A tale of two forests…

…in one place! A short piece about the changing environment, and uncovering a forest preference.

DSCN5979
Lakes and forests – marvellous!

We were out at Yoho recently, enjoying a long weekend away from the city. The weather was pretty changeable over these few days, ranging from cold and damp to very cold and heavy rain. The ceaseless drumming of rain upon the cabin roof was initially calming, but we weren’t sorry when it stopped! Cabin fever…

It stopped raining, and the skies started to clear...
It stopped raining, and the skies started to clear…

The grey weather lifted a little, and we made for Emerald Lake, enjoying the sporadic beams of warm sun as the clouds broke up.

Easy walking!
Easy walking!

The stroll (hike is too strong a word for this one) around Emerald Lake isn’t too far, perhaps just shy of 6 km. The fun is in how the view changes when the trail zips in and out of the trees lining the lakeshore, and enjoying how the sunlight brightens the surface, illuminating the water. Mountains appear to shift their bulk as your perspective changes, and cloud shadows race over the slopes.

Familiar territory
Familiar territory

The more exposed side of the lake is familiar alpine territory, the evergreens and undergrowth not too crowded, with open views up the sides and across the water. Following the shore to the end of the lake, you cross an open area of alluvial plain, the sediment of thousands of years being deposited slowly into the water, ensuring it will one day disappear, one little flood at a time. Now that is a long term, yet inevitable event.

The sediment is growing, and the lake slowly shrinking
The sediment is growing, and the lake slowly shrinking

I’m not overly fond of the alluvial plain; it seems a dismal place compared to the majesty of the mountains around. But it is this contrast that lends the vistas their grandeur…so I should be happy really! It is a unique, important, and changing environment. The changes can barely be seen in our brief lifetime, but they are speedy by mountain measures.

Mossy greenery
Mossy greenery

The return portion of the hike is my favourite. We stepped from the plain and back into forest. And such a forest! A complete contrast to the other shore, this forest feels like a coastal rainforest. We were just remarking on the change and how it felt, when we arrived at an interpretive sign explaining the local differences. (If I need a teaching break, maybe I’ll write interpretive signs; PlaidCamper interpretations of the clearly evident…) It’s ten hours or so to the Pacific, yet because of the relative lack of sunshine, and higher rainfall this side of the mountain, the environment really does have the feel of coastal rainforest about it.

A rainforest feel
A rainforest feel

Cooler, darker and much, much wetter overall. The forest floor is carpeted with beautiful moss, and the mushrooms were everywhere.

Another boot test (passed!)
Another boot test (passed!)

The heavy rain left the trail muddy and puddle strewn, adding to that coastal feeling. It only lasts a couple of kilometres, but it is so wonderful, and such a pleasant surprise – especially as landlocked, semi-arid Alberta is just down the road. I think I prefer this side of the lake…not that it is necessary to choose! It’s probably the contrast, and my delight at finding it in such close proximity.

Love this lake
Love this lake

A changing environment to be found in a few short kilometres – this is why we love Emerald Lake. So much to enjoy and appreciate, particularly after a cabin feverish couple of days!

Coastal? Not really!
Coastal? Not really!

Thanks for reading. As ever, please feel free to comment or share a story, and keep your guy ropes secure.

Published by

plaidcamper

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...

31 thoughts on “A tale of two forests…”

    1. Delighted that you enjoyed this one! It is a lovely part of the Rockies, and I’m very happy to share it, if only through photographs. Thanks for reading and commenting, always appreciated. Enjoy your weekend!

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  1. Wow, I can see why you like this area so much, pc. It’s truly lovely. I enjoyed seeing the ever-changing aspects too, that you pointed out. Your photos, as always, are really a pleasure. Looks like there might be cedar in that forest? Great hike/stroll and post. 😀

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    1. It is a beautiful place to hike! I’m no naturalist, so I went and checked for a precise answer (such a teacher!) and western red cedar grows around Emerald Lake! I love the coastal feel out there, so far from the coast…
      Thanks for your kind words, Jet, and have a wonderful weekend!

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  2. Enjoyable-I went a little ways around Emerald Lake a few years ago and sure would like to go again, maybe go all the way around. Like the moss and fungi on the stump as well as the fourth one through the trees showing the emerald green waters.

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    1. Enjoyable is a good word for strolling around Emerald Lake! I hope you get to revisit one day – it is lovely in almost every season. In deep midwinter, on a still day just after snowfall, the quiet there is astonishing.
      Have a wonderful weekend!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this PlaidCamper, I’m always interested to hear about the terrain out west. I’ll be heading out to Alberta for the first time in January, pretty excited.

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    1. Alberta in winter – excellent time to visit, generally blue skies and snow in the mountains (although the talk is of a warmish first half to winter) – still, you’ll have a blast, I’m sure!
      Hope you’ve had a good weekend!

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  4. Emerald Lake is my favourite spot in the Rockies – so much that we got married there last summer:) I have actually not taken the trail around the lake in summer, but we have done it several times in winter on cross country skis and snow shoes. Lovely to see your pictures from the other side of the lake in a summer perspective:)

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  5. It’s amazing how fast the landscape can change. I’ve noticed this same phenomenon driving through Idaho, crossing a mountain range would mean a total difference in the environment. The other side rainy, filled with waterfall, the other one dry and arid.

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  6. Nice article, once again! Yeah, it’s amazing to discover the micro climates in an area. Nature has so many treasures! Have a nice weekend!

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