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.
Fall color in the Southern Alberta area, at higher altitudes, is bright and varied but predominantly yellow.
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.
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.
Following lunch on the remnants 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.
The lake's surface is underground but the waterfall occurring through the natural talus dam confirms the existence of a drainage from distant slopes.
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 a very early day start may help to find parking and partially avoid the throngs of people who make this an annual sojourn