Since moving to the Canadian Rockies in 2014, this year has been the harshest winter that I’ve experienced by far. However, for all the extreme low temperatures and the piles of snow that has dumped on us, there is something magical about exploring the mountains when they are snow covered and the lakes frozen over. With a little bit of extra preparation for the extreme weather, getting out and exploring in the winter on your Canada trip is always rewarding.
Emerald Lake is found in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. During the summer months the water is a vivid blue colour and I love to come here kayak and hike around the lake. However when we arrived this time the lake was frozen over and the winter tones resemble a scene straight out of a fairy tale. The water’s ice was so thick that we were able to put on our snowshoes and walk around on it.
During the winter months the flowing rivers freeze to a standstill and can become pathways awaiting to be explore. On this occasion we decided to go to Grotto Canyon located near the hamlet of Exshaw.
The mouth of the canyon is situated under the peak of Grotto Mountain. We attached crampons to our footware and hiked on top of the river into the canyon. The highlight of the hike was walking up to a waterfall which had frozen solid to the rockface.
The trailhead to Boom Lake is located near Castle Junction in Banff National Park. We decided that this would be the perfect trail to do some snowshoeing in the mountains.
The payoff of hiking these trails in the winter is that we do not have to share it with many other hikers and travellers on their Canada trip as is the case in the busier summer. The trail took us on an incline for 5km until we reached the lake. When we did reach the lake we had it all to ourselves. It was a beautiful and surreal experience to stand by the lakeside surrounded by the spectacular mountainous rampart.
Vermillion Lakes in one of my favourite places to catch a sunset. In the summer months Rundle Mountain will reflect in the lakes’ waters. But during the winter months the water freezes solid and it is not uncommon to see people sweep aside snow so that they can skate on the ice.
The frozen bubbles in this shot are caused by methane given off by the vegetation at the bottom of the lake. As I stood on the ice taking this shot the cold soon penetrated my boots and gloves. It wasn’t long before I had to retire to the car with frozen fingers and toes.
I’d seen so many spectacular photos of Castle Mountain shot from the banks of Bow River in Banff National Park but had never taken one myself. We arrived there at sunrise to watch the light illuminate the mountain’s face.
When we stepped out of the car the temperature was already freezing, but as we walked down towards the river I felt an extra chill from the water. My pup Taco loved diving around in the snow as I tried to capture the scene. We didn’t stay to long, as my fingers soon became numb in the cold even through my thermal gloves.
I hope our adventures in winter inspire you to take a Canada trip at this magical time.