Exploring Banff

On our second day in Banff we had less of a plan for what we were going to do. But, after the less than ideal nature of our visit to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise the day before, we thought we’d get an earlier start and maybe beat the crowds. We grabbed breakfast at our hotel in Canmore and headed toward Lake Louise. Things seemed to be going in our favor as there was very little traffic on our way up the hill and then we reached the intersection of our frustration the day before, it was open, but we couldn’t just turn left. So, we headed up the road a bit further in order to turn around and make the right turn toward Moraine Lake and in the two to three minutes since we’d passed, the road had been closed! Our luck simply was not holding for this goal. We headed down the mountain to turn around at the visitor center and hope in the five minutes or so that it took to make the trip that the road would be open again. Sadly, this was just not our day. After attempting this about three times, we conceded a temporary defeat and parked at Lake Louise to spend some time walking the shore and enjoying yet another of Banff’s beautiful lakes. And thankfully, Lake Louise was a little more cooperative this time around.

While the crowds were a little larger than what we’d hoped for, they were manageable. Most of the people there at that time were definitely in tourist mode. Selfies and selfie sticks and everyone posing for the camera in one fashion or another at least meant I had many of the good spots for actually photographing the lake to myself. I’m not real big on being the subject of the photo, I much prefer to be behind the camera. I’m sure my wife managed to get a shot or two of me in my element, as she usually does.

I could’ve sat on the shore all day trying to capture the lake in a way that really spoke to me, but I also wanted to actually spend time with the family on this excursion, so I caught up with them as they were working their way around the lake and found at least  one more shot along the way.

The color of the water in these glacier fed lakes is always breathtaking and the way the light hits it can really have a dramatic affect on how it looks. I noticed the same thing when we were in Glacier National Park several years ago. And even though I was trying to capture the reflection of the mountains in several shots I took, the color of the water still seems to steal the show. This show was particularly challenging to capture with calm water, as just out of shot is my daughter playing with rocks and throwing lots of them in the lake right in front of me. I’m pretty happy with the end result though.

Once we decided it was time to continue on for the day, we were still holding out some hope that we’d get to head out to Moraine Lake on our way down the mountain, but it just wasn’t going to happen this time. So, we thought we’d finish the Bow Valley Parkway and head down toward Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. It was a fun drive in spite of the sporadic rain and low hanging clouds. As we reached the end of the Bow Valley Parkway, we kept going and took a right back in to the Vermillion Lakes area. If you’re on foot or bike, you can take the trail further, but even in the car you can get to some pretty nice stops where you can walk down to the lakes edge.

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The loop out to Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka was pretty free of crowds when we were there, but the intermittent rain might have helped in that respect. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for the photo opportunities. There was a little bit of wildlife at the lake though and it was pretty clear that these birds knew that humans weren’t much of a threat and probably had something tasty that they would be willing to part with, despite the abundance of signs telling you not to share.

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I’ve yet to identify them, so feel free to do so in the comments if you happen to know.

We’ve been nothing if not persistent in trying to get up to Moraine Lake on this trip and as the day was winding to a close, we gave it one more go. We were able to get there this time, but the rainy weather had brought with it lots of low hanging clouds. So, while we were able to see the beautiful water, the peaks were well hidden.

Having seen a number of amazing photos of this lake, and hoping to capture my own images, I was both in awe of the beauty of this place and disappointed at the conditions. Given the weather, I’d gone up the rock pile on my own to see if it was even worth the trip and even with the limited view, I just couldn’t linger long because I had to go get the family. This was probably the last time we’d be here for quite a while so we had to make the most of it. I told my daughter that if we could get to the top quickly, then she could play in every puddle on the way down. I’d hoped she wouldn’t hold me to it, but if there was a pool of water bigger than her boot, she was in it! It was so much fun, even if the view wasn’t as spectacular as we’d hoped. While I had high hopes of getting some good shots that might be worth selling, this was still a family vacation and having fun together was still the number one priority! Another day had passed, another page in our adventure book had been turned and it was time to head back to the hotel, get some rest and prepare to set off for Jasper National Park and the Icefields Parkway the next morning!

 

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