Deep snow! At last! We’d been searching and searching. We hadn’t found the incredibly deep, need-to-wear-snowshoes-to-stay-afloat snow on the Karst Spring Trail up at higher elevation in the Spray as we’d hoped. So we figured we’d need to head deeper into the mountains, across the BC border, near the infamous Roger’s Pass, where it always snows more heavily, to find it. And find it, we did! It’s a bit of a gamble though, as the wintry roads to and from can be dicey and, at times, need to close for avalanche control (or clean up), so you can get stuck on that side of the mountains in the winter, if you aren’t lucky.
Emerald Lake is a vivid green-blue lake in the summer, just as picturesque as Lake Louise, but not as heavily visited. You can see its astonishing colour, caused by the suspended sediments (called “rock flour”) entering its basin from the melting glaciers on the President & Vice President mountains (in the background of the photo) in the summertime. Our trail on this day would take us completely around Emerald Lake, and then through the delta area that you can see clearly in the photo below.
The glaciers that are melting into the lake, giving it its spectacular colour, are the ones we hiked along, on the other side of the mountains in this picture, when we hiked the spectacular, not-to-be-missedIceline Trail last summer.
When we arrived at the day-use parking lot, it was snowing lightly. The area has maintained ski and snowshoe trails that are very gentle, rolling only ever so slightly, through a spectacular setting, with often terrific snow quality.
One of the things that’s so neat about snowshoeing through an area that experiences deep, deep snow like this is just what happens with the snow: it piles around the outside edges of the trees as it slides and sloughs off, creating deep “tree wells” followed by mounding snow piles that encircle the trunks. It creates a beautiful, undulating, up-down-up-down rolling to the trail as you work your way through the forest.
… and back to the lodge where we took a break with coffee… and planned the next trail we’d adventure on that day… (more to come in the next post).
It was a fun day, and worth the (hour plus) long drive to the trailhead because we got to experience the deep snow that we’ve been searching for all winter, we got to be away from the crowds (there are advantages to going to out-of-the-way locations), and we got to return to a place we’ve been before and loved.
As a side note, we will be returning to the Emerald Lake area this summer, as we’ve signed up to do a tour of the Burgess Shale. It’s one of those life bucket-list things for me, as I’ve always wanted to see the fossils there, and learn how to find them and read them. The area is rich in 500 million year old fossil deposits, and you can only access them with a guide, as they are a highly protected treasure. And what is truly unique, is that many of the fossils allow you to see their soft body shapes & details (usually with fossils, only the bones are preserved). For more info on the Burgess Shale, go to the Royal Ontario Museum site (they’ve been sending teams out here to study the fossils for years). Should you want to visit the site yourself, go HERE to find out more info & book a guided hiking tour. Personally, I can’t wait!
Eventually I will post about each of these:
Buller Passes Circuit
Mount Allan + Centennial Ridge
Mount Edith and Cory Passes
Heart Mountain Circuit
Old Goat Glacier
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!