The return of the prodigal tourist

21 months ago Nellie and I took a bus up to a spot in Yoho called Lake O’Hara, where we then hiked up to another lake called Oesa. It was one of the most incredible places we’d ever been to, almost like a natural cathedral. There was no one else around, the water was perfect…it was perfect. We took a few pictures, but decided to take a video to capture most of the cirque. We then hiked back down and took a bus back to the disappointing world before we realized that the video didn’t work. The camera was new, we were still figuring it out…we were not very pleased with ourselves. We resolved to go back and try again.

Way back in November we booked two nights at Lake O’Hara Lodge so that we wouldn’t have to worry about bus times when deciding which hikes to do. We also booked a lakeside cabin so we’d have a nice view…and man, do we ever. I think we actually got the best view of any lakeside cabin…no trees in front of our porch and we stare straight out at the lake and up at the Oesa cirque. Amazing.

I’m happy to say that today we made it back to Oesa, though it was quite a different experience. First, there were a LOT of people on the trail…not like last time when we only encountered a few other hikers, and none on our entire journey up. We were also much less lucky with the weather this time; our first time up we got sunny and +15 instead of the -1 and flurries that was forecast. Today the forecast was rain and rain it did. We were just coming back down when it started, and we got well and truly soaked. Luckily the sun came out immediately after (during, to be completely accurate) and we were dry by the time we got back down. We also saw more animals this time: a marmot to go along with the chipmunks, mice and pikas (which we saw last time). We had a better lunch this time (the lodge packs a trail lunch for you…some yummy wraps and veggies and an apple and nuts and a cookie!) which we sat and ate at Oesa. Finally, the biggest difference: we couldn’t see the beautiful blue water of the lake; it’s still frozen over. On the plus side, the snow cap was much bigger; we could see little snow slides happening way above us.

The hike itself was spectacular, just like last time. The view of Lake O’Hara and the lodge, the towering mountains all around, the glaciers hanging off ledges, the lakes and streams and waterfalls…it’s about as rewarding a 4-hour hike as I can imagine. Of course, it wouldn’t take that long normally, but Nellie’s knees were really bothering her by the time we turned for home so it was slow going. I also found, when we got back to the cabin after the traditional post-hike carrot cake, that my neck is massively sunburned. Take those two things, add in the weather forecast (more rain) and the fact that the next trail we really want to do – Lake MacArthur – is still too snowy in parts, and I think the plan for tomorrow has been altered to just be a simple hike around Lake O’Hara itself, maybe some canoing, and possibly some sitting on the porch and reading while we stare at one of the most spectacular views ever. I don’t think that would suck so bad.

We had dinner at the lodge tonight…pretty damn good. Tasty salad, parsnip soup, a vegetable & goat cheese brochette (?) and a rhubarb mousse for dessert, along with some very tasty microbrews and a nice bottle of BC Riesling. It occurred to us that we were WAY under the average age – most people at the lodge seem to be retirees – but the entire staff is very young, and our wine steward (who’s from New Glasgow and went to SMU!) liked us. After dinner we decided to take another walk around O’Hara and get some shots with the different light. We got some really nice ones, including one of an arctic hare near the cabins. We came back and relaxed on the front porch with a book and a sip of wine…it’s now 10:13 and we just retired from the porch…it’s still light outside!

It kills me that I can’t blog or upload pictures right now. Y’all would die of jealousy if you could see this view. Night!

[tags]lake o’hara, lake oesa[/tags]

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