Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/23/2016

Photo taken on January 22, 2016

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winter wonderland
Rocky Mountains
Lake Louise
Banff National Park
Anne Elliott
mountain scene
22 January 2016

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Now THIS is winter!

Now THIS is winter!
All three photos posted today were taken yesterday, 22 January 2016, when I was fortunate enough to get a place on a bus trip to Lake Louise and the annual Ice Sculpture display, Banff National Park, in the Rocky Mountains. It is a two-hour drive west of Calgary. Of course, any time a bus trip is organized way ahead of the day, you have no idea what the weather is going to be like. The weather was grim all day, with snow all day long, turning to really heavy, wet snow when we stood in the parking lot at the end of the day. No sign of the sun, which made photography a real challenge. There were so many people visiting the area that it was more or less impossible to get photos without at least a few people included. Even the mountains had mostly disappeared. Our bus driver, Tim, did a wonderful job of getting us to the lake and all the way back to Calgary. I was just so thankful that I wasn't driving!

This is one of my favourite views at Lake Louise, looking along a small creek with the mountains and the small, wooden cabin in the distance. The Chateau Lake Louise is behind me and most of the frozen lake is off to the right of my photo.

Some of the group chose to snowshoe, others to walk, and others to join Anne Belton's group for birding. I was expecting a stroll along the lake shore and around the Chateau grounds, lol, but instead we did a hike along the creek all the way to Lake Louise Village, roughly 4.2 km! The trail was very narrow - wide enough for heavy winter boots and icers plus maybe a couple of inches on either side. If you were unlucky enough to walk an inch further, you would have one leg plunge into snow up to your knee or higher. I was so thankful that this didn't happen to me, but it did mean that my eyes were looking downwards all the time instead of soaking up the glorious, snow-covered forest. The snow was so thick on the trees and when it became just too heavy for a branch to support, you stood the risk of being snow-bombed from high above. A lot of the trail was downhill - never fun in such conditions, but we all took it very slowly, though there were several tumbles or someone would end up travelling on their rear end. Not the easiset hike, but the surroundings couldn't have been more beautiful. Thankfully, the bus driver had driven down to the Village ready to pick us up and take us back uphill to the Lake.

As for the birds yesterday, well, they obviously didn't particularly like the grey, snowy day and stayed in hiding, other than several Common Ravens, a couple of Magpies, one or two Clark's Nutcrackers and two House Sparrows. Back at the Chateau, two of the birders did see a very distant Stellar's Jay - always a lovely bird to see, but it was too far for them to get photos.

We had time to wander round the Ice Scuptures area, in front of the Chateau. Some amazing work created by sculptors from various parts of the world.

"Winter comes alive in iconic Lake Louise, Alberta. Ice Magic Festival, January 15 - 24, 2016 is a world class event with over 20 years under its belt. Talented ice artists from around the world delicately balance grueling physical labour with precision artistry in a 34 hour International Ice Carving Competition.

Jaw-dropping scenery sets the stage as ice carving teams of 2 create sculptures illustrating their interpretations of our chosen theme for 2016: Earth, Wind, Fire & Water - Elements of Life." Taken from link below. I love that the prize money for this competition is only a comparativey small amount, which I think shows that the carvers do what they do for love of the art, not for the money : )

Team Ice Carving Competition
1st Place: $2,500
2nd Place: $1,500
3rd Place: $750
Carver's Choice: $750
People's Choice: $500

One Carver, One Hour, One Block
1st Place: $1,000
2nd Place: $300
3rd Place: $200
People's Choice: $250

So, a wonderful day trip for us all in breathtaking surroundings. I am especially appreciative, as I don't drive to the mountains, so rarely get to see them. Many thanks to FLC for doing such a great job of organizing this most enjoyable day for us. Thanks to Anne Belton for taking some of us on a beautiful hike through the forest. Definitely a day to remember.

Phil Lewis has particularly liked this photo