You can also read this story on the Calgary Herald.
The crunch of the snow beneath my feet must have sounded piercingly loud to the silent mountain peaks that towered in the darkness around me. No one in sight, I almost felt like an intruder in this place, even though I was walking across the frozen lake as quietly as I could. I stopped, and without a hint of wind in the air, the silence was almost deafening.
The only signs of civilization were the warm glowing lights of Emerald Lake Lodge and its guest cabins in the distance, perched beneath the familiar twinkle of Orion’s belt. Happily tucked near fireplaces and hot toddies, not many would venture out onto the frozen expanse of the lake after dark, and for that I was thankful.
Life in the city means we’re constantly adjusting to the din of background noise – cars whizzing by, the buzz of construction, the busyness of a parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. Even overhead, our view of night skies is often obstructed by city lights. We rub our eyes, trying to see the stars, trying to stand still in ever-changing street scenes.
But here, 10km but worlds away from Highway 1 just west of Field, BC, the comforts of home, and the tranquility of isolation meet at Emerald Lake Lodge. This is particularly true in early spring, while ice and snow still covers most of the landscape, before the lake reveals its iconic turquoise waters and before the waves of visitors make their way to Yoho National Park.
Off the grid and completely self reliant for all utilities, Emerald Lake Lodge combines cozy and comfortable accommodation with quick access to skiing and hiking.
A 200 foot-long bridge separates the lodge from the rest of the world, where a small bus shuttles guests to and from their vehicles, parked in a private lot further away. Approaching the Lodge by foot or shuttle gives a warm sense of arrival. You can almost feel yourself shedding away life’s obligations as you cross the narrow bridge and approach the cabins that stand near footpaths that wind along the shore, mounds of snow to your left and right every step of the way.
A welcoming stainless steel hot tub with views of the lake invites weary muscles and cold-nipped toes, while the Burgess dining room serves creative and comforting local Rocky Mountain cuisine.
With no TVs in the room, the scenery outside becomes a welcome source of entertainment. Earlier that day, the afternoon hues stopped me in my tracks on a walk to the main lodge – the setting sun created alpenglow on the mountain peaks, changing them from silver to yellow to orange to pink, and eventually to a muted, end of day grey. Soon, the moon and stars came out; the start of a new show to watch on repeat.
Now, back in the darkness, I set up my tripod, eager to try and capture the mood of this place, so that I can always return to it in my mind, long after I’ve gone back to the city and returned to the noise. The click of the camera shutter opens, and as cliche, as it sounds, time stands still for a moment.
But the opposite is true, time flies at Emerald Lake Lodge. I couldn’t possibly get enough time to rest, eat, sip, soak, ski, sit and explore. And when guide Tom Wilson first laid eyes upon this place more than 100 years ago, I have a funny feeling he felt the same way.
If you go:
Emerald Lake Lodge is located just west of Field, BC. Take the Emerald Lake / Natural Bridge exit and follow the road. For more information visit https://www.crmr.com/emerald/.