Moraine Lake – a night and a day in the Valley of the Ten Peaks

Moraine Lake is one of the Canadian Rockies most iconic landscapes.  I have been there many times and it continues to share new magic with each visit. I was up on top of the rock pile with a couple of good friends for a quiet evening and we returned a few hours later for a cloudy sunrise.  Both times presented views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the lake that I had not seen previously.  I enjoyed them all immensely.

The evening watched as the clouds ran towards the horizon leaving open sky above the peaks that loom above the lake and curl west down the valley.  The soft light near sunset looked beautiful where it touched the peaks and provided a very subtle contrast to the deepening blues and greens that ushered in the night.

When I was crossing the stream where the lake most visibly drains out, the bright colors in the landscape’s palette had been wrung out so I was drawn to the speck of orange upstream.  I liked how this small information shelter’s log frame stood defiantly against the gloom.   At this point, some great clouds had stretched out above the water and they provided an abstract mirror of the river’s folds as revealed in this 13 second exposure.

When we returned around 5am, the clouds had staked out all four corners of the sky.  We watched breaks in the sky expectantly for more than an hour, taking us through sunrise without any light painting the peaks or the clouds curling around them.  We were joined by a hopeful couple from Japan and two Chinese ladies on top of the moraine.  Quiet chattering among the separate groups along with the occasional shutter click marking the time shuffling by.  It was nice, not the dramatic alpen glow or early light that I have seen before but another interesting side of this valley.

Around 6:30 a large break in the clouds developed in the east and 15 minutes later the first shafts of sunlight hit the mountains.  The light was still pretty warm and the drama I had been looking for unfolded for the next 45 minutes before the sun had risen too high for my landscape photography tastes.  I enjoyed watching the color in the lake swirl and change as the house lights of the day came up.  With stray clouds still wrapping peaks occasionally and the sunlight marching down the forest side of the lake, there was a lot to watch and to photograph.

Packing up, I retraced my steps down the path back towards the lodge.  Crossing the river once more, I was drawn in again.  This time the wet rocks were sparkling in the sunshine and I found the light on Yamnee (Mount Bowlen), Tonsa and Sapta (Mount Perren) particularly attractive. Breakfast was calling my friends (and me too – if I had been listening) and it was a good final image to complete this time with the lake, the valley and these wonderful peaks.

14 responses

  1. Reblogged this on bearspawprint.

    November 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

  2. Pingback: Moraine Lake – a hint of red light at dawn « Christopher Martin Photography

  3. One of the most beautiful places in our beautiful Rockies. You captured the magic.

    August 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm

  4. Val

    Faboulous shots, Chris. (Apart from my having misread the title as ‘Morphine Lake’!) Your work on these is just brilliant. 🙂

    August 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  5. Nice pictures , beautiful decor and ambience.

    August 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

  6. Very nice point of view from the rock pile.Like the way the light hits the mountains and when it doesn’t there is beautiful colour in the rock face. Also like the water shots with slower shutter speed. Sigh…was in mountains 3 weeks ago…the mood constantly changes.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm

  7. Gorgeous shots. I have not been to the Canadian Rockies since I was a little boy (but have spent plenty of time in the US Rockies) and I hope to go back to the Canadian Rockies soon. An iconic landscape indeed.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    • I have the same situation in reverse – haven’t been down to the US Rockies for a long time and am anxious to do so. So many amazing places, so little time…

      August 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

  8. Spectacular! Definitely one of our favorite places as well, and certainly a place we need to visit more often. Amazing job capturing the colors and beauty here. Wow!

    August 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

    • Thank you for your very kind words. I hope you are able to get up there more frequently sooner than later.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  9. This place is simply wow!!

    August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

  10. I absolutely love Moraine Lake. It holds a special place in my heart as my husband worked on a project there in the early 80s and because of that, we both were in the same part of the world at the same time. We have brought our children there many times. This vantage point is different than the typical view and is especially wonderful.

    August 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

    • I’m glad the images served as a little reminder. I feel exactly the same about Moraine as you do.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

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