In September, I made two trips up the Icefields Parkway, about 3 weeks apart. The first time, I was headed up to hike Chephren Lake with my friend John, when I learned he had never visited the area along the highway that runs between Banff and Jasper. I couldn’t resist stopping to show him some of the most scenic spots along the way, before and after our hike. We stopped at Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake lookout at Bow Summit, among other locations.
Three weeks later, I took my Mom on a trip to the same area. That morning, snow was falling like fat cotton balls, and I wasn’t too sure we would see much of anything at all. By the time we reached Banff National Park, though, the snow tapered off and the weather cleared, so we ended up having a lovely day.
After looking at the photos from the second trip, I was struck by how different the areas looked in the aftermath of a snowfall. Not only was there some snow added to the view, but colors changed dramatically.
Where Crowfoot Glacier was clearly visible during the first trip, on the second, the glacier and the mountain it’s perched on were significantly obscured by snow, with only the sheer vertical cliffs left to show.
At Bow Lake, John and I had seen quite a bit of autumn color in the shrubs around the lake, and the lake itself was that amazing aqua blue that you get from glacial rock flour suspended in the water. A few weeks later, the snow and overcast conditions gave the lake a darker blue cast. The shrubs had lost most of their leaves by then, giving the whole area a definite wintry feel.
Our third stop was Peyto Lake. Both times there were lots of people on the pathway up to the lookout, but on the late September trip, we had to contend with patches of snow and ice that made things a little slippery. The lake was still the same aquamarine color, but the nearby mountain peaks and trees had a grayer cast to them.
I think this winter I’d like to head back up the Parkway, to see what changes have occurred when full winter has arrived.
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