Sunday, October 13, 2013

Return to Larch Valley

Trip Date: October 2013

It had been three years to the month since the last time we were in Larch Valley.  For a recap of our first adventure please see my Moraine Lake & Larch Valley post.  Friends of ours from Regina were in town for the weekend and wanted to head to the mountains for a day-hike.  At this time of year the choice is easy as Larch Valley is the place to be!  Even though it's always crowded, if you've never been, the mountain scenery and the golden Larch Trees are worth the trip, at least once!  

The hike itself is about 8.5km round trip with 535m gained in elevation.  The trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking area, which is approximately 11km from Lake Louise and about 200km west of Calgary along the Trans Canada Highway in Banff National Park.

Also of note is the annual trail restriction that starts in mid-July for the Moraine Lake area.  Hiking parties must be in tight groups of four or more to reduce the risk of unwanted wildlife encounters.  There were exactly four of us, and one dog, on the day's outing so we wouldn't have any issues with Parks Canada employees and hopefully wouldn't run into any bears!  

Moraine Lake sitting in the Valley of the Ten Peaks
The beautiful turquoise water of Moraine Lake as viewed from the trail
The golden Larch Trees in Larch Valley
Tower of Babel as viewed from above Larch Valley
The first Minestimma Lake (foreground) and the Fay Glacier between the Peaks of Mt. Babel and Mt. Bowlen
Eiffel Peak
Pinnacle Mountain
The second Minestimma Lake sits at the base of Sentinel Pass.  If you look closely you can see the snow-covered trail that winds up to the summit of Sentinel Pass.  Sentinel Pass sits between Pinnacle Mountain and Mt. Temple (right).
Christine and Sharon beside the second Minestimma Lake.  This was where we stopped for lunch and was also our turn-around point for the afternoon.
Sharon and Janson with the Valley of the Ten Peaks in the background
Christine, Rome, Janson, and Sharon hiking back down the trail
Sharon sitting in an oddly-shaped tree
I wrote a brief story for the Calgary Guardian called Those Golden Larches that was featured on their website in October 2014.

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