Morning Light


A long time ago when my knees were young and the thought of hefting a 40lb backpack filled me with joy and anticipation, I would make my way to Lake O’Hara to celebrate the beginning of summer.  

Lake O’Hara is a very special place, my favourite in all the Canadian Rockies (located in Yoho National Park, astride the Alberta / BC border).   The lake is surrounded by gorgeous mountains, hanging valleys, waterfalls and a plethora of hikes on excellent trails.  

Access is limited to only a few busloads of people per day  You will never find the hordes that gather at nearby Lake Louise.  But you can pull up a rock and watch the sun rise and imbibe the tranquil air, which is obliterated only occasionally by the call of a loon or the squawk of a raven.  And you may not see a single person.

Truly the best time to explore Lake O’Hara is very early in the morning.  At summer’s start, the morning sun discovers the mountain peaks around 4:30am and fills south-facing valleys by 5:30.  At this hour, the air is crisp and very clear — the altitude at the lakeshore is almost 7000 feet — and the temperature can hover just above freezing.

Every detail in the mountains is sharp.  Sounds of bird squabbles echo across the lake, mingling with the soft lapping of water on the rocks near my feet.  There is an earthy smell of freshness, life, and exuberance. 

I move as quickly as possible from one location to the next, praying this amazing morning light will last just a few minutes more.  And even when it doesn’t, the beauty of photography is that these brief moments can be saved and savoured for a lifetime.

- Mike