Summer to winter in Alberta seems to go by in about two weeks max. We get a brief glimpse of gorgeous fall colours and then, BAM, it’s gone. Edmonton has had frost and a bit of snow here and there, but nothing that has stuck around, so by heading to the mountains this weekend it felt like we were jumping straight into winter. The mountains have been dusted with their first blanket of snow and with the blue sky hovering above and making everything look magical, it was the perfect day to head out to Banff National Park with my dad and brother. We were in Calgary for a family weekend… so we politely excused ourselves for part of Saturday to go hiking!
There are so many trails I have yet to visit in Rockies, so usually I start with some criteria in order to narrow it down. This day we were working with limited hours to get out there, hike, and get back before an early family dinner. We were prepared for snow, but not excessive amounts and likely wouldn’t have the gear for icy summits. I, personally, wanted to wander the forest and not do as much climbing as I normally do. That led us to Boom Lake, a 10km roundtrip wander through the forest with just 800ft of elevation gain, leading to a gorgeous mountain lake. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful shoulder season day to take on this hike.
IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Soft snow blanketed the trees, surrounding us for just over 5km through the trees as we headed to Boom Lake. It took us just over an hour to reach the lake. We chatted (me, to myself), and sang (me, also to myself), and followed moose tracks in the snow as my dad, my brother, and I wandered along the trail. We were the first car in the parking lot at around 10:00am, and by the time we were on the return we passed well over 30 people and came back to a full parking lot. I am always grateful for trails to ourselves and the peace of the wild.
It was a cool day, hovering below -3C for the entire day on the trail but the sun shining left us warm as we hiked. Reaching the lake we encountered some wind coming off the lake and paused long enough to take photos and eat snacks before we turned around and headed back to the parking lot the way we came. I would have wanted to stay at the beautiful lake longer but the chilly wind left us wanting to get moving to stay warm.
We even had some adorable company while we snacked. This guy was all too eager to join us for lunch and check out what we were having.
As we returned along the trail, my brother kept his camera out and we took photos as we hiked back. It was pretty much my dad walking at a steady pace along the trail and my brother and I trying to do random photos in the snow and then racing to catch up to him. It was just a wonderful day to spend with two of my favourite dudes and I am so grateful for the hours we were able to spend together. Even if my brother and I just spend 3 hours quoting The Office and Buzzfeed Unsolved videos.
It took us about the same time to get back to the car, as the fairly flat hike is a lovely out-and-back. There is a turn-off to Taylor Lake about 2km from the parking lot so I might need to head back and get to that lake as well. Close to the parking lot there is a magical little bridge that crosses a tiny creek. How cute is this!
A few hours in the forest has more health benefit for me, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, than any other possible form of indoor exercise. You just can’t leave the snow, fresh air, and mountains, without a smile on your face. It’s impossible. We jumped back into the car to head back to Calgary, thankful for how close we are to these incredible places.
Photography throughout the post is by Stuart Kevin Murray.