Friday, July 30, 2010

Banff's Other Lake

We left Lake Louise, convinced that we had been privileged to observe some of Nature's most beautiful scenery.

The day's trip had been worth the drive--and it wasn't even noon yet.

We headed toward Banff, but after only a few miles, we saw the turn for Moraine Lake. Since we had plenty of time, we took the road that we thought was less traveled.

Well, at the end of that road, on our right, above Moraine Lake Lodge, was Mt. Temple, the third highest peak (11,636 feet) in Banff National Park.

Directly in front of us were some of the peaks in the Valley of the Ten Peaks (the series of ten mountain peaks that runs from the edge of the lake along the left side of the entire valley).

And at the base of those mountains was the lesser-known, but equally beautiful, lake in the Park--Moraine Lake.

This Lake has the most vivid turquoise imaginable, which is caused by fine particles of glacial silt, or till, known as rock flour.

Moraine Lake was named by Walter Wilcox on the assumption that it was dammed by a glacial moraine (a deposit of earth and stones that is carried by a glacier) left from the retreating Wenkchemna Glacier.

The lake's name is particularly appropriate because it is glacially fed, and the sediment and minerals give it its distinctive color.

Just to the left of this array of logs was a huge pile of large rocks. At the time, I didn't realize the significance of this rockpile, so I have no photo of it; but it now appears that this rockpile damming the lake is a result of a rockslide off Mount Babel rather than a glacially-formed moraine.

Looking from the Rockpile reveals the same view--the lake encircled by mountains--that was on the back of Canada’s old $20 bill.

So with that type of recognition and with these magnificent views, it is hard to describe Moraine Lake as the lesser-known lake in the park.

We caught a glimpse of this golden-mantled ground squirrel nibbling on something.

We resumed our drive to Banff for lunch with these views along the route being added to the memories of scenes from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the mountains of Banff National Park.

We saw about six of these innovative overpasses along our drive to Banff--innovative in that they effectively provide safe routes that animals can use to cross the highway. Fences line the highway between these overpasses.

(Reminder: You can double click on any of the photos to enlarge the image.)

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