Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peyto Lake & Glaciers

Peyto Lake

The first time I saw a photo of Peyto Lake, I was amazed. The color of the water and beautiful mountainous surroundings left me aching to go there. It was one of those places you have to go if you are in the area. The day was cloudy, and rainy, and sunny. Kind of a nice combination. If what you wanted to shoot was in direct sunlight you could wait a bit and a cloud would come by and diffuse the harsh light a bit. Conversely when something was shrouded in clouds, just by waiting a bit some sunlight would peek out and illuminate a portion of the scene. We began the day by driving north on the old frontage road to the Trans-Canadian Highway. We thought it was the most scenic route and it didn't dissapoint. There was an elk grazing on the side of the road, and some people getting dangerously close. Eventually we had to get onto the major highway, and stopped at all the pull outs to look at the glaciers. Another big reason we decided to visit Banff, was because of the quickly dissappearing glaciers. Call it what you will, global warming, climate change, Bush's fault, or whatever, the glaciers are quickly becoming extinct. There is no better place than Banff to see the effects. Peyto Lake has a large interprative sign with photos of the glacier. Now, cameras have been around only as long as a blink in geologic time. Within that time we, or the climate, have managed to melt them into oblivion. I wanted to be able to say that I've seen a Glacier in my life time. I don't have any kids or grandkids, so I'm not sure who I'll say those words to. At least I'll have had the pleasure of seeing them.

Peyto Glacier

The parking lot there was divided between passenger cars and tour busses. Being on our own we parked in the lower lot and took the nature walk pathway. It offered intrepretive signs and plant life IDs. At the view point there is a huge wooden deck provided to take the typical snap shot of the lake. There are more intrepretive signs describing how the lake gets it's wild blue color. The glacial silt gets more and more pulverized to the point of the consistancy of flour. The combination of the emulsified silt and reflection of light gives it the light aqua color. Just as we approached the viewing platform a tour bus of young students arrived and it became an instant mob scene. I got a bit frustrated and wanted badly to get away from the people so I could have a little personal time with the view and compose a shot that was more than the typical platform view. Fortunately there was a trail that went down and to the left, eventually reaching the headwaters of the lake. We walked down the trail and detoured a couple of times to grab some views. There my blood pressure began to return to normal. We got to see a pika up close. Pikas are little mouse looking mammals that live in the rocks of high altitudes. They are so aclimated to the cold, that temperatures above the high 70s could cause them to die. They are usually very shy creatures, so hearing one peep is much more prevalant than seeing one. The image of the lake I was most happy with was taken after our little hike and off the main trail. I wanted the rocky foreground, but also wanted some sunlight dappling on the mountain and lake. I took many images, and finally the clouds broke a bit giving me the light I was looking for.

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