Monday, July 03, 2006

Its a stunningly beautiful, well kept secret!!

Is this place for real or was it a faction of our imagination? How can there be a place so pure and pristine, untouched, unscathed, wild and glorious? How can the waters be this placid, yet multifaceted...this vivid, and so full of character, this inviting and at the same time so mesmerizing? Is this a dream, or does such a utopia really exist? How could nature surrounding this haven, be so rugged, alpine yet legendary?     
If you can believe it, all the above was answered in superlatives, when we stepped foot onto a well kept secret amidst the Canadian Rockies. True in every sense of the word to it being called the Jewel of the Mountains - Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The tree trunks are actually underwater, thats how crystal clear the waters are...
Framed by spectacular snowcapped peaks, lush alpine meadows and an evergreen tree line, the brilliant turquoise waters of the lake are a sight to see. I can guarantee that you couldn't have seen this shade of blue, or wait a minute it is green, or is it any of the million shades in between?

Surrounding the lake from its shoreline all the way to the top and around it are a web of trails offering sights only fit for the gods. As you climb higher on the switchbacks, the view only gets better, till you reach the edge of the cliff, from where - this sunken gem literally takes your breath away! We felt like we were the luckiest people have experienced this wondrous place on earth.

Any amount of photographs couldn't capture and do justice to what has got to be the pinnacle of the Canadian National Parks. It is no wonder then, that access to this lake is very restricted in order to protect and preserve it. There are only a limited number of day-hikers allowed on any given day, and  reservations both for overnight stays at the lodge and for day-hikes get sold out months in advance.

Refreshing waterfalls en route the Lake Oesa trail
It’s possible to walk to Lake O’Hara (11km/6.8 miles from the nearest public road), but most visitors take the shuttle bus along a road closed to the public. Buses for day visitors depart between mid-June and early October at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., returning at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. To book a seat, call the dedicated reservations line (250.343.6433) many months in advance as seats are limited. The reservation fee is $12 per booking, and the bus fare is $15 per person round-trip. Its not easy making the reservations, it takes patience and a strong index finger to hit re-dial a hundred times. Is it worth it - you ask, ABSOLUTELY, and you do not want to miss out on this experience of a lifetime.
Alpine meadows surrounding Lake O'Hara

TIP:  Six seats per day are set aside for those who haven’t made advance reservations. They are allotted via the reservation number on a first-come, first-served basis. No-shows are filled on a standby basis by folks waiting around at the parking lot on the day of departure (generally, arrive around 7 a.m., head to the covered shelter, and you’ll be the first in line). You have the best chance of snagging a seat on the first morning 8:30 a.m. bus. 

If you are wondering, you are correct, we were among the 6 lucky people who got into the bus last minute, after all the trials and tribulations of not being able to get through the phone lines. Hands-down this is the best TIP that I could ever suggest to you!

No comments: