Autumn in the Canadian Rockies

When a freak autumn storm blew in to the Cascades, dumping snow and packing winds in excess of 50 MPH, our long-anticipated eight day backpacking trip to the Enchantment Lakes was suddenly not looking like such a great idea. After a series of long-distance phone calls and a flurry of e-mails, we shifted direction and headed to the Canadian Rockies, where the weather situation was looking markedly better. I have enjoyed ramblings in these magnificent mountains for many years – especially in autumn when the trails are empty and the larches are aglow. Hiking to some favorite haunts (the Lake O’Hara area in Yoho National Park and Wilcox Pass in Jasper National Park), we were delighted to find ourselves surrounded by these massive peaks, icefields, larch forests, and the radiant turquoise lakes  for which the Canadian Rockies are famous. We also found solitude. Was it cold? Well, sure. Morning temperatures reached 16 degrees F and OK, the water bottles froze solid in our tents, but the luscious northern light (when it deigned to break through clouds heavy with snow) was a revelation and sharing evenings around the campfire with good friends each night was an unmitigated joy.

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