The fall at O’Hara has a distinct feel and pattern. Each year in late August or the first week of September winter-like weather arrives with a flurry; both in snow and speed. For three or four days it feels like there will be no more summer and that we should start preparing for winter; chopping wood, pulling in the hanging baskets… And then we wake up one morning to temperatures well below freezing and BRILLIANT BLUE SKIES. This year was no exception.

During this magical time of year people walk about in a trance as they wander through the golden larches set in a Zen like garden on Opabin or they stumble along as their eyes are cast to the slopes of Yukness or Odaray. It really is a special time up here at Lake O’Hara. What’s the big deal about these fall colours! Head east and they get a kaleidoscope of colours while we have a monochromatic yellow glow here in the Rockies.

To the neophyte it is hard to explain however once you experience it you know; sort of like that secret handshake that carries more meaning than a casual hello. What is it that creates that magic ? ; the glow from the trees provides a light on the paths as if they were lit by a “yellow highlighter lamp”, the quietness of the surroundings, the contrast against the blue skies and the recently snow clad peaks,  the carpet of yellow needles at your feet as if someone has spread them their for you to tread gently across or it may be the crisp mountain air that is signalling the end of our summer. Maybe it is the combination of all these things and our last celebration before the winter snows arrive. Kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend makes one nostalgic and longing for the days of old!!!

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Winter is around the corner

As with anything it also signals a beginning and that is the anticipation of winter and the snow blanketing the area creating a palate to paint the mountains with ski tracks. It also starts those conversations about the winter snowfall predictions. The Almanac says dumps of snow, its an El Nino year so it will be POW big time. The predictions go on and on. Regardless we know that when we open for our winter season in late January there will be more than an ample amount of snow for us to ski tour through.

It is the optimism at the start of anything new which get sone charged and we are no different here at the lodge. We have been chopping wood  in preparation, tuning up our snowcat for trail grooming and picking up some more skis for our Touring loaner packages. Memories of last seasons Backcountry touring here in the heart of Yoho National Park gets us all stoked about the upcoming season. Our winter staff are all excited as well, many joining us for their first winter season. For some they will be jumping onto touring skis for their first time and learning the intricacies of travelling safely in the mountains during the winter. The fall season is also a time when we start checking our gear and what potential new additions one might need to put in their backcountry quiver.

Stay tuned for the next instalment as we talk about “Getting Ready for the Ski Season”.