Moraine Lake to Lake Louise
An excellent larch traverse between the lakes.

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After stashing a car at Lake Louise, we started out at the trailhead at Moraine Lake.
For the first part of the trail, we joined the hordes of people along good, well packed trail up to larch valley.
Unfortunately, it always seems that by the time the larches are in full colour, they're covered in snow - although this year the day was still nice.
The first part of our ascent, up the switchbacks to the larch-eiffel junction was interesting - the trees very heavily laden with snow, and the sun had come out in full force.
Quite regularly, one of these snowed branches would get to warm, and give out, dropping its load on whatever unsuspecting hiker lay below.
A couple of us got bombed, and a few times you could hear the creak above, and run before it hit.
Made for a little extra excitement on what is usually a boring part of the trail. :)

Moraine Lake in the morning.

Looking down to Moraine Lake.

Gorana walks the dangerous road under trees.

Axel, Marshall, and Laurier ascent switchbacks

Jenn and Gorana enter Larch Valley.

Larch Valley, just below regroup point.

Laurier hiking up towards Pinnacle Mountain.

Marshall and Axel stop for photos.

Eiffel Peak and Pinnacle Mountain, west of Sentinel Pass

Rachel, high on altitude at only 2300m.

Looking up to Sentinel Pass.

Beyond Larch Valley, we exchanged wide trail for a thin bootpacked line up the switchbacks.
The sun burned morning mist off the Valley of the Ten Peaks as we ascended, giving a very cool look to all of it.

Snow blowing across the Minnestimma Lakes.

Laurier looks up towards Sentinel Pass.

Valley of the Ten Peaks from the upper Minnestimma Lake.

Pano shot back down into the valley.

We stopped to take some photos at the top of the pass, then headed down the other side.
The descent into Paradise Valley was the sketchiest part of the day. This side of the pass is loose rock, and the snow covering made it worse.
This was also the only part of the trip on which we could not walk in well-trod paths, and gaiters came very much in handy.

Kelty's group descends above ours.

The group switchbacks down from Sentinel Pass.

The Grand Sentinel, for which the pass is named.

Regrouping below the steep part.

The group comes down the trail.

Sentinel Pass behind and above.

The wind blows through Paradise Valley, blowing snow off the mountains.

North of Sentinel Pass, we now find ourselves in Paradise Valley - and it is beautiful, with tons of larch, and good trail.
We planned to take the north route through the valley, and headed that way only to find that it had been closed.
The new trail revision has made only one trail through Paradise Valley, so we followed it down to Lake Annette.

Lunchbreak below the pass.

Larch and Pinnacle Mountain.

Looking across to Mount Aberdeen.

Trail through the larch.

Marshall and Laurier hike past a gully.

Trail opens up towards Little Temple.

Gorana and Marshall along the trail.

Piglet climbs a tree below Mount Temple.

Piglet's larch tree.

Mount Temple from the northwest.

Group photo at Lake Annette.

Instead of following the Paradise Valley trail back out to the road as most people do, we turned north after the lake, towards the saddleback.
To complete our traverse, we climbed through the col between Fairview Mountain and Saddle Peak, then descended the Saddleback trail to Lake Louise.
The sun set while we were just below the pass, and as we descended the saddleback trail, it got steadily darker.
We had still some daylight for most of the way, but turned on our headlamps as it got fully dark at the bottom to finish the half-kilometre back to the parking lot.

Mount Temple from across the valley.

Marshall finds a comfy chair in Sheol Valley.

Laurier starts down the Saddleback trail.

Last look to Mount Temple from the pass.

The last part of the trail was too dark for photos.
All in all, this was an awesome hike, and a great way to see the larch for this year.
We moved rather slowly, but at exactly 20km if you don't wander around in Paradise Valley (as we did), it's a full (counting the driving and car shuttle) but not excessively long day.

Photos taken by Rachel.

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