The cold crisp weather would time and again invigorate our spirits as we trekked through the tundra surrounding Banff and Lake Louise. One could not help being awe-struck by natural wonders great and small. These discoveries ranged from tiny bits of nature poking through the snow covered ground to the majesty of the Canadian Rockies cutting a rugged profile across the winter landscape.
We departed early on the second day to catch the morning light on Mount Victoria at Lake Louise. The distant views were gorgeous. Close at hand was the added appeal of the ice castle, skating rink and numerous ice sculptures. A visit to the Fairmont Hotel proved more than just a chance to warm up, as the outstanding architecture yielded many interesting photo opportunities. Next, we rode up the Lake Louise gondolas for a planned action photo shoot of fast, daring snowboarders, black eye and all. There were candid moments to catch other snowboarders and skiers, prepping before their run down the mountain.
Afternoon brought impressive views of photo worthy Castle Mountain. Instruction was given on how to "stitch" together multiple shots, and many trekkers created glorious panoramas. We continued riding through the countryside making various stops to capture the beauty and intrigue of the nature surrounding us.
Day three dawned on the splendor of Johnson Canyon, where a feeling of winter wonderland prevailed. We wandered over catwalks and pathways leading us through the rocky canyon to vantage points for the lower and upper falls. This time ice climbers impressed us with their strength and agility as they scaled up the side of the frozen mountain and iced over falls. The 2,292 foot afternoon ride in the Banff gondola once again reminded us of the grandeur of this Canadian trek. Evening was a time to unwind and warm up at the historic bath house and spa in Banff Upper Hot Springs. The hot mineral pools were a refreshing change from cold fingers and toes and was the perfect way to relax before that night's digital review.
Sunrise on the fourth day brought a brilliant orange glow on the mountain top that was far too short lived. We then spent several hours photographing Lake Minnewanka and the areas around shore. Another stop allowed us distant views of Banff Springs Hotel nestled against the mountains. Our next stop had many trekkers trying to capture the raven flying across the scene. His call taunted us as he circled behind us and made his photo presence scarce. The hazy sky there gave many pictures a black and white quality. The following site was Vermillion Lakes, the third of which was fed by a hot spring. Who could forget the famous stump, upstaged only by the hot chocolate and tasty pastries? That evening the mentors took us on a walking tour to the center of Banff. The quaint town and its snowflake lighting imparted a special warm street setting.
The last morning featured the drive up into the mountains for an unforgettable dog sledding expedition.
After a humorous training session, we were led to our sleds to meet our eagerly awaiting dogs. We traveled throughout the pine-lined paths and over the frozen lake on our circle back to the dog camp. Many dogs nuzzled their noses in the snow to cool down after the run, while we met around the campfire and drank warm cider to take off the chill.
The final slideshow featured brilliant work. I am grateful to my fellow trekkers who thoughtfully captured the essence of this trip with their well executed photography. Many thanks to our personable mentors Dan and Layne for patient teaching and sharing of incredible experience and knowledge. Thank you, also, to our terrific leader, Michelle, whose constant refining of the schedule optimized our Banff trek. If Banff would be offered every year, I would be the first one on each list.