Self-confessed lake-lover Phillip Elliot heads off into the Canadian wilderness to get his fill of aquatic inspiration.
As you leave the outskirts of Vancouver, the wilderness that is Canada envelops you.
My journey eastward is for pure self-indulgence. You see, I have a fascination with lakes. I believe a lake isn’t merely a mass of water; a lake laps you with peace and calmness, and gently splashes you with wonderment and possibilities. So I am heading to the ‘promised land’ for lake-lovers like myself, the Okanagan Valley.
Like a warm oasis amid the snow and ice of British Columbia, the weather here is temperate all year round. I have stopped in Kelowna as a stepping stone to the Canadian Rockies.
The Hotel Eldorado is perched right on the Okanagan Lake, a perfect spot for water watching. As I sit on the deck and soak up the sunshine I relish in some local seafood and watch the thunderstorms gathering in the distance.
The warm weather and occasional rainfall mean this region is overflowing with fruit crops and a burgeoning wine industry.
Continuing east, the terrain becomes rugged and mountainous. Established in 1886, the Yoho National Park is a World Heritage site located on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
As you approach the causeway that transports you to a resort it is hard to decide if this lake is greener than the emerald that shares its name.
If an artist sat down where I stand they would surely have to incorporate the vibrant red canoes in the foreground, as they frame this picture perfectly; you can hire them and weave your way around this magnificent expanse.
At Emerald Lake Lodge, the guest rooms have lake or mountain views, while the cabins dotted along the shore are serene and restful.
Jasper is a nice enough Rocky Mountain town, but for me it is merely a coffee stop (at the famous Bear’s Paw Bakery) as I head out of town to Pyramid Lake.
The lake is unique in that it encapsulates its own island, with easy access via a foot bridge. Pyramid Lake Resort is the only accommodation lakeside, and I take a room that gives me a sizeable balcony from which to appreciate this striking view.
You can rent everything you need to explore the lake’s beauty – bikes, canoes, windsurfers, fishing equipment and boats – but I’m happy to just sit.
Maligne Lake, the largest lake in Jasper National Park, is but a short drive from Pyramid Lake.
Maligne Lake comes with its own photo prop in the shape of a boathouse built by Donald ‘Curly’ Phillips in 1928.
The red-roofed structure contrasting against the crystal blue waters makes this spot one of the most photographed in all of Canada.
If that sort of visual feast isn’t enough, you can cruise the water to Spirit Island, with its bluest of blue water, three glaciers and troop of snow-capped mountains.
I have heard that black bears reside in the area and it doesn’t take too long to find them. A handful of people gather to watch at a safe distance. Black bears are herbivores, but I can’t help thinking that you wouldn’t want to get one angry.
It’s then that I remember the golden rule of bear watching: make sure you can run faster than at least one other person in the group.
I position myself towards the rear and watch a truly remarkable animal exploring his turf.
There are some places in the world that are just spellbindingly beautiful, and then there’s Lake Louise.
The Fairmont Lake Louise is a marvellous hotel at any time of the year, but in late spring it holds all the promise of a wonderful summer to come.
As I sip a mocha latte on the balcony, I look out in awe over the semi-frozen lake, where the melting ice makes patterns on the surface.
The vista from my hotel window is relentlessly spectacular: snow-capped mountains that melt into the clear white clouds above, and all reflected in the water below. It is a view so idyllic that no desription, no matter how effusive, could do it justice.
The resort’s sunroom is so comfortable; I close my eyes and let snow-kissed sunlight warm me.
The windows are wide and expansive, bringing the view into the lounge. As the sun glistens on the ice, I pity those time-poor tourists who view lakes as just fodder for holiday snapshots.
Canada’s lakes need to be slowly sipped so that they truly soak into your soul.
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Phillip Elliot has won a Sleek Photo Hatchback AW Series daypack valued at $109.
It’s a fun, practical and flexible solution for carrying a full camera kit, plus plenty of personal gear and digital devices.