Rocky Mountain Fall (a fast season)

Fall is a fast season in the Canadian Rockies. We were out at Lake Louise in mid September, and there were tiny traces hinting at the end of summer. Last weekend, we were there again, and what a difference a couple of weeks makes!

Distinctly autumnal...
Distinctly autumnal…

There isn’t the largest variety of leaf colour here compared to the vibrant displays of the Eastern woodlands, but a golden larch or brilliant aspen can look quite delightful set against the dark greens of conifers. We set off on a moderate rated hike up to Taylor Lake, hopeful to see the larches that grow along the shores and above the slopes of the lake.

No larches yet, but great views!
No larches yet, but great views!

Now, a moderate rated hike is probably just that to a seasoned hiker, but to an old PlaidCamper who only has easy miles in his legs these days…well, I did make it. I’m moderately fit, can walk all day, but clearly I’m currently conditioned for long flat bits with occasional steeps. Fortunately, this hike starts on the flat (as many do) and then, less fortunately, begins a deceptive climb with inclines that are inclined to be steeper than I’d anticipated. Long steep bits with occasional flats! Honestly, what was I expecting? I’d read the trail notes, knew the elevation, but somehow mentally glossed over the going up part. Must be getting old(er!)


The going was better once I’d readjusted, accepting that a hike up to a lake is just that – up. The morning was chilly, particularly down in the low woods, with the sun barely breaking through. The forest floor was mossy and very damp, thanks to heavy overnight rain. Mushrooms had sprouted everywhere, a range of interesting shapes and sizes. The air had that weighty and intoxicating earthy autumnal tang. Wonderful!

Mushrooms everywhere...
Mushrooms everywhere…

We paused to admire the view and munch on energy giving snacks, and to remove layers as the day warmed up. There were quite a number of fellow hikers, but not so many with all the ascending turns that it ever felt crowded. Often, you’d see nobody behind or ahead thanks to the switchbacks. Folks were happy to be out, enjoying the sun, the scenery and their company. A group would sometimes pass at quite a pace, make me feel slow, and then we’d pass them a little later as they paused for a rest and drink break. (I always walked a little faster, and smiled like my legs weren’t feeling it. Childish, me?)

The perfect soundtrack
The perfect soundtrack

For long stretches, the trail was very muddy, which added an extra dimension (who doesn’t love extra heavy boots and the chance to slip in the mud?), and in other places, treacherously slippery logs formed the path, yet it all added to the charming challenge. There are a couple of wooden bridges crossing the stream that the trail follows for large parts of the hike. The splashing and bubbling of the stream is loud, a perfect musical accompaniment to your thoughts, and far preferable to the loudspeakers that some feel the need to carry when out hiking. (I’m not kidding – this year we’ve encountered two groups of hikers playing loud music to deter bears. Is this something new out on the trail? Be safe, carry spray, travel in a group where so advised, make noise, but please, please, please don’t bring your music. I understand the nervousness, and you don’t want a close bear encounter, but loud music isn’t the answer – the forest is the soundtrack!) Alright, calm down PlaidCamper.

Almost there...
Almost there…

We emerged from the forest into a meadow/wetland that signalled our imminent arrival at Taylor Lake. We started to glimpse the golden larches, and splurched (new word?) our way across the wetland toward the lake. It was beautiful! A pristine blue-green lake in the shadow of grey-brown mountains, and golden larches along the shore and up the slopes as hoped for. A fine reward! And there’s a small campground there. Hmm, planning already…

Stay awhile
Stay awhile

We stayed awhile, long enough to eat lunch and enjoy the sun appearing from behind clouds, lighting up the landscape. We scrambled and clambered along the shore a short distance, and found a quiet spot away from the small gathering of happy hikers. There we sat on lichen spotted rocks, reflecting on and taking in all that was around us.

Can't leave yet
Can’t leave yet

It was a reluctant departure, although the thought of an easier downhill return helped. We wandered back down to the trailhead, tired yet content on aching legs, and smiling encouragement at the hikers still on their way up. Not one slip or trip, and dry feet all the way, after a real test for our boots, with all the mud and the wetland at the top.

One last look back
One last look back

I know I pretend to grouch and make heavy weather about the uphill parts, but truthfully, what a great day, with the good fortune to enjoy a splendid trail and become moderately fitter! A chance to catch the fall before the season escapes and we are into winter.

Fleeting fall...
Fleeting fall…

Do you have an enjoyable – moderate – hike for the fall season? Thanks for reading, feel free to comment or share, and keep your guy ropes secure.

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

22 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain Fall (a fast season)”

  1. What a perfectly lovely hike (except for the loud music…yikes). Your photos are lovely, pc, and what fantastic vistas. I liked the “childish” parenthetical too. Thanks for taking us along today, it was much enjoyed. 😀


  2. Looks like a beautiful autumn hike with the perfect destination. I enjoyed reading this, as if I was slogging right along with you, and dodged to the side when those music players passed. It’s ridiculous when people bring their city fears to the trail or to the camp site and impinge on the peacefulness felt by others. Ah well, but what a hike over all!


    1. You’re right about the city fears…and I can even understand the trepidation, but with a little education, that can be sorted. The grumpy old man in me suspects that the music isn’t really about fear of bears, and more about selfishness, or thoughtlessness, and loss of respect – for the outdoor environment, and for other hikers. (Yikes, I need to let this go!)
      All in all, an excellent place to be stretching the legs. Might have felt it a bit, by Monday morning…
      Have a great weekend!


  3. Hello PlaidCamper – thank you for this post and the beautiful photos. Special mention for the mushrooms – it is great they get noticed and photographed along with the amazing scenery.


  4. Love the photos, especially the last one reminds me of fall!
    I recently did a “beginner’s hike” in the Austrian Alps, and even though we only covered 300 altitude meters (from 900 to 1200) and I stopped all the time to take 200 pictures, I could feel it in my legs and my lungs the whole time. But I kept smiling as if it was nothing every time our guide (around 60 years old) told us that she usually does hikes around 3000 meters. Piece of cake, right? 😉


    1. Oh yes, a piece of cake! Still, I’d rather be out there, stopping frequently, for the views alone.
      I bet the Austrian Alps are beautiful (more beautiful) this time of year.


  5. Absolutely beautiful once again, I love the mountain lakes. I’m somewhat seasoned hiker, but I still curse my life choices on every steep up part of the trail, calves burning. But seeing something awesome after struggling feels better than seeing it without struggling to get there.


    1. Thanks for the kind words! It was a lovely day, particularly when the sun broke through. Sadly, no sign of the sun this weekend, and even a little sleety snow…fall really is fast, although not done quite yet – we hope!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re beautiful any time of the year, but if you get a chance to visit on a sunny fall day – just about perfect! (Warm, and no bugs!)
      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
      I enjoyed your autumnal Colorado hiking posts, a great place to head outdoors.

      Liked by 1 person

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