I have been playing the waiting game since May 21st when the Moraine Lake Road opened for the season. I have been waiting for all variables to positively align and then it would be go time. I patiently waited for the "Not Recommended" warning notice for Larch Valley to be removed from the Parks Website. That happened then I waited for a nice day but a week day and all that aligned today.
I truly enjoy being in the upper Larch Valley area at this time of year.
I arrived at the Moraine Lake Parking Lot around 7:00am. The lot was busy enough but no where near full at all. I was not sure where all the people were, maybe up on the Rock Pile. The lake level was low so I walked out to the edge of the water to capture a perfect picture of Moriane Lake with some of the Ten Peaks reflecting.
The sky was looking how I like it, the temperature was warm already and the trail was completely dry all the way to the bridge at the beginning of Larch Valley. I noticed after downloading my photos there is a ground hog at the bottom left. I was excited to get up higher so did not dilly dally too long here.
Entering the forest section after Lower Larch Valley, the snow level increased. There was a well beaten trail through it all covered in last autumn's larch needles. It was early so the snow was still solid and I could move quickly up to the open area. I now could see what the Parks People meant by "snow covered".
I followed in the foots steps of those who had gone before me on prior days. The steps were still solid, some very deep. I was able to walk on top of the snow in lots of sections and that made for easier travel. I scared away two marmots when I took over this boulder.
There was a path in the snow to follow down to Minnestimma Lake but I opted to walk on top of the snow paralleling the path. I could see people had worked their way up to Sentinel Pass on past days. Right at the edge of the lake is as far as I went.
looking back at some of the Ten Peaks lining the Valley of Ten Peaks
so happy to be here
There would be no finding the tarn today, there was still lots of snow and no trail led to it. It was not obvious where it was anyway. I could see the snow was deep and had cracks. Getting to see the waterfall was easily doable. There was no open water up here today to capture reflections. There were a few small ice covered puddles though.
I could see the Lower Minnestimma Lake.
I could see a path over there leading down to it but I was not game to go there today.
These are some more of the Ten Peaks.
I worked my way back to that big boulder where the marmots make their home.
By now the snow was softening and I was no longer able to easily walk on top of it. I followed in the steps, some very deep, already there and aimed to get back to the snowless area. By now others were coming to the upper valley. I was glad to have been there while the snow was firm. It was work to get back to this point. This was a good spot to rest and have some snacks.
I took another break at the bridge. I kept lingering about not wanting to leave. There were a few others on their way up, we exchanged pleasantries and they asked for a report of conditions further along the trail. I lingered a little longer cherishing the peace and quiet and the beauty. I know I will not experience that here again until possibly this time next year.
This is such a beautiful part of Banff National Park.
I don't take for granted the time I get to spend here so cherish every second I do.
Today was everything I wished it to be!