Posted by: kerryl29 | February 3, 2015

The Canadian Rockies, Day 13 – White Goat Lakes, Abraham Lake Floodplain and Peyto Lake

The 13th and final day of my trip to the Canadian Rockies began with promise.  There was one more morning’s shoot with the tour and I planned to stop at Bow Summit on the drive back to Calgary that afternoon.  I’d checked in at Bow Summit on Day 4, during my trip north to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, but it was crowded and rainy, so while I got a look at the famous Peyto Lake, I didn’t even bring my gear with me to the overlook area.  I planned to reconcile this omission.  But that was later.

Our sunrise stop was White Goat Lakes, just a short distance to the southwest of the lodge on Highway 11.  It was still dark when we arrived, of course, and the light was just beginning to come up as we made a short hike on a somewhat overgrown trail to the lakes themselves.  It wasn’t the most spectacular sunrise–we’d had a few already, as you know if you’ve been following the earlier installments in this series–but the location was very nice and there was minimal wind at dawn.

The prominent mountain you’ll see in most of the images from this location is the now familiar Elliot Peak.

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The water features at White Goat Lakes are well-apportioned with reeds and tall grasses and the lakes themselves are ringed by conifers.  The lack of wind made for excellent reflections on this morning and the sky became increasingly interesting as the light came up.  The scene took on a beauty of the subtle pastel type.

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

It wasn’t long before the first rays of the sun began to illuminate Elliot Peak.

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

As had become my custom at this point, as the sun inched higher I made certain to pull out the telephoto lens to capture a more compressed view of the scene.

Elliot Peak from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliot Peak from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliot Peak at Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliot Peak at Sunrise, David Thompson Country, Alberta

With these images firmly in tow, I began to take a closer look at some other elements and different perspectives from which to capture them.

Elliot Peak Reflections, White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliot Peak Reflections, White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Stelfox loomed to my right and I moved to a different spot to capture part of its long sloping facade.

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes Black & White, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes Black & White, David Thompson Country, Alberta

In my quest for a slightly different foreground element, I switched from the 24-70 to the 14-24 ultra-wide.  It was necessary to do so to incorporate all of a small tree to help balance the composition and still allow for the inclusion of Elliot Peak.

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Mt. Stelfox from White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I also played with the grasses themselves, melding them in with the peak reflections using a telephoto lens.

Reeds and Reflections, White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Reeds and Reflections, White Goat Lakes, David Thompson Country, Alberta

When we wrapped up at this location, we moved on to nearby Preacher’s Point to work the flooded meadow area located there.  I found this spot highly intriguing, with numerous compositional and subject possibilities.  The image immediately below will give you a fairly broad view of the elements we had at our disposal.

Flooded Plain, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Flooded Plain, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

As you can see, it was a kind of marshy meadow area–and you already know how I feel about meadows–with the requisite stands of aspen, with pools of water filled with fallen leaves and prairie grass.  Although the wind had picked up by this time, it was gusty; with patience, it would settle down to nothing, producing good reflections in the shallow water.

I played around with tight compositions and wider ones, focusing on details in the former and broader “sense of place” images in the latter.

Aspen Leaves and Grasses, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Leaves and Grasses, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

While some of the aspens were essentially bare of leaves, others–even in the same stands–were still in remarkably good shape.  I found the contrast between the two of interest.

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I also found the patterned symmetry of the subject matter, when including the reflections, quite photogenic and pulled out the telephoto lens to isolate these elements.

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I was mesmerized by how difficult it was in many spots to distinguish the reflections from the objects creating them.

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Trunks and Reflections, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Trunks and Reflections, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Trunks and Reflections Black & White, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Trunks and Reflections Black & White, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

And then I backed off a bit, altering composition to allow for an easier comprehension of forms and objects.  The distant mountainside, bathed in shadow under what was a mostly clear sky at this point, took on a bluish hue, which I thought made for a nice complement to the predominant gold of the aspens.

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspens and Reflections, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Finally, I moved a few hundred feet to a slightly different location for one final parting meadow photo.

Marshy Meadow, Preacher's Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Marshy Meadow, Preacher’s Point, David Thompson Country, Alberta

This was the very last image I produced on the tour.  Shortly after this we returned to the lodge and, after saying our good-byes, I was on my own again.

It was a 45-60 minute drive to Bow Summit from the lodge and when I arrived there the conditions were far different than the chilly drizzle I had experienced on my prior visit.  This time it was partly cloudy and pleasant.

I pulled into the parking lot, gathered my gear together and made my way up the steep paved path toward the Peyto Lake overlook.  The overlook platform was crowded and I walked right past it, continuing on the trail further up the slope.  Royce had mentioned that there were far better vantage points, not far beyond the official overlook, that would be deserted, or nearly so, and recommended them to me.  Not long after I passed the overlook I began to see unofficial looking dirt paths heading into the undergrowth in the direction of the lake and, after going another 1/4 mile or so further on the main trail, I took one.  Before long I found myself on an unoccupied rocky outcropping with a terrific, essentially unobstructed view of Peyto Lake, which lay far below me.  This is where I set up and where all of the following images were made.

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

After obtaining the requisite “postcard” shot, I started to play around a bit.  First, I switched to a telephoto lens to obtain some details of the inlet plain and lakeshore that you can just barely glimpse on the left side of the above image.

Peyto Lake Inlet Stream Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake Inlet Stream Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

I liked the abstract pattern of the above image and the yin-yang color contrast of the photo below.

Peyto Lake Shoreline, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake Shoreline, Banff National Park, Alberta

I then went back to a wide angle to make use of some of the outcropping itself as foreground shots of the lake–or most of it, at any rate.

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park, Alberta

In all, I spent about 90 minutes at the location.  It was mid-afternoon by the time I returned to my vehicle.  I would have loved to hang around for a few more hours somewhere in the area and shoot sunset, but I had to be at the airport in Calgary at 5 o’clock the following morning, and with a solid three-plus hour drive ahead of me, I knew, much to my chagrin, that I had to head straight back.

Thus, my time in the Canadian Rockies was at an end.  While this is the final daily entry, I will post one more installment before calling the series complete.  I hope you’ll stick around for the epilogue.

Next:  The Canadian Rockies:  A Retrospective

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Responses

  1. Gorgeous photos.

  2. I love the photos from the meadow at Preacher’s Point, but my favorite in this set is the yin yang Peyto Lake shoreline.

    • Thanks, Ellen!

  3. Beautiful images. It has been over a year since I was in the Rockies and I miss the mountains. I struggled to capture them to my satisfaction, so it’s interesting to read your description of the way you worked – gives me some inspiration for when I visit Canada again!

    • Thanks very much and best of luck during your next excursion to the Canadian Rockies.

  4. Once again you have put your superb skills as a photographer on display for us to enjoy!

    I loved Peyto Lake when I was there, and your photos are some of the few that I’ve seen that do justice to the beauty of that area.

    I have to wonder why some of the other locations that you’ve shot aren’t as well known, not that it would be a good thing. But, they are every bit as spectacular as the locations inside of the parks themselves.

    • Thanks!

      I think the answer to your query about why the lesser known places are…well, lesser known…is because of how far off the beaten track they are. The David Thompson Country images in particular…the area lies to the east of Banff National Park, and is accessed by the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11). There are virtually no services on that road between Saskatchewan Crossing and Nordegg–a distance of roughly 55 miles–and there isn’t much in the way of services at either of those places. It’s a pretty desolate (though beautiful) area with very little traffic. The overwhelming majority of people are quite satisfied to stay on the Trans Canada between Banff and Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper (and goodness knows there’s plenty to keep you busy on these routes). Honestly compels me to report that Had I not joined the tour, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have experienced the area myself; what a shame that would have been.

  5. amazing.. I like this

  6. Love the shapes and the patterns of the mountains in the Rockies and you have captured it beautifully with the close up of Elliott Peak.

    • Thanks very much!

  7. Amazing virtual tour! Thanks for taking me there 🙂 Bye. Kamila

    • Thanks very much!

  8. Kerry: I love your work and dedication to production. You should be well-pleased with what you’ve accomplished with this entire presentation – again, Good WORK,

    • Thanks very much for the extremely kind words.

  9. I love how you talk about your experiences and the changes you made with your lenses and your composition. I love light and reflections. Your work is beautiful. Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and for the kind words.

  10. I love the abstracts of Peyto Lake and the aspens/reflections at Preacher’s Point. Every time I see one of your photos of Elliot Peak I want to check my photos to see if I have some images of it(I am sure that I do but don’t have my computer with me). I really need to go back to the area and learn the names of the peaks and capture them from different viewpoints in their various moods as you have done with such great skill.It sure pays to have a good guide. Thank you for sharing, I have so enjoyed coming along on the journey. Look forward to the epilogue.

    • Thanks very much, Jane, for the kind words and for following along.

      And, not incidentally, you’re absolutely right about the benefit of a good guide.

  11. An amazing series of photos. The Canadian Rockies look magnificent. A two week trip must have been sublime.

    • Thanks very much.

      Yes, it was an exceptional experience to spend (nearly) two weeks in the region. It’s truly a spectacular place.


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