Marion Lake is a pristine oasis along the route to Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park.
Marion Lake is a pristine, sub-alpine gem perched beneath Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada. An early start heading west on the TransCanada Highway from Palliser Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort above Golden, BC leads to the drive uphill through large, long avalanche sheds into the chilly mist at Rogers Pass.
Glacier Park Lodge, a long-standing rest stop and source of accommodation, is permanently closed and boarded up. Parks Canada's Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is closed in early morning, but we stop to wander and observe recent renovations.
Rogers Pass has a fascinating history of discovery, adventure and the establishment of the transcontinental railway. Recent renovation and new exhibits at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre document the power and circumstance of a corridor through avalanche terrain. Trail links here include Balu Pass and the Abandoned Rails Trail.
The living grass roof on Rogers Pass Centre has been restored and a new façade has been added during renovations to the Parks Canada Information and Interpretive Centre in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
The drive continues west past the Rogers Pass Summit Monument, downhill to the eyes-wide-open, all-senses-alert, tight-knuckle left turn across oncoming traffic approaching from an uphill bend, into the farthest lot of Illecillewaet Campground parking. A short, straight walk uphill on gravel road and a right turn at the Alpine Club of Canada , A. O. Wheeler Hut, onto the 1885 Rails Trail, crosses a stone arch bridge over the glacial silt-laden Illecillewaet River and swings gently downhill to the Glacier House Historical Monument. A left turn onto the right branch of the Glacier House Interpretive Trail wanders past stone foundation relics of Glacier House which rivaled some of the finest hotels in the world between 1886 and 1925. This was a grand era snuffed out by danger and tragedy. The clearly marked Abbott Ridge Trail takes off to the right (west) and begins to ascend immediately through typical British Columbia lush green forest.
The 2.5 KM (1⅝ mile) one-way trail to Marion Lake at 1,700 m (5,577 ft) gains 425 m (1,394 ft) of elevation. Benches are spaced out along the route to enjoy a rest from the consistent, moderate ascent and to enjoy occasional expansive valley vistas.
Green lichen (Witch's Hair) growing from an overhead dead branch and illuminated by a sunbeam above the trail to Marion Lake and Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada. The black lichen is known as 'Old Man's Beard'
Spectacular views begin to unfold on the approach to Marion Lake. At the lake a signed, short spur trail to the right leads to a viewpoint with sweeping vistas over this spectacular valley through the Selkirk Mountains. Hiking has proceeded into a temperature inversion. Higher altitude air is warmer with assistance from sun rising over the mountains and casting long shadows through surrounding forest above cloud settled in the valley beneath between current location and the Hermit Range hosting the Tupper Glacier and Mount Tupper which looms above the well hidden Rogers Pass Discovery Centre. The long lens reveals the 'hermit' stone pinnacle on Mount Tupper which is the namesake for the popular, short, steep and challenging Hermit Trail.
Tiny, but distinct, rock pinnacle features along the summit ridge of Mount Tupper resemble a person standing guard over the valley. This is the feature for which the Hermit Trail is named. Close by is 'the Hermit's' canine companion. Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Marion Lake is named for the daughter of William Spotswood Green, one of the original late 1800's explorers in this area. The lake's water is still and perfectly reflective. Rustic, damp trail skirts the border adjacent to the Abbott Ridge Trail in this beautiful place changing dynamically in slow motion as rising sun filters through forest to cast long shadows across the lake.
From the far side, the sun ignites the bottom of the small, shallow, sub-alpine lake which exists because a glacier carved out a shallow bowl eons ago. Lakes in this type of terrain are uncommon which makes the experience even more unique. Time is spent here to photograph this beautiful little lake in ideal conditions.
Abbott Ridge rises in the background above Marion Lake in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Warming air generates mist on the surface of the cool water.
Marion Lake is a photographic paradise of endless compositions in a dynamically changing environment.
Marion Lake, Glacier National Park, BC, Canada
Leave this beautiful place is difficult but the objective is substantially more lofty with additional wonders to explore. There remains substantial elevation and many kilometers to pass beneath feet. Marion Lake is a delightful stop along the route to the incredible vistas from the top of Abbott Ridge.
The entire day will turn out to be much longer and more arduous than could possibly have been anticipated.
Photographs for this post were taken on August 7, 2013.
Abbott Ridge offers uncompromised views over Glacier National Park and fires the initiative and imagination for subsequent adventures.