Occasionally, a little magic happens.
This short, scenic walk is completely wheelchair accessible.
On the return from short, easy hikes at Dog Lake and Cobb Lake to the Village of Radium Hot Springs, heavy weather is rapidly consuming sunny skies, but the left turn, traveling south on Highway 93, into the roadside parking area for the Olive Lake Picnic Area is a spontaneous opportunity to embrace a late afternoon sightseeing opportunity. The tiny and pristine emerald lake is only 13 KM (8 miles) north (and a right turn) from the Village of Radium Hot Springs.
Typically, this easily accessible and touristy attraction is very busy and this day is no exception. The paved parking area is full and a tiny vehicle becomes an advantage to wedge into a small, gravel space at the end of parking. On the short, casual stroll to the interpretive signage near the trailhead and above the covered picnic pavilion, a very light drizzle begins. The small roof over the interpretive plaques immediately provides three important benefits.
First, the well-presented information offers fascinating historical insight into this location, second, protection from the light rain and third, the obstacle prevents being trampled to death by the throngs of people evacuating the attraction to avoid getting wet.
Within a few short moments, Olive Lake is evacuated in anticipation of heavier rain. The warm-afternoon, light drizzle is remarkably refreshing and the short walk to the car for an umbrella hardly seems worthwhile. How unlikely is it that circumstance provides the opportunity to explore this tiny and significantly historical site entirely alone?
The walk proceeds past the typically moss-covered roof of the site toilets. Short side trails lead through short forest access to forest-enclosed picnic tables as the wide and groomed main trail continues relatively straight towards the Y- junction near the north end of Olive Lake.
Archaeological discoveries over past decades have confirmed tiny, green Olive Lake, near the summit at Sinclair Pass, served as a meeting place where many centuries of native hunting parties camped by the shores of the spring-fed oasis.
First recorded, non-indigenous explorers were three English 19th Century explorers with pack horses who fought the inhospitable terrain along Sinclair Creek to arrive at idyllic Olive Lake on August 26, 1887, documented from journals of the time and made public in the book B.C. 1887: A Ramble in British Columbia by J.A. Lees and W.J. Clutterbuck.
In 1928 the Banff - Windermere Parkway (Highway 93) was completed and Tin Lizzies hauling new tourists and campers began the rapid expansion of the recreational area.
At the lake adjacent junction, trail and boardwalk to the left continues beneath tall trees to viewing platforms which overlook the beautiful, pristine emerald lake ending at the clear-water spring source which perpetually feeds Olive Lake. The tall trees provide shelter from the very light and incredibly refreshing rain. Photographs are taken with the camera purposely angled to prevent water spots on the lens. The overwhelming peace and natural aroma of this place is therapeutic in these unusual circumstances. There is something magic about a walk in the rain and today's conditions are a precisely perfect gift.
One clear water spring source for Olive Lake in Kootenay National Park
The other (west) side of the lake hosts the highway and the muffled sound of traffic is periodically evident through the light rain. A quick return walk to the "Y" junction begins the short walk along the alternate fork which passes a square area bordered with logs to form an idyllic picnic area before the wheelchair compatible trail ends at a wooden viewing platform providing sweeping views south from the north shore of the lake. Cars travelling along Highway 93 above the west shoreline of Olive Lake are barely visible through the plumes of spray created from the wet surface.
The impromptu visit to Olive Lake in exceptional circumstances completes with the short stroll past the entrance kiosk and picnic pavilion to the nearly empty parking area. As the short drive to accommodation in the Village of Radium Hot Springs begins, the light rain stops and the heat of renewed sun creates glowing and dramatic, dense fog from evaporation on the rain-drenched highway for the mystical drive to and through Sinclair Canyon. The unusual circumstances of the unplanned event create an indelibly unique memory. Right place, right time. Magic!
Fishing for Brook Trout is a popular recreational activity at Olive Lake with a Park Pass and a fishing License available from the Visitor Centre in the Village of Radium Hot Springs. Colorful Brook Trout were introduced to Olive Lake in 1887 (?) and fish stocking occurred in the 1940's, 50's and 60's.
Photographs are captured at Olive Lake in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada on Tuesday, August 9, 2016.