Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lake Louise

After staying the night of July 9 in Canmore we had an early start and headed up the Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper, ending the day in Mount Robson Provincial Park (British Columbia).  We stopped at Lake Louise and were there before 7:00 am, but the crowds soon descended and we moved on.  The parks were both very busy and though we stopped at a number of scenic turnouts we did not linger much, neither of us caring much for the crowds.  We had all our meals along the way using our own gear and provisions, but did stop briefly in the town of Jasper for an iced coffee.  We spent that night at a rest area near the Mount Robson headquarters (our van is fitted out for sleeping when we are traveling) with plans to hike at least a part of the Berg Lake trail the next day.

Driving from Canmore to Lake Louise we made a few stops for photos.
The river is the Bow but the mountain peaks I've not identified.

At Lake Louise we hiked along the north shore of the lake,
photographing the surrounding peaks and the lake itself and enjoying the walk.
 As is evident from the pictures, the weather was a bit changeable.
The lake is very beautiful but far too busy during the tourist season for our tastes.

The Lake Louise Fairmont is a huge hotel on the lake and one of the reasons it is so busy.

 My wife found and photographed some Yellow Columbine along the lake,
but that was about all we found in flower.

 Leaving Lake Louise we decided to go to Moraine Lake in the same area,
but found it even busier and did not stop.
We did stop, however, for some photos of the surrounding mountains.

We also found a field of Bog Orchids along the road, including:

the Tall White Northern Bog Orchis,

the Green Bog Orchis,

and a hybrid of the two, the Estes Rein Orchis.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grassi Lakes Trail

After driving from our campground at Macleod Meadows through the rest of Kootenay National Park the morning of July 8, we headed south to Canmore and hiked the Grassi Lakes trail in the mountains above Canmore.   The trail had been recommended by a friend as a good place to see native orchids and we found five different species, but enjoyed the hike for other the wonderful views of the valley below, the lakes, the other wildflowers, and the simply joy of being out and hiking, though the day was very hot and dry.  We could almost smell the heat but had plenty of water and sunscreen along, so we did not suffer unduly.

The trail begins near a reservoir which continues to be part of the view as the trail climbs.
The town of Canmore is also in view.

The first part of the trail, however, in in the trees.
It was there we saw most of the orchids:

Frog Orchid or Long-bracted green Orchis,

Large Northern Yellow Lady's Slipper,

Sparrow's-egg Lady's Slipper
(the only one's we saw on this trip, since most were finished),

Small Round-leaf Orchis,
an orchid that is not found in Washington state,

a few Blunt-leafed Rein Orchis,

and some Estes Hybrid Rein Orchis.

There is a spectacular waterfall along the trail but it seems to be unnamed.

There were not a lot of wildflowers blooming, but we found and photographed a few:

a yellow Composite that I haven't identified,

Gold Columbine,

 Wood Lily,

 Harsh Paintbrush,

Common Butterwort, a carnivorous plant,
in one place growing with the Small Round-leaf Orchis,

and Death Camas.

The higher we went the more spectacular were the views down the valley.

At the top of the trail were Lower Grassi Lake and its outlet;

and Upper Grassi Lake, separated from the lower lake by only a few feet of elevation.

The trail continues above the lakes and along a sheer cliff where climbers were practicing.

Not far from where we saw the climbers there were some old Indian pictographs,
but they were nearly obscured.

The views continued to be spectacular as we followed the trail up to its end.

We followed a service road and another trail down,
and treated ourselves to an iced coffee at Starbucks back in Canmore.