I love the fall – it’s my favourite season. I love the crisp, every-shortening days, the magnificent display of colours contrasted with a dusting of snow on the mountain tops and the clear blue skies. I love the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. I love that it always leaves me wanting more.

I apologise for the lack of entries in the past few weeks, but truth be told I’ve been out enjoying every day to it’s fullest, as I knew that before long it would all be over. I also had the pleasure of showing my sister and her friend around my favourite places, and we in turn were among the privileged few to enjoy Lake O’Hara at this time of year. A picture tells a thousand words and, quite frankly, even in a thousand words I couldn’t do it justice… and I took many, many pictures:

We spent a glorious couple of days hiking and camping in the Yoho backcounty. On my previous visits to the area I had stayed at the Alpine Club of Canada’s Elizabeth Parker hut, but I’ve mostly gone up in the winter. The hut is lottery based in the summer, so you really have to plan ahead. The whole area is accessed by busses which thus restricts the number of visitors per day: even the busses for day visits to this spectacular area sell out in a matter of minutes!

Lake Oesa - photo by Claire

The first day dawned with a chilly mist sitting over the mountain tops. We gamely pulled on our thermals and had a quick breakfast of oatmeal to warm us from the inside. The object for day 1 was to get up to one of my favourite lakes: Lake Oesa. I wasn’t sure if there would be snow or ice on the ground, so we allowed plenty of time. Watching two individuals new to the Lake O’Hara area discover it for the first time was an amazing experience. The smiles and cries of amazement at each corner that revealed a new perspective or view unfold around us served to improve my own experience, and my laughs mirrored theirs. I always say that you never, ever get bored of the views we enjoy daily living here in the mountains, they are ever changing and charismatic through all seasons. I do think that the relationships with them change over the years. It’s so refreshing to experience them again for the first time. There’s a difference between going somewhere new and unexplored yourself to sharing somewhere magical with people visiting for the first time. It’s like bringing together your two closest friends, knowing they’ll get along, and sharing in the joyful kindling of that new relationship.

The day remained chilly, and the clouds refused to lift. This worked out well for the dramatic landscapes we were in on the first day. The gorgeous colours of Lake Oesa and the different greens of Lefroy, Victoria and Yukness Lakes stood out against the snowy backdrop, and because it was a still day the reflections in the ponds were perfect. We filled out souls with these remarkable sights and returned to camp early, but utterly content. Camps are a special place filled with like-minded people who have a story (or eight!) to share. Lake O’Hara campground is equipped with two cooking shelters which were already filling with people and were warm with the stoves packed and pouring out heat. I was beginning dinner preparations and gratefully accepted a “Brave bull” from one of our neighbours and was offered a home made crab apple tequila from another (I obviously missed the memo to bring tequila based beverages!) We sat up late swapping tales and adventures, and snuggled down to get rest for the following day.

The sunrise that greeted us the next morning filled the sky with vibrant pinks and reds, but was gone before I had located my camera! Today’s adventure would take us a bit further afield, up to McArthur Lake. One of the great things about this area is how much is accessible within such an easy distance. We made these two trips into 2 easy days, but for strong hikers it’s possible to loop them together.

As we approached McArthur Pass the sun was illuminating the tops of the golden larches, and I knew we were in for a show! Autumnal perfection is found in clear blue skies, golden larches enhanced by brilliant sunshine, and deep blue lakes shimmering in the mountain basin. This was the epitome of an Autumn day.

To visit this spectacular place you have to be on the ball!  Book your place 3 months ahead of when you want to visit (to the day – lines open at 8am MST and all spots are usually booked by 10am!) by calling +1- 250-343-6433

Lake O'Hara map

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