The Valley of the Ten Peaks

Day 10 of the Canadian Rockies trip was the last full day on our adventure out west. At this point, we were admittedly a bit “mountained out”; besides being physically exhausted from all the hiking and camping, we were also experiencing a case of beautiful scenery overload. Yes, being spoiled by gorgeous views can actually be tiring! So when our plan called for a final hike at one of the most famous locations in the country, we were initially reluctant and dragged our feet a little.

Click here for an outline of our Rocky Mountain adventure

Just a few minutes drive south of the Lake Louise town site, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks is one of Canada’s most photographed sites. The scene even featured on the back side of the $20 bank note some time ago, and for this reason is known as the Twenty Dollar View. Seeing it in person was even more spectacular than I could imagine – the distinctive bright blue shade of the lake was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in the Rockies (different from the more common turquoise green), and the backdrop of the ten rugged peaks was simply stunning. Despite the slight haze in the air, it was truly magnificent.

Moraine Lake

Mount Temple towering over Lake Moraine Road on the way to the valley.

20_dollar_moraine_lake

Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks pictured on the back of a Canadian twenty dollar bill.

Moraine Lake

The real Twenty Dollar View. More like a million bucks!

Moraine Lake

For an exorbitant price, you can rent a canoe and paddle the lake.

Energized by the beauty of it all, we left the crowds behind us and took to the trails again. Starting on the northern shore of Moraine Lake, the hike to Eiffel Lake is 7 kilometers long with a moderate 600m elevation climb, and the trail promising unbeatable views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks along the way. While the first few kilometers seemed like an endless string of switchbacks in the thick woods, the path soon leveled off above the tree line and we could see the lake below and the impressive peaks on the opposite side of the valley.

Moraine Lake

On the trail. After switchbacks and clearing the woods, you’re well above the lake.

Moraine Lake

A room with a view. Now that’s a lucky tenant.

Moraine Lake

Staying on the trail and making our way through the meadow.

Moraine Lake

Wildflowers line the trail with a panoramic view of the ten peaks.

Moraine Lake

There were a few other hikers on the trail this day, but it wasn’t crowded at all.

The trail leads through a mountainside meadow filled with wildflowers before passing the talus slopes of Eiffel Peak. We scramble across the loose rocks and the occasional snow patch before Eiffel Lake comes into view. Continuing on to the far side of the lake will reward you with a great view of the Ten Peaks as you look back towards the valley. Go even further and you can ascend to Wenkchemna Pass which borders onto British Columbia.

Moraine Lake

Past the meadow, crossing the talus slopes of Mount Eiffel.

Moraine Lake

Looking up at the scree and summit of Mount Eiffel.

Moraine Lake

Nearing the end of the trail, we make our way over snow patches.

Moraine Lake

Lake Eiffel in view, with Wenkchemna Pass just beyond, between Neptuak and Wenkchemna mountains.

Moraine Lake

At the far side of the lake, a great view of Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Moraine Lake

Mount Tuzo, Deltaform Mountain, and Neptuak Mountain.

On the return leg we retraced our hike-in route and arrived back at the Moraine Lake visitor centre just as the sun was beginning to set. Overall we had been trekking for about 6 hours, including a few snack breaks along the way.

Moraine Lake

After a snack stop, we make our way back along the slopes and marvel over breathtaking views.

Moraine Lake

The brilliant blue water of Moraine Lake.

Moraine Lake

Tonsa Peak and Mount Perren.

Moraine Lake

After 6 hours, back at the trailhead, where the crowds have now dissipated.

Moraine Lake

The Rockpile moraine where you can experience the Twenty Dollar View. The Tower of Babel peak just behind.

Rewarding ourselves with some ice cream, we quietly enjoyed our last evening in the Rockies while contemplating our achievements over the past week and a half. The next day we would be leaving Alberta back to impossibly flat and much less dramatic Ontario. Such a shame!

Back country, front country, hiking and driving – incredibly, everything had gone smoothly and in accordance with our original planning. On our 10-day adventure, we ascended almost 5000m over a total hiking distance of 110 kilometers while treated to some truly spectacular scenery. It was indeed a Great Canadian Rockies Adventure, and I can’t wait to start the next one.

———————————————————————-

3 responses to “The Valley of the Ten Peaks

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Let me know.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s