Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Rockpile

And God Said - "Let There Be Light"

Being that the weather is bound to change any day now and probably not for the better, I thought I would take advantage of what was promising to be a beautiful September day, and take a drive through the high country of Banff National Park.
I actually contemplated hiking into the Larch Valley up above Moraine Lake where the Larch trees would be showing their best colors at this time in the fall. The trail begins at Moraine Lake a glacially fed lake 14 kilometres out of the Village of Lake Louise. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks (The peaks are now officially christened the Wenkchemna, after the Stoney native word for "ten") at an elevation of approximately 6183 feet. I was somewhat disappointed as I made the approach to the Bow Valley Parkway that is just a ways west of the Town-site of Banff, as mostly cloudy skies were starring me in the face doing nothing for my disposition on such a fine morning. I have shot photos of the larch trees in the Larch Valley before and a necessary requirement to show them at their best is bright blue skies.With the sun now above the horizon and mostly hidden behind clouds rolling through from the west, I decided to make the best of it and take the turnout off of highway 1 that takes you on to the parkway that is a wonderful drive at a leisurely pace of 60kph that is seriously enforced by the park rangers. The good thing is the fact that you have a lot of time to watch out for photographic opportunities that are around every corner as you proceed west. The parkway is 30 kilometers in length from highway 1 to Lake Louise.I couldn't help but notice that I had company on the drive along the parkway, as photographer's had their cameras on tripods at the various vantage points taking advantage of the spectacular scenery. In what seemed just minutes, but actually was more along the time of several hours, I could see the junction of the parkway and the icefields parkway coming into view on my GPS and then moments later I was making the turn south and down the hill over highway 1 into the village of Lake Louise. I quickly picked up the road that takes you up to the lake, although I only went as far as the Moraine Lake turnoff. The drive up to Moraine Lake is not to be missed if you are in the Lake Louise area. I will forgo the mass of people that you will find on most any given day at Lake Louise and drive up to Moraine Lake instead with its wonderful views and way fewer people to contend with, if photographing the wonderful vistas is on your agenda. I spent time happily scotch-hopping from boulder to boulder, as I shot photos along Moraine creek, before finally arriving at the village of Lake Louise where I had lunch at "Laggen's Mountain Bakery". With lunch a done deal, I again drove the parkway in a easterly direction with a planned stop at the "Morantz's Curve" location on the Canadian Pacific rail-line, where I set-up my camera and tripod and then had a nap while listening to my scanner for updates as to the arrival of the eastbound train. I soon was picking up scanner chatter as the automated defect detectors along the track examined the passing train for hot wheel bearings as well as dragging equipment and then reporting by radio to the train crew. The train rounded the last bend as I looked through the viewfinder and captured the photos I desired. With my camera back in the truck, I headed my truck for home after another enjoyable day out in the rocks, anxious to see the day's shoot on my computer screen. The best view of Moraine lake, which you should check out is from the top of the moraine, but better known by the name "The Rockpile". This photo shows the trail leading to the top of the rockpile.

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