Jake and Lyndsay’s Canadian SUP tour comes to an end on an incredible day 6:
Day 6: Moraine Lake, AB
For our final paddle of the trip we woke up early (6 am) to head out to Moraine Lake. Since this lake is the hardest to access (windy road, small parking lot, VERY popular) we wanted to get there by 7 am to make sure we beat the holiday crowd (the hotel clerk mentioned shuttles would be running to the lake starting around 9am). Before this trip it seemed like every picture that popped up on my Instagram feed was of Moraine Lake. Now I know why. We pulled up to the parking lot down the 12 km access road right around 7am and were one of about 15 cars there. It was light out but the sun was still behind the mountains so it was a very cool and shady 47 °F/8 °C. Moraine Lake sits snugly in what is known as The Valley of the Ten Peaks; a well-known area of Alberta that consists of ten steep mountain peaks and glaciers that are all over 10,000 feet.
We grabbed our gear and headed to the shore. The lake was very quiet and for the first time on this trip we didn’t entertain questions about our paddleboards as we pumped them up (by now we had a scripted response). The water was glass and with the exception of Boom Lake it was much clearer than the other glacier lakes we paddled. The color of the water was also very different; instead of an emerald green color, it was a deep, beautiful, royal blue. The peaks surrounding the lake were much closer together and much steeper and the bowl the lake sat in was also much deeper and tighter, almost making you feel slightly claustrophobic.
When we launched our boards we were the only ones on the lake. It was such an incredible feeling to hear nothing but your paddle cutting through the water on such a glassy and beautiful lake. As we paddled the sun starting peeking over the mountains, highlighting the famous peaks at the far end of the lake. This produced one of the most amazing reflections I have ever seen and Jake and I both sat on our boards and watched it for a bit.
We paddled over to the far shore of the lake to find an amazing waterfall feeding the lake. It was around this point we realized two things: 1) the sun was not going to come out over the mountain anytime soon and 2) we had not dressed appropriately. Our feet were completely frozen to the point where we had to keep sitting on our boards to try and warm them up.
After taking our time to explore the lake for about an hour and a half, we started hearing and seeing people so we headed back to the shore we launched from. We wanted to leave the lake before it became so busy that it ruined our quiet experience. We docked on the far side away from the crowd (at this point I was completely frozen and the sun still had not come out), rolled up our boards and headed to the trail.
When we returned to the car it was almost 10 am and the parking lot and lake were swarming with people. As we headed back down the road we also noticed that the road was now closed to incoming traffic and only shuttles were allowed in and out of the lake. We were pretty pumped that we got there early and had the experience that we did. Before heading back to the hotel for a soak in the hot tub, we drove down a beautiful scenic by way, Bow Valley Parkway, and saw some beautiful scenery, including an old wildfire area that was now populated with wildflowers. We sat and ate lunch along a riverbank (no one else around) and headed back to the hotel to relax.
On our way out of the Rockies we saw more elk, both white and black tail deer, antelope, a mean-ass looking badger, and a couple big horn sheep. I would say we were pretty lucky from an animal viewing perspective.
This was not my first trip to the Canadian Rockies; being born and raised in Canada, I have visited this area a handful of times. This time, however, was far more remarkable than the others. Honestly, I attribute that to paddle boarding. Our boards enabled us to see over a dozen hidden waterfalls, look deep into crystal blue waters, get alongside wildlife, experience solitude, and see the very best views of the glaciers – all things non-paddling tourists can never see. Over the course of six days we inflated/deflated our boards seven times, paddled six lakes and one river, and drove over 2800 miles. Jake and I whole-heartedly believe that perspective is everything, and when you are visiting the Canadian Rocky Mountains the best perspective is from your SUP.
Click a link below to read the 6-part series to their story: