Lake #1 was Lake Louise. If you Google image search this location, you'll come to identify it by glacial blue waters...but if you visit during winter weather, you'll hardly recognize the place. However, even when frozen over, it is stunning. Most of the hiking trails in the area were covered in snow and in some patches were rather icy, so we elected to do a flat trail that walked around the lake. We came across some ice climbers above us on the portion of the trail before we got back in the car to head off to our next lake visit.
Lake #2 was Bow Lake, still in Banff National Park, but getting close to Jasper National Park. As we pulled in to see the "lake" (which was covered in snow so hardly resembled a lake) it began to snow in strong flurries. We drove on to the parking lot of lake #3 (Peyto Lake) but didn't stay long since the snow was coming down more strongly and the snow on the ground was so thick in places that our feet sunk through to our knees. As Californians living in an area that doesn't get snow, we were rather childishly enthusiastic about the large snow flakes.
We headed down to lower elevations in hopes of finding a trail to hike without a thick carpet of snow. We found one at lake #4 - Lake Minnewanka. The lake is 17 miles long, with a trail that borders the perimeter so we set out to walk about an hour out before turning around. It was raining just enough to make the scent of the forest electric, but not enough to make us dampened through. The lake is fed by the Cascade River, and the trail alternates between moss carpeted conifer forests and cliff edge views of the river below.
And our lake #5 was Johnson Lake. There is about a 2-mile trail that goes around the lake, which we set out on. The reflectivity of the lake was a highlight with the mountains in the distance but the biggest gift of the hike (and biggest gift of the day if not the entire trip) was sighting a bald eagle. We stood speechless when we accidentally spooked it from a tree, and thanked God for allowing us to witness such a majestic creature in the wild.
|hard to see, but the bald eagle is in the tree canopy|