October Mornings at Emerald Lake
As Canada migrates into winter, Alberta always experiences a fleeting fall season that seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. For photographers, that provides only a small window of opportunity to capture the orange and yellow larches at Moraine Lake, or the deciduous treelined corridor of the Icefields parkway in Jasper. The mornings are later which means sunrise isn’t such a pain to get up for, and the air has a chill in it that isn’t quite as biting as the January and February months. After spending a long weekend in Jasper to capture the fall colors, I decided to close off the autumn season with a trip to Emerald Lake.
Driving on the roads during this time of year is probably my favorite, leaving Calgary in the darkness, rolling into a slumbering Canmore, a sleepy Banff, with the faint glimmers of sunrise appearing by the time I hit Lake Louise. Sunrise is the only time I can be bothered visiting Emerald Lake due to its popularity, in fact, during my last 5 visits to this iconic lake, I have never been plagued by crowds, which for 2017 was fairly surprising considering the tourism spike that occured as a result of the countries 150th anniversary. I suppose because it is inconveniently placed between Golden and Lake Louise, there isn’t a whole lot of tourists willing to drag themselves out into the cold dark hours of the morning to see this area at its quietest. But it’s through that effort that allows me to experience such popular places with relative quiet and isolation.
It’s always good news when you find yourself driving straight into a cloud of fog, which is what happened as I neared the parking lot and saw the eerie glow of the lodge surrounded by the faded outline of fir trees and cabins. Places like Moraine Lake, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake always look their prettiest when the low hanging clouds rest gently between the peaks. The still fog is almost a comforting shroud, and reflects the stillness of the area in its glacial waters. Seeing this familiar scene made me kick myself for not bringing my kayak, but once i stepped out of the vehicle it became quite apparent that the water was far too cold for an enjoyable day boating anyways.
With me I took a new set of favorites from Rocky Mountain Soap Co., mostly to ease the congestion that had been plaguing me all week due to stress and exhaustion. My personal favorite for the week was the newly released Headache remedy, which unlike a lot of essential oils for headaches, has been mixed into a creamy balm that is perhaps more easily absorbed into the skin. It smells of peppermint and the cool feeling on my temples was a welcome relief after a week of perhaps too much worrying and too much thinking. The other 3 balms create a nice little healing package that is sized perfectly for travel or carrying in your pocket. One for stress relief, another for deep sleep and perhaps the most useful around this time of year, a decongestion balm for cold and flu. As I’ve stated so adamantly in other posts, the commitment to sourcing ingredients from nature, is what has always drawn me to their products and makes it easy to support when I am seated in natural environments far away from the buzz and hum of the city. During their store opening at Chinook Centre Mall it was encouraging to hear that their chemist felt strongly inclined to source materials from within the country and was committed to creating products that incorporated elements found in the Canadian wild. It’s a transparency that consumers seem to appreciate more and more in this day and age, especially when its difficult these days to distinguish the whole truth, particularly in advertising.
From my little set up on the left side of the lake, I sipped coffee from my Yeti thermos and snapped photos of the lodge as it slowly emerged out of the clouds. Kept company by a curious pup owned by another photographer in a nearby bush, the next couple hours seemed to rush by, and the sound of gravel crunching under tires was the unwelcome signal that the mornings peace and quiet was now coming to an end with the arrival of scheduled tours and rental cars.
All the same, it’s always a nice experience to pack up my car so early and see eager foreigners light up with joy as they experience these natural places for the first time. I envy that feeling of fresh discovery that comes with traveling to the Canadian Rockies and traveling across Albertas vast prairies. The world is only getting bigger and busier, and to have even a moment of peace in a place where you can hear your own thoughts and concentrate in genuine silence may be something of a rarity in the future. It is no mystery to me why so many people seek to mountaineer, to climb, to dive to deep depths and find the places in the world tucked away from noise pollution. I will enjoy it while I can, and hopefully with each visit I can continue to carry with me a full heart of gratitude and humility for the peaceful life i’ve been so very blessed with.
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