Gem in the Jewel Box

Despite living less than two and a half hours from the Lake O’Hara region of Yoho National Park, BC for most of my adult life, the hassle of having to book a reservation three months ahead prevented me from exploring this gem in the jewel box that is the Rocky Mountains.  Finally, while dreaming up things to do after my summer contract ended, I discovered that three nights were available at the Lake O’Hara campground near the end of September.

The forecast looked as promising as one could expect for the end of September in the Rockies, but it snowed several inches the first night and a little less each subsequent night.  Over the three days, the sun exposure could be totaled in minutes; nevertheless, there was no shortage of stunning scenery at which to aim my camera.

My favourite spot over the three days I explored the area was Hungabee Lake, just one of the jewels of the Opabin Plateau above Lake O’Hara.  The name did nothing to inspire me but I’ve since learned that the nearby Mount Hungabee was named after the Stoney Indian word for “chieftain”, the mountain being higher than its neighbours; presumably, the lake takes its name from the mountain.  I was also expecting that the uppermost lake in the hanging valley (the one after which the Plateau is named) would be the most enchanting.  Yes, life is a journey, not a destination.

Something about the snow revealing every detail in the mountains, the lake mirroring the adjacent landscape, the yellowing larches adding a splash of colour, and the reverent calmness of the water left me awed.  It felt like a sacred space, and I did my best to put my sense of wonder into photographic imagery.


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