Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

 

Rae Glacier in Kananaskis Country is one source of water for the Elbow River into Calgary, Alberta.

 

 

The hike is 4 kilometers (2½ miles) into the Rae Glacier.  The weather forecast calls for rain.

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Fall color on the trail to Elbow Lake in Kananaskis Country

 

Fall color in the Southern Alberta area, at higher altitudes, is bright and varied but predominantly yellow.

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Arrival at Elbow Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The day is overcast and occasional, light drizzle falls from a low hanging ceiling.  The hike begins from Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) at the Elbow Pass parking area followed by an aggressive and mercifully short climb up the hill.  There are a few folks camping and fishing at Elbow Lake as good trail veers south through a wide variety of terrain including scree and rolling moraines to complete the hike into the foot of Rae Glacier, headwater for the Elbow River flowing to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Shoreline and mountain views at Elbow Lake in Kananaskis Country

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada On the hiking trail between Elbow Lake and Mount Rae

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Rae Glacier in the background

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Moraine viewpoint with Rae Glacier beyond

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Access is through valley created by Rae Glacier over thousands of years

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Approaching the toe of Rae Glacier in Kananaskis Country

 

The temperature is much cooler at the glacier.  During lunch, at the top of a nearby moraine, cloud cover drops 300 m (1,000 ft) and obliterates the views of the Rae Glacier.  The surroundings are very mystical and this rolling cloud phenomena is not unusual near the cold surfaces of glaciers.  The timing for the hike has been perfect.

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view back from the toe of the Rae Glacier

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Rae Glacier up close and personal

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Under the ice close to water flow at the Rae Glacier

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Retreating across the mud flat at Rae Glacier in Kananaskis Country

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ceilings suddenly drop and obliterate views of Rae Glacier

 

Following lunch on the remanants of a lateral moraine, the hike drops down into the approach valley then proceeds up again past a beautiful, cascading waterfall to an adjacent talus field which may be a lake in early Spring but is a dry rock basin at this time of the year.

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Bright flowers punctuate the barren, unforgiving scree moraines

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Cascading waterfall from a 'dry' lake

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The dry lake

 

The lake's surface is underground but the waterfall occurring through the natural talus dam confirms the existence of a drainage from distant slopes.

 

Rae Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Elbow River source at Elbow Lake on the return hike

 

Following a brief interruption for onion rings and Big Rock Traditional at the Kananaskis Delta Hotel, the drive from the Elbow Lake trail-head returns to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The Rae Glacier hike is generally best done in late summer.

 

Tomorrow's hike will venture through Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass above Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.  Anyone who has enjoyed this hike will understand why the hike is such a special experience during the third week of September.

Group hiking rules will be in the place and very early day day may help to find parking and partially avoid the throngs of people who make this an annual sojourn

 

 

 

 

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