Sunday, October 6, 2013

Larches at Chester Lake - October 6th, 2013

Larches at Chester Lake

I escaped the city a bit late (around noon) and wanted to drive down highway 40 to look for fall colours. My original plans for the day were to go to Chester lake to see the Larch trees that grow there. I'd been there a couple years ago with the kids in the summer and I had noticed that there were larch trees along the edge of the lake. Anytime I see larch trees I imagine going to that place in the fall to see them. For those of you that don't know larch trees are an evergreen (or Christmas tree) who's needles turn an intense yellow in the fall and fall off, just like a leafy tree. The needles grow out again in the spring and are soft like a koosh ball. They're usually found at alpine levels - high up on the mountains often at the top of the treeline. Now that it is early October and fall is quite established I hoped they'd be in their glory.

Driving down the road, I was wishy-washy about hiking in primarily because it was later in the day and at this time of year the sun sets at 7:00pm. It`s about a 5km hike to the lake with an elevation gain of just over 400m. Eventually I convinced myself to give it a go because the season is short and I'd feel bad if I missed an opportunity. I drove to the trail head and got there around 2:30pm. It took about 15 minutes to get all myself ready for the hike, packing camera gear, changing clothes and so on. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot and there were a number of groups of people exiting the trail. I was slightly nervous to be heading in with everyone coming out. There are bears that hang out around Chester lake and it was just over four hours until dark. I had packed a flashlight and headlamp just in case I lost the light. The sky was quite overcast and darkness could come well before sunset.

I started up the path walking as quick as I could, I was just short of jogging. It took about an hour to get to the lake, including stopping to take some photos along the way. As I got to the lake there was another photographer there. He was already setup and taking photos. I asked if I could setup beside him and he smiled and said he thought I would want to. The scene was incredible - the clouds to the south were breaking up and the sunlight was rolling across the scene in front of me. Bands of sunlight would roll across the water, hit the trees then continue up the face of the mountain in behind.

Chester Lake

Later, I moved closer to the trees and tried to get some different shots. When I was on the lake oHara photo tour, Brian Merry - the guide, showed us how he uses the sun to create a starburst in the frame. I thought I'd try it out and really liked the effect here with the blue sky complementing the yellow in the larch. The light was amazing considering when I left the parking lot, it was completely overcast and the light was very flat.

Sunburst Larch

One last photo, with the branches of a larch tree framing Mt Galatea and Chester Lake.

Larch at Chester Lake

Leaving Chester lake and walking back to the car in the bright evening sun was magical. There was a feeling of calm and wonderment after the frantic run up to the lake facilitated by the thought that I'd experienced beautiful light and had captured some incredible photographs.

Extra photos from today can be seen here.

Thanks for looking.

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