As an Aussie, having the opportunity to walk on a frozen lake is quite a rare experience. Well, that was about to change for me as I am now living in Banff, surrounded by mountains, snow and true Canadian winter weather, resulting in a majority of the lakes freezing over. Discover Banff Tours offers an Evening Icewalk and Campfire that takes you out to Lake Minnewanka equipped with a headlamp and ice cleats and you are set, off for a walk on the lake. I learned that the lakes in the area that don’t completely freeze are fed by hot or warm spring water.
While strapping my ice cleats on, I have to admit that I was slightly nervous having never done this before and not knowing what to expect. Was it going to crack underneath me? Was I going to fall through the ice? As we made our way to the edge of the lake, I slightly applied pressure to the ice to check its durability. I was quite surprised with how thick the ice actually was although the nerves were still there. We were relying on our sense of touch considering a majority of our sight had been taken by the darkness of night. Making our way across the lake holding onto each other for moral support, we slowly gained more confidence in each stride that we took and soon all of my beach-girl fears about walking on ice were gone.
As we reached the middle of the lake, our guide asked us to stop, turn off our headlamps and enjoy the serenity of the starlit sky, with the moon beaming above the Canadian Rockies making it an even more magical experience. Often with the complete silence we could hear the ice actually moving and cracking underneath us. Later we tried howling for wolves, none answered that night, but our guide told us that on some nights if wolves are in the area they will bay back to the group.
The evening was completed with a campfire, toasting marshmallows and some stories of the Rockies past and pioneers. So check that one off the list – a moonlight walk on a frozen lake. Magical!