Monday, September 29, 2014

Larch Valley Trail and Sentinel Pass

Valley of the Ten Peaks with the Larches in their prime
 Winter is coming...but its not here yet! Mom and Dad came out to Calgary to visit for the weekend and I wanted to show them the best Alberta has to offer. We drove out to Lake Louise for a hike at Moraine Lake (which was my first ever hike in the Rockies, back on my first real visit to Calgary two years ago). The timing was perfect because all the larch trees were changing colour and the valley was beautiful. We also arrived at the parking lot just in time to grab one of the last spots, everyone else seemed to have the same idea as us.
Majestic dog in the sun
 There was a "group of 4" rule in effect for the trail, which was completely unnecessary, it was a solid train of people all the way up to the Larch Valley. If a grizzly had decided to show itself, it would have been drowned in bear spray!
Rest stop above the larch valley
Mom in the sun!
 We were able to pass most of the tourists that stopped at the first good photo spot, so when we got to the lake, the crowds had thinned out a bit. There was a quick, steep walk up to the top of Sentinel Pass, but the view was worth it! The switchbacks really aren't that bad anyways.  
Top of Sentinel Pass and a photobomber
Looking down to the Larch Valley and lake from the top of Sentinel Pass 
The Sentinel in the background 
Larches and a yellow trail from all the needles
Moraine Lake
Crazy, happy dog!
So we had a great day, got to experience the craziness that is Lake Louise and Banff, and finished the day off with a soak at the Banff Hot Springs! I highly recommend the trail (11km round trip ~3.5 hours with 730m of elevation gain to the pass), but suggest getting there early (before 9:30) in the fall to avoid the crowds. I think it gets a bit less crazy after the larches lose their needles.

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