Idyllic Herbert Lake on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta.
Today's plan will hike the Bow Summit region along the Icefields Parkway and perform a free form hiking and sightseeing mission between Lake Louise and the Town of Banff in Alberta, Canada.
Driving west from Calgary on the TransCanada Highway the sunrise is painting the tips of familiar mountains orange and pink on the drive through Canmore and past the Town of Banff.
A few kilometers past Lake Louise, clear signage points north for Hwy. 93, and the Icefields Parkway, which is undeniably one of the most spectacular rides on the planet.
Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) between Banff and Jasper
The first stop will be at the days most northerly point of the drive before heading back south towards Lake Louise and home to Calgary.
At the Peyto Lake trail-head, there is a six-foot snow-pack which is more than expected. After layering up on this cool, crisp, calm and clear day the chosen trail to Bow Summit is buried under several feet of crusty snow which is predominantly load-bearing.
The day is warming up and, as elevation is gained, the route approaches avalanche terrain. Hiking solo, this risk will be avoided and the consolation prize is settling for outstanding vistas over frozen Peyto Lake. The stunning lake, shaped like a fox, and surrounded by majestic mountains is named after Ebenezer William (Bill) Peyto, famous guide, outfitter and early Park Warden.
Back at the trail-head parking lot a conversation with a young couple from Austria, who are skiing in Banff National Park, explains their ski season at home in Austria has been a disaster due to lack of snow. Apparently, all the snow is here this year.
View across Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Further south, views are stunning across the mirror surface of Herbert Lake, on the west side of the Icefields Parkway just south of Hector Lake and north of the TransCanada Highway (Hwy 1).
Herbert Lake along the Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Lunch in Lake Louise is followed by the short drive up to the Chateau Lake Louise for the outstanding and iconic view of the Plain of Six Glaciers at the far end of mountain-surrounded Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Castle Mountain is grand as sun from the south illuminates it's profile.
At Cave and Basin near the Town of Banff, there is an opportunity to hike into Sundance Canyon. The return hike is an easy 8 KMs (5 miles) and the canyon will be free of ice encountered on an earlier visit. Water flow is high. Sundance Canyon is a very beautiful and easy hike with wooden bridge crossings over the creek.
The reluctant drive home to Calgary provides relaxing reflection of a long, varied and grand day of adventure in the wilderness of Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The car’s air-conditioning system is required for the first time this year.