen.

Aaaah. Beautiful. Crisp, cool and clear air. Fresh. White. Lovely.
But, different - yes?

Deep, Cold and Beautiful - Lake Louise, Alberta

Here's the pictures from today's run, I enjoyed an adventure in the heart of the Lake Louise area. It was a great day, complete with gale force winds off the glaciers, mountain goats and lots of post-holing. It's spring in the Rockies.

The Bow River Valley

Mirror Lake

Lake Agnes

Lake Louise, as seen from the Highline Trail

Mountain Goats

Lake Louise, as seen from the Plains of Six Glaciers Trail

The trail ends here.


Although my photos may look winter-like, there were so many signs of spring to enjoy and take in. The plants emerging from the earth, the waterfalls flowing, the smaller lakes beginning to break up and the massive avalanche debris that finally, obstructed my journey. The mountain goats were working hard, digging in that hard frozen place - grazing and feeding.

As I descended back towards Lake Louise and back into the sub-alpine, I cruised by an avalanche chute that was alive with the signs of spring. Shrubs beginning to leaf, water flowing, grass emerging from the earth and jeeeeezus, what's that? A fuzzy little grizzly bear cub in the middle of it, not 20 metres off the trail. Crap. I stopped dead in my tracks, looking for Mama - but I didn't see a thing. No prints in the snow or earth, no signs anywhere, just a real live grizzly bear cub. I got out my bear spray, took off the safety and just kept running. Looking over my shoulder, of course.

When I reached the back of the lake, I got another nice surprise. Where the spring water was beginning to flow, from glacier, to snow, to stream, to lake - the ice had broken up. And Lake Louise revealed herself to me, with a glimpse of her turquoise waters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Running Week in Photos

Lake Minnewanka - C-level Viewpoint


Mount Inglismaldie

Riding the coal train - Lower Bankhead

Swingin' - Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake

Sulphur Ridge line: as seen from Mount Rundle

Asphalt sucks. It was short.

Mount Rundle

Tail end of 7 hours

Angela cruisin' Lake Minnewanka

Nikki and Monica

Single track


Spring Break-Up!

Buh-bye Ice


It's Cold.

Quad Soak.


Happy Nikki!

Nikki, Monica, Mike - 20k in the middle of nowhere

Nikki, Monica and Me

Dry Creek

Over There!!

River Run - Bow and Cascade

Five Finger Fun

Home Sweet Home :)