Herbert Lake in Rebound
I get up at 04:40 for a sunrise visit to Herbert Lake. As expected, weather is exactly the same as I have left it yesterday. Complete overcast and low hanging clouds. Sadly, I have not seen any of the famous mountain tops since I have been here. There are some nice reflections in the lake though, despite the blanket of clouds. No spectacular colors but nice saturated shades of green in foggy surroundings.
I still have the Grizzly-closeup photographs in my mind, the other photographer showed me yesterday evening. So, as soon as I am finished here at Herbert Lake, I continue to Bow Lake a bit further down the road. No bears are to be seen anywhere here. I continue a little further down the road to photograph a nice mountain panorama.
On the way back I stop at a very scenic little waterfall I spotted earlier on the way to Bow Lake. The foggy atmosphere is perfect for waterfall photography.
A closer look reveals the lush vegetation and the sparkling water.
After this subject has been exhausted completely I drive back in the direction of Herbert Lake and beyond. Earlier this morning I had spotted a small pond with crystal clear reflections of the surrounding trees.
The vivid green colors are a joy for they eye.
After this short shoot I return to the chateau and get some additional sleep. I sleep between 07:30 and 10:00. This feels SO GOOD after the early wake-up and walking around for a couple of hours in the early morning cold.
Famous Lake Louise
Now I am awake again, I am not sure what to do. The cloud base keeps hanging low and this is not good for sunrise nor sunset photography. I can start driving to other places but weather is most likely going to be the same overthere. I take a walk along the shore of Lake Louise. I am able to make some surprisingly good photographs of the stones just under the surface, the vivid blue water of the lake and a part of the shore and mountains on the other side.
The water itself is photogenic as well and provides an opportunity to…
… photograph some colorful patterns of water and varying the polarizer…
… results in three completely different photographs of the same piece of water.
For a while, I have been playing with the idea to hike the Trail of the Six Glaciers. A trail of aproximately 5.5 kilometers single route. I am a bit afraid that that walk is going to be in vain because of the low cloud base. Would be a pity to walk uphill and back that distance just to see only trees.
I worry a bit about Grizzlies also, because a woman told me this morning she had seen a mother with two cubs on this trail yesterday. She had to circumvent a lot to stay out of their way. Warnings about not walking alone here are abundant. I wait for a while to see if others go up there but finally decide to let it go.
I thought that Moraine Lake would be best for photography in the afternoon, but I have made a mistake here. Moraine Lake is also an early morning location because of its orientation. The mountains are facing east and are lighted in the morning only. From late afternoon they are in the shade. It seems to be better to continue and visit these surroundings again in a few weeks time, hopefully in better weather.
Vivid Shades of Blue at Peyto Lake
Next destination on the schedule is Jasper National Park, a little over 230 kilometers further down the road. Chances are that the weather is better overthere because of the distance from this mess. Just earlier this morning I thought otherwise, but now this seems to be a better alternative than sticking around here where weather will stay the same for days. This way, I can cover the north part of this trip completely and continue to the United States, directly from there.
After a few miles I spot a bear crossing the road. I am not completely sure, but think it is a brown bear (Grizzly). It can be a brown colored black bear as well. As I have seen only black bears sofar, I am not sure how to distinguish them, right now. Shortly after that, I spot a pair of black bears playing on the side of the road.
They are difficult to photograph because they often are hidden behind the trees.
Just before I commence the major part of this drive I stop and visit beautiful Peyto Lake. The vivid color of this lake is really amazing. HDR processing is a necessity to retain the authentic color of the water and have sufficient detail in the sky.
On photographs I have seen before, the colors are always a kind of alien blue. By fiddling with the lighting, I make sure that the colors I have, are as accurate as possible. It is honestly the most beautiful shade of blue I have ever seen in nature. Almost unbelievable.
By moving a bit more to the right it is possible to photograph the glacial moraine, together with the stream of milky white glacial water flowing into the lake.
Zooming in a bit further reveals the vivid colors even more and provides a closer look onto the influx of glacial water.
Walking back to the car I talk to a girl from Switserland. She is traveling all alone and has been here already for 7 weeks. She sleeps in her car to save on costs, but parks on campsites for safety reasons. We exchange email addresses and I promise her to send some photographs from Peyto Lake.
The Icefields Parkway
Soon after I follow the spectacular Icefields Parkway to Jasper. There is a lot to see along this beautiful road.
Magnificent view of a valley, looking back to the east, just before reaching the Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls from afar.
A closer look at Bridal Veil Falls by zooming in a bit.
The next stop is at the Athabasca Glacier. A 20 minute walk over the moraine with a little climbing here and there brings me to the tongue of the glacier. You are strongly discouraged to go any further because the imminent danger of collapsing ice. An enormous wall of overhanging ice on the left side, is the first photographic subject I am attracted to.
An overview of the complete glacier needs special processing to have detail in both the clouds and the darker walls but is nice as well.
A panorama provides an even wider view of the glacier which has retreated hundreds of meters during the last decades.
After a while, I continue on the The Icefields Parkway because there is a lot more to see and it is still more than 100 kilometers driving to Jasper. A little further ahead I spot my first Bighorn Sheep in a valley below the road.
The Weeping Wall Falls are marked quite well and very scenic. The warm late afternoon light is reflected beautifully from the orange colored walls.
Many unique photographs can be shot here.
The next waterfall encountered is Sunwapta Falls, but this one does not attract me at all photographically speaking, so I pass it. Soon I arrive at the Kerkeslin Goat Lick area. The hills here contain a salty substance, the goats like to lick from the soil. There are a couple of Mountain Goats and this is one of them.
On the other side of the road, a bit hidden behind the trees is a nice valley with mountains in the back.
Jasper and Maligne Lake
In the town of Jasper it takes a while to find a hotel I like. Luckily, the weather is indeed much better than it was this morning in Lake Louise. Always when I arrive in a new place I can not suppress the urge to ‘see things’. This is a very strong feeling I just have to follow.
I continue to the Maligne Lake Road almost immediately. Maligne Lake is well known for a very photogenic little island with some trees on it, Spirit Island. Visiting this little gem on the other end of the lake has been commercialized completely. If you want to stay a bit longer to return with the next boat, you pay double.
The only alternative is to rent a canoe and paddle for 20 kilometers or more and back. Apart from a lot of work this will cost a lot of money as well. The commercial visits stop early in the afternoon which is a pity as well. I think I will reserve this visit for some future trip but do want to see Maligne Lake.
As almost everything here, the lake is a bit further than I expected it to be. It was already late in the afternoon when I departed and halfway I guess that I will not be able to finish the 44 kilometers well before dark.
A Perfect Threesome
Suddenly, I am just shocked by seeing the perfect photo. Three bighorn sheep are laying side by side close to the road along Lake Medicine, basking in the warm afternoon sun. It really is a perfect photograph. Very strong composition and good natural lighting. The road is very narrow and there is no space to park. I continue for a few hundred meters but decide I just must take this photograph. I find a spot where I can turn the car, prepare the camera and drive back.
The composition has been ruined already, because not all sheep have their heads in the same position anymore and even the warm light of the sun has already started to fade away. The sheep that has turned away it’s head was lying between the other two, the first time I passed them. Their heads where very close together at the time.
I quickly stop the car in the middle of the road and shoot some portraits of the sheep, that is the closest to the car.
Still some very good photographs, if you ask me. I am really happy with it. I never expected to be able to shoot this type of photographs here.
Now, it is sure that I will not get in time at Maligne Lake, so I decide to drive back to the hotel. A couple of kilometers further, I spot a black bear beside the road. I stay a while and try to photograph it. This is difficult because light levels are already low and the bear is with his snout in the grass constantly.
At 23:30 I am back in the hotel and fall asleep almost immediately.
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file here.