A short walk around Emerald Lake

A bad hip can give you a case of the extremes.

Look down the campground toward the laundry room 30 yards away and think, “I’ll drive.”

Look at a 1.7-kilometer trail around a remote lake and think, “I can do that!”

Green everywhere. But not the sky, thankfully.

And then you start writing a blog entry and go to Wikipedia to verify the length of that trail, only to find it’s 5.2 km, or more than three miles! Then you think: “How the heck did I do that?”

But you survived. Even that bit of needing to scramble over fallen tree trunks … in five different places! (Don’t they have chainsaws in Canada?)

Our passports arrived while we were in South Dakota, and we had some wiggle room in the schedule before we needed to be in Yellowstone, so we planned a quick trip into Canada. The touristy shopping places didn’t have much attraction to us (we live in a tiny box on wheels, remember?), so we kept things simple. Someone on an R-Pod forum on Facebook suggested Emerald Lake, which is in British Columbia and is part of the range of national parks west of Banff, so that went on our short list for a day trip.

The drive there from our campsite in Canmore, Alberta, was stunning. It mostly follows the river, so driving at 100 kph, or about 60 mph, the car computer said we were getting 27 miles per gallon. That’s about the best I can remember in the Toyota Sienna.

Ice and snow was still evident at higher elevations, still feeding the streams that were rushing and gurgling in the valley.

The trip followed the Bow River, which also had a green hue to it.

The mountains rose up with the layers of sedimentary rock standing at steep angles, showing how the uplift of the area folded the rocks like a rug being scooted across a hardwood floor.

Further west, the type of mountains changes to something called terranes. This is an area where islands in the Pacific were scraped off onto the North American plate and became mountains attached to the western coast.

Toward the end of the walk around the park a woman from Victoria, BC, asked if these were the Rockies. Apparently a ranger further west said there were multiple mountain ranges in Canada, only one of which was the Rockies. I’m not enough of a geologist to disagree with the claim, but as an amateur, my thought is that if it’s over 5,000 feet and it’s on the west side of Canada, it’s the Rockies. 

But back to the lake. Most of the photos don’t really do justice to the color of the lake. It’s not really what I would call emerald, but it certainly isn’t blue.

Many waterways out west have a lot of what is called glacial flour. This is the finely ground silt-like sediment that is produced by the glaciers. In South Dakota and Montana, it seems every river is called the Milk River, since the water looks cloudy and almost the color of milk.

Emerald Lake has a different set of minerals involved, which produces a cloudy green. On the shore, the water looks remarkably clear, but it quickly becomes cloudy by the time it’s a foot deep or so.

Clear water that doesn’t support much life at the shore, fading quickly to cloudy green.

Vicki and I went counter-clockwise around the lake, while most folks went clockwise. That probably was a good choice for me, since I got the rough part out of the way before getting to the paved bit. Had I started on the paved path, I suspect I would have turned back at the first bit of eroded tree roots making up the second “half.” I swear that portion is longer than half.

Vicki said she didn’t know how long she had been waiting there. I think she just wanted to watch my reaction when I read the nearby marker saying it was the halfway point!

In the end, the trip was very tiring, but also quite satisfying. 

I was glad when it was over, but I was happy to have accomplished the task.

The photos are especially pleasing to me. I have found three vertical shots that I would like to make into a triptych when we settle down into a sticks and bricks.  They sum up the journey quite nicely.

And I can’t forget to post the flowers. There were some blooms at different points around the lake, but the cottages just past the lodge had numerous things in bloom. I post them without any attempt at identification. Just enjoy, if you like flowers.

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