The Joy of Short Trips

Sometimes I get so caught up in planning and taking epic journeys I forget how necessary and restorative short ventures into the mountains can be.  So I rolled into Canmore ready for two days of snowshoeing and photography.  Never mind that my snowshoes were still sitting in my living room in Edmonton, along with my liner gloves and cell phone (just a few additions to a life list of forgotten gear).  A local outdoor shop provided snowshoes and gloves, and I decided to drive very carefully with no phone.

Edmonton’s December is wet and brown, but Lake Louise has an abundance of snow.  I set out in solitude along the Great Divide trail, an old road that crosses the Great Divide and ends near the Lake Ohara trail.  It soon intersects a more interesting route through the forest.

Lower Telemark Trail, an offshoot of the Great Divide trail.

The trail is gently rolling and offers an excellent chance to read the night’s Gazette: who was doing what and where?  Tracks were plentiful.

A red squirrel had ventured out.

Snowshoe hares are the party animals. Their tracks are everywhere.

Where the hares go, the lynx is seldom far behind.

The pine martens are also on the prowl.

Winter yields a much greater array of recognizable tracks than summer, but the animals are shy in any season.  Only the cheeky squirrels and martens are happy  to come out and fuss at you, although I  saw neither this day.  After a pause for lunch I made my way up to the Great Divide road and headed back to the parking lot, content with a beautiful outing.

View from the Great Divide road.

I gave the rest of my visit over to photography, stopping twice at the iconic Vermillion Lakes.

Vermillion Lake and Mt Rundle

Professional photographers and point-and-shoot tourists take multiple images of this fortuitous marriage of lakes and mountains.  I keep hoping for that “shot of a lifetime”.  In truth, it’s almost as hard to take a bad photo here as it is to take a great one.

Lake and Mt Rundle

Early morning walk

Daybreak next morning didn’t produce the red clouds I was hoping for, but I enjoyed the sight of this man walking his dog along the ice.

Dawn at the lakes.

Every winter, no matter how cold, I see ducks in Banff and Canmore.

Ducks at Vermillion Lakes

I don’t know what these are, as I had no binoculars.  They are compact, dark, surface feeders with a little white on the side near the tail.

I drove and walked around for the rest of the day, at peace with the land.

In Canmore, only one more task remained – to photograph one of the infamous bunnies that are overrunning the town.  A careless release of a few bunnies in the 1990s produced a nuisance factor of a few thousand as the rabbits did what rabbits naturally do.  Still, they really are cute.

Canmore bunny

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