August 7, 2015

What's in a Lake? Part I

Last weekend, I went for an explore to Skoki, a hiking district just east of Lake Louise.  It's famous for its high alpine lakes, including beautiful Ptarmigan Lake, pictured here.

But high elevation lakes are more than just eye candy, as I soon discovered...

My goal was get to some small lakes I'd never visited before.  They're tucked up against Brachiopod Mountain, which means almost 16 km of hiking before you even get to your reward.

Brachiopod Lake, looking like a big... mud puddle.
The highest lake was called Brachiopod Lake.  It looked tantalizing on the map, right up at treeline, surrounded by high country scenery, but when I got there, it was... almost totally dried up. It sits in a limestone basin, and the water that fills the lake in early summer can percolate right through limestone.  So instead of a lake, I got to see a big mudflat.

Initially, I was very disappointed, but I decided to go for a walk in the mud, just for the heck of it.  And that's when I could see “what's in a lake?”

There were tracks, tons of tracks, left by everything from pikas all the way up to grizzly bears, everything that had visited the lake in the last couple of weeks.  I spent a delightful half hour of treasure hunting, and here's a photo collection of my faves from that day...

Hoary marmot tracks.

Sandpiper tracks.
Grizzly bear track.
Wolf track.