Cooler autumn temperatures and a bit of precipitation finally put out most of the forest fires in BC and Alberta. As the skies cleared and the summer crowds thinned out, we closed out the 2017 conventional hiking season with an up and back hike to the high point along the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park. The majority of the trail is across barren landscape that was covered by glaciers just a hundred years ago. Pioneering alpine shrubs added touches of warm, fall colour to the rocky terrain – a beautiful contrast to the icy pools of turquoise glacier melt.
While not the most scenic hike, there is definitely a fun factor to this half-day outing – creek crossings, rock-hopping, pictographs, waterfalls and rock climbers are all appealing. Natural turnaround points are at the waterfall (approx. 2 km return) and at the hoodoos (approx. 6 km return). The steep canyon walls and creek can be a cool respite on hot summer days. In the winter, ice cleats should be considered essential for this trail.
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.
I haven’t done much black and white photography. But that changed thanks to this month’s photo blogging challenge. I switched my digital camera to monotone mode; that camera processee the jpg files in black and white while leaving me with full colour RAW files for blogging, tweeting, etc. The other result from changing the picture mode to monotone is that everything seen through the EVF and on the LCD screen is in black and white. That really helped me focus on shape, form, lines, patterns, textures and other sources of tonal contrast – elements of composition that become particularly important when colour isn’t part of the equation. The biggest thing I learned by doing this is that viewing a composition in black and white makes for stronger compositions; I think I’ll use this mode on a semi-regular basis.