(This information originally sent via email 8/15/16)
Hard to believe that our adventure in the Canadian Rockies is only a month away. After the scorching heat this summer, I will be very happy to get into the cooler Rocky Mountain air.
This email is intended to provide you with a lot of logistical information to make your trip run smoothly. If you still have any questions please let me know.
I certainly hope that you’ve made your reservations. From what I hear everything in and around Lake Louise is sold out.
- The workshop begins Sunday, September 18 at 6:00pm
- The workshop ends Thursday, September 22 at 9:00pm
Our host hotel:
Lake Louise Inn
210 Village Road
Lake Louise, Alberta
Getting Into Canada
The last email I sent out discussed passports and travel requirements into Canada. If you are a US citizen you don’t need any special Visa but you’ll need a passport to enter the country. Make sure yours is valid well beyond the travel dates of the workshop.
We do not provide transportation during this workshop. Most attendees will be renting a car at the airport. Throughout the week, there will be a lot of car pooling. It’s common for some cars to be left behind at the hotel for spouses that don’t want to get up for sunrise. All this is worked out during the workshop so don’t worry about it now.
Where we meet.
Just about everything we do will be in the field so we do not rent a meeting room for thisworkshop. We will be meeting at the hotel at 6:00pm on Sunday. The exact location will be posted in the lobby on Sunday. [Usually we head upstairs to Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta Cafe but do check the sign in the lobby.]
What about an agenda?
There is no daily agenda that is set at this time. The exact schedule is determined, in large part, by the weather and cloud cover. When you arrive, you’ll receive a daily agenda form that we will build on throughout the week.
In general, we will have a sunrise and sunset location set for each day. There will also be somemid-day checkpoint at which we will all meet. You are encouraged to spend some time exploring the area on your own. There are lots of photo opportunities at small pullouts and down small trails.
Don’t worry about the daily schedule. Just know that if you are bringing a spouse, you’ll have plenty of time together while you’re at the workshop. Non-photographer spouses are welcome at any of the locations and most days they’ll be able to sleep in and join us later in the morning at breakfast.
When will you be arriving?
Please take a moment to send me your flight arrival and departure information. Also, let me know if you’re interested in carpooling with anyone who may be on the same or similar flights. (Note, we can only get you talking to each other. It is up to you to make the arrangements and work out the logistics.)
What to bring
On our website is a generic checklist for travel workshops but below are a few other comments specific to this workshop.
Polarizing Filter - A polarizing filter is a must for landscape photography, especially around rivers and waterfalls and on cloudy damp days. We’ll cover the when and why to use it in theworkshop. If you don’t own a PL filter then consider this. Buy PL filter to fit the largest diameter lens in your bag. Then, buy step-down rings so that you can also use it on smaller lenses. Saves a lot of money this way.
Neutral Density Filter - Neutral Density filters come in a variety of flavors. For the workshop,we’re going to be talking about ND filters that block 3, 6 or even 10 stops of light. What we’re trying to do is slow the shutter speed down. This is not a critical filter to have in your bag, but I do think you’ll love what they can deliver. I’d really recommend having at least a 3-stop ND - better yet, a 10-stop ND is awesome.
For both the Polarizing Filter and the ND filter, we recommend the Vu Sion filters. These are awesome filters in a slim frame with great optical coating.
Lens cloth to wipe moisture - I like to use a chamois type cloth. This works great when you’re near a raging river or waterfall and you need to keep the lens elements dry and clean.
Good hiking shoes - We aren’t planning on any real strenuous hikes but a lot of the areas we’ll be exploring are uneven, rocky, wet etc. Good hiking shoes or boots are great to have.
Raincoat - It might rain. For that matter, it might even snow. That won’t stop us.
Layer for warmth - After a blistering hot summer you may have forgotten how to pack for colder weather. Plan on it being chilly. Mornings will be close to freezing and the afternoons flirt with 60° temperatures. Perfect weather for hot cocoa.
September is arguably the best time in the Canadian Rockies for photographers. We’re heading into the dry season yet fog and mist is common in the mornings. Fall colors are blooming around the valleys and early snows often coat the mountain tops and even the valleys below.
- Average low temperature is 31°
- Average high temperature is 58°
Sunrise & Sunset
Don’t worry too much about the times below. We’ll explain why each is important to the photographer at the workshop. What this does show you is that you shouldn’t expect to maintain a normal breakfast or dinner schedule. We’ll be busy at those times.
Before you leave Calgary it’s a good idea to stock up on snacks and supplies. I will be buying an ice chest in which to keep perishables. Consider it a group chest but realize it will tend to fill up quickly if you get bulky items.
- Sunrise & Sunset - Approximate Times
- Twilight - Astronomical: 5:30am
- Twilight - Nautical: 6:15am
- Twilight - Civil: 6:55am
- Sunrise: 7:30am
- Sunset: 7:45pm
- Twilight - Civil: 8:00pm
- Twilight - Nautical: 9:00pm
- Twilight - Astronomical: 9:40pm
Getting to Lake Louise
The local map that you get from the rental car company is all you need to find your way out to Lake Louise. It’s not a particularly complicated route. Depending on the time you arrive, the most difficult part will be the traffic in Calgary.
From the airport to Lake Louise is about 200km (125 miles). Google will tell you it takes a little over two hours but plan on more than that. If you arrive during the daylight hours, you’ll want to take a scenic detour.
After you pass the town of Canmore, you’ll come to the entrance to the National Park. Be prepared to pay your park fees at the toll booth. Fees are grouped as Daily or Annual fees. An Annual Discover Pass is generally the best option for the number of days you’ll be in the park - especially if you spend any extra time. Not only that, beginning this year, the annual passes are actually valid for two years so you can use it when you come back next year. (You know you’ll want to.)
After you enter the park, you will soon pass the town of Banff. As soon as you pass Banff there is an exit for highway 1A, the Bow Valley Parkway. This was the original road from Banff to Lake Louise and is far more picturesque than the sterile looking Trans-Canada Highway. It takes a little longer but you’ll have opportunities to see wildlife and get a better feel for the area. I like to leave the driving on the Trans Canada Highway for when we finish a sunset shoot in Banff and are driving back to Lake Louise in the dark.
Spend Some Extra Time
You’re going all the way to the Canadian Rockies, you might as well spend some extra time there. There is just so much to see and do - I could spend weeks and not see it all. Here are some things to do if you have some extra time.
With this workshop, we’ll be spending almost all our time in the field. There is just so much to see and photograph. But there are still many things that we just won’t have time to do or that are not conducive to a group. So, if you’re able to plan some extra time think about these suggestions.
Lake O’Hara -
Lake O’Hara is truly a spectacular place. Everyone should try to find the time to visit this area of more than two dozen lakes, rugged peaks and alpine meadows located directly across the continental divide from Lake Louise.
There is a hiking trail that circles the lake that is appropriate for just about any level of hiker. There are spots that are quite uneven, slippery and wet. But to truly appreciate the Lake O’Hara area you’ll want to take one of the many hiking trails that take you up to areas like Lake Oesa and Opabin Lake - both spectacular scenes close to 900 feet above Lake O’Hara. With the vertical climb and uneven surface, these trails are a little more challenging.
There is a lodge at Lake O’Hara where you can get a very nice lunch but I’d really recommend that you instead pack something so you can have a picnic along one of the trails.
Plan a full day. Even if you don’t stay all day, you’ll be tired when you get back but I assure you that Lake O’Hara will be very high on your list of favorite places on earth.
In recognition of the fragile ecosystem around Lake O’Hara, Parks Canada restricts access to the area. Although you are welcome to hike into the area, be warned it is 11 kilometers - uphill. Bus access to lake O’Hara is limited and on a reservation basis through Parks Canada. Access to the area is from Yoho National park near the town of Field.
To reserve your space on the shuttle bus, call Parks Canada at 250-343-6433.
Teahouses on Lake Louise
At Lake Louise you’ll find two teahouses; Lake Agnes Teahouse and the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Now, when I say they’re at Lake Louise, it really means that the trailhead to get to the teahouses is on the shore of Lake Louise.
The Lake Agnes Teahouse is the most popular and arguably the most picturesque. From the trailhead on the walkway around Lake Louise, you’ll follow a well-marked forested trail 3.5 km. About halfway you’ll find an opening that overlooks Chateau and lake below - worth a stop and photo. At the end of the trial you’ll have gained 1,300 feet before the trail opens to reveal a spectacular hanging valley with a beautiful teahouse sitting on the edge of Mirror Lake.
By all means, after getting up there, take a load off and relax. The teahouse serves hearty homemade soups and sandwiches on freshly baked bread.
The other teahouse is the Plain of Six Glaciers. Far fewer people hike to this teahouse but for the outdoor lover, it is worth consideration. The trailhead is located at the far end of Lake Louise and climbs on a trail that runs along the side of the glacier. The views back to Lake Louise and the Chateau are stunning.
When you arrive at the teahouse take some time to enjoy the scenery but before you turn around and head back down, continue on the trail. After a short distance, you’ll be sitting on a small plain that overlooks six different glaciers. On a clear day, you’ll swear that you’re hearing thunder rolling through the valley below. But what you’re hearing is the sound of larger chunks of a glacier calving. Unforgettable.
One thing to remember is that the teahouses only accept cash. Also, if a hike with a 1,300-footvertical climb doesn’t interest you there is a less strenuous option - horses are available for hire at Brewster or Timberline Stables in Lake Louise.
For our workshop, we will be visiting sights in Yoho and Banff National Park. There are many wonderful sights in Jasper National Park but there are only so many hours in the day. If you’re able to take some extra time while in Canada, it’s worth a couple of days in Jasper.