Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Kicking Horse River, Moraine Lake, Eiffel Lake


I have wanted to try river rafting for a long time, and I finally got onto the river on our recent vacation. Some of Tim's siblings joined us. We rafted on the Kicking Horse River, which feeds into the Columbia. 

There was a lot of orientation before going out, and we put on wetsuits and jackets, along with helmets, wet boots, and life jackets. Our guide was very professional and a lot of fun, giving us tidbits of information when we were in the calmer parts of the river.

The water is low at this time of year, so we dodged a lot of rocks. Into the water went our paddles at our guide's instructions, and then out again as we "held on" to shoot through the rapids. Tim was in front in the raft, and I was several places behind, on the other side. We all got very wet, but it wasn't uncomfortable at all because of the wetsuits. Without them the glacier fed water would be oh, so very cold. It was a LOT of fun and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

Moraine Lake is one of the "Jewels of the Rockies." It's near Lake Louise and was been featured on the Canadian $20 bill from 1969 to 1979. It lies at the base of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, so named for the surrounding mountains. 

Because it's so iconic, it's very popular with tourists and hikers alike. When we went to the park office for some trail maps, the agent told us that the parking lot here fills up between 5 and 6 AM. Yikes! There is a shuttle, but because we would be hiking, we wanted to have our vehicle there. So we prepared a packable breakfast of fruit, granola, and yogurt, made some tea, and left our camping trailer around 5:15. Temperatures had fallen to freezing overnight and it was cold and very dark when we arrived at the parking lot at 5:30 - to pull into one of the last half-dozen of 150 parking spots. Lucky us! 

It was a clear night/morning, and the stars over the great peaks filled the sky with light and magic. 

We began our hike just as the mountain peaks were lighted by pale clouds reflecting the rising sun, around 6:35. It was still dark in the forest, but Tim's headlamp lighted the way and as the sun rose, light grew.

The ten peaks around Lake Moraine were named by Samuel E. S. Allen using the indigenous words for numbers one through ten. Most have been renamed. 

Frost on the wild strawberries. Brrr. We were glad we brought wool sweaters and gloves. 

How lovely it was to see the mountain peaks kissed by the sun, and the sharp shadows created by other massive mountains.

Moraine Lake lies at about 6100 feet above sea level. In the first hour on the trail we climbed another 1000 feet, going back and forth across the mountain slope in a series of switchbacks. It was hard work. Once we reached 7100 feet, we climbed another 400 feet over a much more gradual incline. 

Here we are, still smiling!

Our goal was Eiffel Lake, seen above. The trail doesn't lead to the lake itself, but carries on for another 4 kilometres to Sentinel Pass. We turned back not long after this point.

On our way up we saw no one else on this particular trail. Just the two of us in this vast landscape, surrounded on all sides by enormous mountains. In the photo above you can see the glacier, mostly covered with gravel at this time of year, and just above Tim is Wenkchemna Peak, the last of the ten peaks surrounding this valley. 

How small and insignificant we felt. How clear and crisp the air was. Tim is seen above, walking on the scree, and I am the little shadow below, a bit further back. 

The verse, "O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth" came to mind as we viewed these scenes.

At a trail junction on the way back, we took a little hike towards Larch Valley, where the larch trees are just beginning to turn golden. Another beautiful glacier view. We didn't go more than a couple of kilometres along this trail as we were both getting tired and there was still that steep descent ahead of us. 

Once we returned to the truck, we had a snack (lunch was eaten early on the trail), took off our hiking boots, wiggled our toes in joy, and rested a bit before exploring the area around the lake a bit. 

It was such a great day. Although I'm not fond of early rising, it was such a wonderful sight to see the mountains being revealed as the sun rose. I think I would do it again! 


  1. Stunning majestic scenery!
    Y'all are brave souls to go rafting.
    Knowing such places exists is joyful.

  2. WOW! Amazing sights. To be in the mountains at sunrise sounds wonderful.

  3. What a spectacular vacation! We’ve seen those mountains and felt the same in their presence. Your ability to hike that trail is impressive. The white water rafting sounds like fun too.

  4. Oh what fun you’ve had, Lorrie! The raft trip must’ve fulfilled one of your bucket list wishes. The photos of the Moraine Lake and the mountains are so incredible. The previous pist made me smile with you and Tim touching the sky! I love how you enjoy life!

  5. River rafting looks like a lot of fun but definitely not for me. You're a brave soul. I never get tired of the sight of our mountains>

  6. What a armchair traveler I am. I would be afraid in that raft. You have show us spectacular photos

  7. So gorgeous! How I want to visit there so much. The rafting looks like tremendous fun!

  8. What an adventure you had and I must admit it was a pleasure to be able to come along with you from my armchair. Stunning views.

  9. You are a brave pair, going river rafting - but you all look so happy and thrilled, it must be amazing. The area is just stunningly beautiful, and how enjoyable it must be to hike in those hills. I have never seen a glacier: it looks heavenly.

  10. That river rafting looks like so much fun! What a beautiful area you visited.

  11. Glorious! What gorgeous country. I'm glad that you did the river rafting and the hiking because, since I never will, this gives me a wee taste of what it is like. You are to be commended for your active lifestyle.

  12. Years ago, my husband went rafting when we were up in Smithers. He said it was both exhilarating and terrtying!

  13. I am so impressed with your adventures and absolutely delighted that you and your husband are making do many wonderful memories together.
    God bless you both.

  14. Woohoo! Glad you got to do the rafting trip. If you could come down the Columbia into the US you would be in our backyard. You were in beautiful country for sure. Happy Fall to you!

  15. Lorrie - what an adventurer you are! Glad you had on wet suits! We have been to Lake Louise, but did not do any hiking in the area since we had my Mom and sister with us. We have wanted to return to that area, and now that the border is open again, we will get it back on our radar!

  16. I do admire you ... what trepid adventurers you and your husband are.
    Fabulous photographs.

    All the best Jan

  17. Hi Lorrie,

    All these pictures are gorgeous, but I LOVE, love the third from the top. I can see why that lake is known as a jewel. Beautiful!! You and Tim had such a marvelous adventure. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm afraid of white water rafting. I used to think I would like to try it, but a very good friend of mine's 23-year old son drowned while canoeing on the New River in North Carolina one fall. His girlfriend was with him, and she miraculously survived. Now I just enjoy viewing the water from terra firma. Your pictures really are lovely, Lorrie; what a beautiful country you live in. Maybe Hal and I can travel there someday!

    Have a great weekend, my friend!


  18. Oooh... I can just imagine the way those views helped you to keep on hiking. The lakes are indeed jewels. My husband and I often thought of going to this country, which I think he had visited as a child. I'm pretty sure I won't get that far nowadays. Your pictures are great!!

  19. What an amazing adventure! I visited Moraine Lake in 2012, but didn't do the hike.


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