Posted by: kerryl29 | January 13, 2015

The Canadian Rockies – Day 11: Waterfowl Lakes, Bow Lake, Consolation Lakes Trail and Paradise Creek

At some point in the afternoon of Day 10, Royce mentioned to me that on the following day we were probably going to head southwest, to the Lake Louise area of Banff National Park, to do the Consolation Lakes Trail.  I was thrilled to hear this.  The Consolation Lakes Trail was one of two trails emanating from Morraine Lake that I had wanted to hike when I was in the area (by myself) the previous week that I had to eschew due to the restrictions put into effect because of bear activity in the area.  The rules in place required that, to hike either the Consolation Lakes or Larch Valley trails, you had to be in a group of at least four people.  Since I was by myself, I couldn’t do the hikes.  But our group would have seven people in it (since Alan, co-owner of the lodge we were staying at, would be accompanying us) we easily fulfilled the criteria.  So, I would have the opportunity to experience the Consolation Lakes Trail after all.  This was a very nice, and unanticipated, bonus of being part of the tour.

It’s nearly a 90-minute drive from the lodge to Lake Louise Village (and nearly another half an hour to get to the Morraine Lake parking lot after exiting at Lake Louise from the TransCanada Highway).  The plan was to shoot sunrise at one of the locations along the Icefields Parkway north of Lake Louise and grab any photo opportunities that presented themselves the rest of the way.

As we drove on Highway 11, in the dark, for about 15 minutes we had the opportunity to spot a small pack of black wolves right alongside the highway.  In fact, at least one of the wolves was actually lying down on the roadway as we approached.  After we stopped, he grudgingly joined his three compatriots and sauntered off to the north of the road.  This was the first time I’d seen black wolves in the wild.  (I’d spotted a gray wolf in Japser earlier on the trip.)

The sunrise location was Waterfowl Lakes.  I’d passed this spot on my trip north on the Icefields Parkway, on Day 4;  I hadn’t stopped, as it was raining when I went through the area.  There’s a campground at Waterfowl Lakes, which was closed for the season, so we parked at a gate and made the short walk down to the lake itself.  It was another cold morning–in the upper 20s (F), I’d estimate–and there were signs of ice in some of the small puddles near the lake shore.  It was still dark when we arrived and difficult to scope out the best perspectives, so Royce gave us a thorough description of the lay of the land.

At dawn, it became clear in short order that it was going to be one heck of a nice sunrise that morning.

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

We had almost a perfect confluence of conditions.  You can see the subject matter; that’s Howse Peak to the left and Mt. Chephren just left of center in the frame of the image above.  The snow that had fallen overnight from Day 9 to Day 10 had also coated these mountains very nicely and was still present.  There was scarcely a whisper of wind, making for nearly perfect reflections.  It was possible to take very long exposures–30 seconds or more–and still retain the fruits of the glass-like surface of the lake.  And then there were the clouds…long, beautiful streamer-like lines of clouds, not too thick to prevent the necessary early light from coloring them pink and purple, not too thin to be unsubstantial.  I’d had some nice sunrises on the trip prior to this one, but I’m not sure that I ever had quite this combination of elements.

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

I’d determined, before the light even came up, that the 24-70 wasn’t going to be wide enough to give me quite the coverage that I thought I’d want, so the very first thing I did was switch to the ultra-wide 14-24 mm.  This undoubtedly turned out to be the right call and I’m glad I made it right out of the shoot.  The last thing I wanted to be doing when the light was changing by the second was fiddling around with a lens swap.

This was an example of allowing myself to really try and get a feel for the location.  In my more typical shooting environs, there’s seldom a call for using an ultra-wide angle lens in an open environment.  Doing so almost always involves a combination of introducing unwanted elements into the scene and reducing the influence of the center of interest in an image by appearing to shrink it down to nothing.  But this kind of scene doesn’t exist in the places that I ordinarily shoot.  Thus, I had to set aside my “conventional wisdom” and let the scene dictate the optimal approach.

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Of course, I still had the telephoto lens on the second camera body and when the sun began to kiss the peaks, I pulled it out.

Howse Peak at Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Howse Peak at Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Howse Peak at Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Howse Peak at Sunrise, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

The telephoto lens was also useful for isolating reflections in the lake itself.  As the sun came up, the wind did as well, naturally, which had some effect on these quasi-abstract shots.

Howse Peak Reflections, Waterfowl  Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Howse Peak Reflections, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mt. Chephren Reflections, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mt. Chephren Reflections, Waterfowl Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

After a very successful sunrise shoot, we piled back in our vehicles and resumed the drive on the Icefields Parkway south.  More clouds blew in as we did so and produced mostly overcast conditions, at least for a time.

As we approached Bow Lake, we could see that the wind had died down again and that the lake surface was almost entirely undisturbed, making for some great reflections of Crowfoot Mountain and Crowfoot Glacier.  There was no direct sunlight, but that was just fine.  We pulled off to the side of the road to, briefly, do some shooting.

Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Mountain from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Mountain from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

There were ample opportunities to play with abstracts at this location.

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow, Banff National Park, Alberta

After playing with wide-normal a bit, I pulled the telephoto back out and went to work.

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

I didn’t allow this chance to pick out details on the glacier to go wanting.

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Crowfoot Glacier from Bow Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

We made one last stop before reaching Lake Louise Village–Herbert Lake.  I had stopped at this spot and done some quick shooting, under less than optimal conditions (off-and-on rain) on Day 4.  The conditions this time around weren’t perfect, but they were much better than those I had experienced a week earlier.  There was no sunshine given the still mostly cloudy skies, but no rain either, and very little wind.  Besides, the background peaks were nicely dressed with a coating of snow, something that hadn’t been in evidence during my previous stop.  I was quite glad to have the opportunity to have another look at the place.  On my earlier visit, I had taken the time to scout the location, and I tried to put this experience to good use.

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

I liked how this image set came out in both color and black and white–something that’s not ordinarily the case–so I’m presenting a paired series here.

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

I did play around with one lakeside location that I hadn’t really investigated during my first visit, utilizing a set of submerged rocks as a dominant foreground interest.

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

When we were done at Herbert Lake, we drove the short distance to Lake Louise Village.  After a brief pit stop there, we moved on to Morraine Lake–a route I was quite familiar with, having made that drive three separate times by myself when I was in the area the previous week.  The Morraine Lake lot wasn’t too crowded when we arrived–it was still fairly early–and we rapidly hit the trail to Consolation Lakes.  The trail dips around the Morraine Lake escarpment, through a forested area to a valley containing the outlet stream from the lakes themselves, right to the water’s rock strewn edge.  There’s little elevation change and the route covers only about 3 1/2 miles, round trip.  We did have to deal with some snow, and occasional ice, on the trail, but with some caution applied, there were no casualties.

Most of the photo opportunities come near the end of the trail, when approaching the lakes themselves.  But in this instance, no more than a few hundred from the trailhead, we encountered a huge morraine (or rock pile), covered with snow, with some of the Ten Peaks in the background.  Royce quickly climbed up the pile and I, along with one of the other participants, followed.  We were treated to the view you see below.

Valley of the Ten Peaks Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Valley of the Ten Peaks Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

After we descended the morraine, we resumed the hike.  The skies turned from mostly cloudy to partly cloudy as we encountered a meadow with some larch remnants on the overlooking slopes.

Open Meadow, Consolation Lakes Trail, Banff National Park, Alberta

Open Meadow, Consolation Lakes Trail, Banff National Park, Alberta

 

From this point, it wasn’t long before we reached Lower Consolation Lake.  With some rock hopping, I managed to work my way out to a spot in the outlet stream that enabled me to frame some compositions that I found pleasing.

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

It was a short walk from this point to the end of the trail.  Here, numerous huge boulders were strewn throughout the close-in waters of the lake.  The best route to reach the edge wasn’t always obvious, but Royce was very helpful pointing out the way.  I was eventually able to work my way out to the edge of the water-surrounded boulder field.

Consolation Lakes Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

In addition to the wider perspectives, tighter shots of reflections and their interplay with the rocks were also in evidence.

Consolation Lakes Reflections Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes Reflections Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

At one point, the breeze picked up and sent ripples across the entire length of the lake’s surface.  It required some patience, but after more than five minutes of waiting, the lake settled to it’s prior glass-like state.

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Back on terra firma, after rock hopping back to the shore, I pulled out the telephoto rig again and worked on the details of the patterned slopes that surrounded us on all sides.

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns Black & White, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mountain Patterns Black & White, Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta

We made the hike back to the parking area.  The sky was completely overcast, and a bit threatening, at this point, but we did have one last stop to make–Paradise Creek, along the Morraine Lake Road.  I’d admired this creek during my previous visits, but hadn’t made the time to stop.  That shortcoming would be rectified now.

Paradise Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

As is my custom in such settings, I oscillated between wider, more representative shots and tighter, more abstract compositions.

Paradise Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Intimate Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Intimate Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

There was a downed branch spanning part of the creek–you can see it in some of the shots above–that still had a line of icicles protruding from it that I thought made for a compelling center of interest.

Paradise Creek Icicles, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Icicles, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Icicles Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Paradise Creek Icicles Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

It was early evening by the time we wrapped up at Paradise Creek.  Thoughts of a sunset shoot were quashed by the persistent overcast, occasionally mixed with rain; there would be no sunset this day.  For the umpteenth time on this trip, another long, successful day of photography had come to an end.  Umpteen plus one still beckoned.

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Responses

  1. Gorgeous picture, I have to make a trip out there soon. I went to Banff in the early 90s and I have only one thing to say. When you see the beauty of Nature, you know there is a God.

    • Thanks very much. The Canadian Rockies region is utterly beautiful.

  2. Very stunning photography. I recently moved to the area and look forward to taking that hike. 😃

    • Thanks.

      Re the hike, you won’t regret it. There’s a ton of bang for the buck given the beauty of the surroundings and the relative simplicity of the hike itself.

      • I appreciate the feedback Kerry, as I’m taking my young kids along that love hiking. 😊

        • Consolation Lakes is definitely a good choice. Only thing I’d suggest, especially if your kids are quite young, is to be vigilant at the end of the trail. There’s a lot of tempting rock hopping locations, which means there are lots of places where falling into the water is a possibility.

        • I really appreciate the great advice. My kids are 8 and 3 and love to rock hop. I had to discourage that when we were in BC at Hope slide. 😉

  3. A collection of beautiful photographs from a stellar day. I feel I am right back there and would love to do it all again.

    • Thanks very much, Ellen.

      Yes, it would be great to relive that day.

  4. Your Consolation Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta shot is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Particularly the first one shown on your post.

  6. Wow that is a great shot of the picture.

  7. Those are some stunning sunrise shots, I agree, your conditions were pretty damn perfect 🙂 Sounds like you had a great day out.

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, things really came together very, very nicely that morning.

  8. Amazing pictures of the sunset! I’ve never stopped at Waterfowl Lake, usually end up at Vermillion Lake. Will definitely stop by next time! Also love the B&W pictures! When the sky is a bit dull turning it into B&W makes them very interesting again.

    • Thanks. Yes, as long as there’s at least some definition in the clouds, b/w is an option worth exploring because of the greater contrast options.

      Just a clarification–the Waterfowl Lakes shots were of sunrise, not sunset.

      Waterfowl is quite a ways down the pike relative to Vermillion Lakes. The former is a good 35 miles north on the Icefield Parkways from its terminus with the TransCanada Highway. The latter, of course, is just outside the town of Banff, so the two are 60-70 driving miles apart.

  9. Lots of truly great work here. Nice to see colour and B&W treatments, too.

    • Thanks very much, Frank!

  10. When you said in your last post that the photos in this one would be even better, I didn’t see how they could be, now I do! You are truly a master at your craft!

    • Thanks!

      Did I really say that the images in this post would be “even better” than the last? 30 demerits to me for making such an arrogant statement.

  11. It looks as if all the elements fell into place with this series, Kerry. The results are spectacular.

    • Thanks, Tom. It really was a nearly perfect confluence of events.

  12. Beautiful sunrises and studies of the textures both B/W and colour.I really like that a guide can tell you the names of the peaks, although I think it is Crowfoot, named after a famous Indian Chief.

    • Thanks very much, Jane. It definitely is Crowfoot–and I have that correct in the text. I thought I had it right in the image captions as well but it appears that I created a typo with the very first image caption I produced and then repeated it by copying and pasting text for the follow-ups. I will fix that. Thanks for pointing out the error.

  13. These are so pretty! I need to go to Canada!

  14. Wow. Your photos are incredible beautiful!

  15. looks really dreamy

  16. Wow, very cool shots!

    • Thank you very much!


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