Water! Here in Calgary, we open the nearest tap for instant access to unlimited, safe drinking water at a cost of roughly half a cent per litre. Inexpensive, ready access to clean water is easy to take for granted. And that’s reflected in my photos – water as an abundant, natural element. Part of what makes water amazing is that we can observe it all three states – gas, liquid, solid – within the temperature range that humans can tolerate. The fact that October is the month for the water theme means the timing is just right to photograph water in all of those natural states.
An awesome wildflower season hike, the Helen Lake trail is also a good option for early fall. It offers great views of Crowfoot Glacier across the valley, has a relatively modest elevation gain of just under 600 meters from trailhead to lake shore, and includes a long stretch of trail with expansive views of Dolomite Peak and several unnamed ridges and peaks. Upon reaching the scenic highlight that is Helen Lake, there are a few options to extend the day, including hiking to the Cirque Peak or a nice ridge walk above the lake.
The Stanley Glacier hike in Kootenay National Park has a lot going for it: 1) less than two hours from Calgary (under an hour from Canmore) it’s about the same travel time to/from as many of our favourite hikes deep in Kananaskis; 2) it’s pretty easy; 3) fossils; 4) new and old growth forests; 5) Mount Stanley, Mount Storm and Mount Whymper; 6) waterfalls; 7) a hanging valley; and 8) Stanley Glacier! After our second trip up and down the trail, we added Stanley Glacier to our list of all-time favourites hikes.
While Sunshine is most well-known for skiing, the summer gondola and shuttle bus service make Sunshine Meadows one of the most accessible alpine hiking areas in the Canadian Rockies from late June through late September. For some, its a starting point for backpacking adventures to Mt. Assiniboine or the Egypt/Pharoah Lakes area. For dayhikers like us, prime times to visit Sunshine Meadows are during peak wildflower season (usually towards the end of July) and peak larch viewing season (usually towards the end of September). Our most recent larch season visit was timed just about perfectly and reaffirmed that it’s well worth the effort to do at least one golden larch hike each fall.
We split our time between Calgary and Canmore, so the big decision I had to make was which one to showcase in this month’s post. I decided on Calgary for a few reasons: 1) we live here about three-quarters of the time; 2) I routinely showcase the mountain landscapes around Canmore in PBC posts, so it’s Calgary’s turn; and 3) Beakerhead comes to Calgary in September, so there are some pretty cool things to photograph here in YYC.