Golden Larch Fest: Lake Louise

September 26
We departed Abbotsford on Saturday to drive to Lake Louise (it’s about an 8-hour trip). The fact we arrived there by the afternoon meant a ramble by Lake Louise – a great way to end the day and provide a leg stretcher. Fairview Lookout offers a lovely and quieter bench to see the lake and rock sentinels.

Trip to Lake Louise for Golden Larch Fest
Ron and Karin Dart admiring the vistas and larches at Taylor Lake (Photo credit: All article photos courtesy of Ron Dart)

September 27
Karin and I rented E-Bikes from Wilson’s in the Hamlet of Lake Louise. We rode 48 km that day. In the morning, we experienced the Great Divide Road, a former highway and place to nordic ski in the winter, just down the hill from Lake Louise and the towering Chateau.

We then rode through the wooden portal (see photo) to Lake O’Hara parking lot and back (26 km). The Moraine Lake parking lot was packed, so we biked the 22 km return trip to Moraine Lake and back in the afternoon. You’ll see plenty of golden larches, and ten ‘not-to-miss’ snow- packed peaks with a cathedral of white snow.

Golden Larch Fest - Riding the E-Bike through the Great Divide
Ron Dart riding along the Great Divide Road near Lake Louise on an E-Bike.

September 28
The next day we trekked to Saddleback Pass, leaving at dawn. The parking lot was not quite as full. Yet the golden larches were at their exquisite best; the colourful forest was like a lantern glowing with sheer beauty. Saddleback Pass once had a tea hut but it’s now faded and forgotten history. We lingered
and loafed at Saddleback bathing in the light and warmth of the sunshine, debating whether we hike Fairview Peak, and trek back via the Paradise-Sheol or return along the route we came. Multiple photos were taken from various angles; we were mesmerized by the golden larch’s beauty.

The Golden Larches at Lake Louise

September 29
Our journey began with a visit to Ruthie Oltmann in Exshaw. Ruthie wrote the first guidebook for travelers to Kananaskis. The guide also includes the biography of the legendary Lizzie Rummel, a close friend.

The guidebook referred us to climb up the solid and artistic rock steps to Lake Oesa – and on the magnificent rock steps beside the cascading waterfalls at Grassi Lakes (named after Lawrence Grassi), where we spent the afternoon afterwards visiting Ruthie.

If you’re looking for a good read, check out the recent biography of Lawrence Grassi. It’s worth the read!

Needless to say, the golden larches were ever abundant. It was a worthwhile trek through the narrow canyon to yet a higher lake for the many rock climbers at the far end of upper Grassi Lake.

September 30
If you want to take in grandoir beauty, travel to see the golden larches at O’Brien Lake, just above Taylor Lake. The ridge above Taylor Lake provides a short ramble to explore outstanding
vistas and larches in their autumn galore. Many go to the Larch Valley-Sentinel above Moraine Lake to see the golden larches, but Taylor and Saddleback put on a finer show.

While Karin and I were sitting by Taylor Lake, we admired when the mist and clouds lifted to reveal fresh snow-clothed mountains. We were also delighted and surprised to meet Martin-Sue Abegg (who were in Lake Louise for the week).

We spent a couple of hours with our friends at Taylor Lake. We rested at the hostel in Lake Louise later that night.

October 1
We returned to Abbotsford again, but not without pleasurable and fond memories of the golden larch fest.

Golden Larches

Rock cathedrals, dusting of snow on them,
gaze down, silent, much seen.
They will last the winter.
They have weathered many storms and winters.

Spring and summer season of the journey finished for the golden larches,
no return to beginnings,
their season in time over and done.

Final autumn gift, thin needles turn
golden yellow, high alpine trails
carpeted in soft larch middens,
pathways to walk for those,
carving their way to the high regions,
easing their journey,
trees aglow like lanterns,
beckoning to another dimension.

Snow returns, golden needles fade,
return to the soil,
final autumn phase bountiful beauty,
a royal road for others to walk.

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