The Beauty of Lake O'Hara
By: Brian Merry
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to go into Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park which is just over the continental divide west of Lake Louise. I had some free days and luckily booked a campsite at the lake O’Hara campground, which is often booked 3 months in advance.
I enjoy going up there to get away from the stress of work and to photograph in one of the most beautiful places in the Canadian Rockies. This place is truly remarkable. As I walk down the trail, it seems like there’s a world class landscape location to photograph every few hundred meters or so.
After checking in at the parking lot next to the Trans Canada highway, I rode the bus up to the Lake arriving late in the afternoon. My goal before sunset was to get up high to shoot a panorama from the Odaray Grandview lookoutm which has a commanding view of the entire Lake O’Hara region. I wanted to capture this image so that I could share it at my Landscape Seminar on Aug. 30th. Since it was late, I promptly took off hiking at a fast pace to get there in time.
Shortly after I started my hike from the bus drop off point, I came to the Elizabeth Parker Hut. As I walked by, I heard someone call out my name. It was Kelly Mager, a friend and a professional backcountry cook. She spent this week up at the hut cooking for a Alpine Club of Canada trip. She’s also going to be cooking during the Lake O’Hara tour workshop that I am hosting in early September. It’s nice to bump into friends in the remote backcountry and we had a brief chat about the upcoming trip before I went on my way.
I hiked the 2.5 km and 400 vertical meters quickly and found myself at the Grandview lookout, close to halfway up Odaray Mountain, by six o’clock. This gave me lots of time to relax and shoot the panorama, while taking in the peaceful expanse while I “worked”. It was heavenly. In moments like this I remember why I choose to continue to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Life is good.
After finishing up, I noticed that the sunset on the mountain peaks was going to be good and I thought that the flowers on the lakeshore would be a great foreground for the sunset. I stared hiking fast/running down the trail to get to the lake before the sun went down which I barely made in time. I photographed a nice sunset. However, the best part of that session was teaching a bystander how to use one of my graduated ND filters in front of her point and shoot camera to take a pretty good snapshot of the sunset. I love it when I teach someone something about photography and I see the light bulb go off in their head as they “get it” with a big smile on their face.
Photography has become a spiritual process for me over the years and I like to call places like Lake O’Hara “my Church,” as I enjoy the beauty created all around me and I help others to experience it through photography I share.
Some days I feel like I’m the luckiest man on earth. Tuesday was one of those days.