Walking on Abraham Lake in Alberta

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Alberta, Canada, North America, Travel Blog and Destinations | 2 comments

Walking on Abraham Lake in Alberta

In the Pacific Northwest, mountains appear to have just burst from the earth in a single violent motion inland, then they softly sink on their way back west. I live on the coast, in Vancouver, where the call of tree-covered towers cries softly from the north – and it only takes a moment to be inspired to run toward it. I first saw some photos of Abraham lake from my apartment with my curtains drawn, on a late-night Google Maps/Wikepedia binge. They sat me bolt upright, and it wasn’t long until I was on the phone with my dad (who lives in Alberta and is always up for an outdoor adventure) planning a trip.

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Abraham Lake is a man-made lake on the Saskatchewan River, created in 1972. In the winter the lake forms a thick shield of ice, and as the ice gets thicker, a curious feature of the lake appears. Columns of bubbles cluster below the surface. The bubbles are of methane gas released from a swath of decomposing trees and plants drowned forty years ago, along with some ancient methane from far below the earth’s surface. As the ice thickens, the bubbles are stopped further and further from the surface, creating colomns of irregular white disks. At the right angle, some of the bubbles prism as the sunlight’s colours are split into subtle flecks of pink and green amid the glacial blue.

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With only a few photos found online guiding my trip, my dad and I set off to explore. My dad, in true boyscout fashion, was armed with a global GPS, rope in case we needed to be tied together (he was concerned about weak spots in the ice,) extra warm clothing items, snowshoes (he couldn’t find crampons for the ice) and even took me out to get warm gloves and wind-proof pants beforehand. I am the girl who hiked the Inca Trail in a skirt, and who bought “hiking boots” while strongly considering how they would┬á go with my city clothes – I am all about light packing, budget, and versatility. My dad’s game is preparedness and safety, and I was grateful. Although we could have waded through the snow, slid down the ice on our butts and toddled around the frozen lake in cold boots, my dad’s provisions admittedly made for a much more comfortable trip. The snowshoes kept us strolling casually over all surfaces, and my extra warm items were mighty against the winter wind. We didn’t need the rope or the GPS (the lake is actually right along the road) but the GPS was turned on, and it was still fun for my stepmum to track us remotely from their home in Calgary. And honestly, just having rope makes me feel like an adventurer.

My dad over there.

The bubble shapes are fairly easy to find, since in the lake’s location there is an unusually low level of precipitation, so less snow to cover the surface. On the day we were there, any snow that would have been there was being blasted away by high winds anyways. It wasn’t long before we found exactly what we were looking for, and ended up spending several hours as the lone two people wandering around on a frozen lake and pointing out bubble clusters to each other as cars roared by in the distance.

Abraham Lake is a little over an hour’s drive away from the town of Rocky Mountain House, which is just adorable and mostly full of truckers. Spend the night and, if you are a better person than I, catch the sunrise -I hear it’s amazing.

2 Comments

  1. This is such a cool lake. Thanks for sharing.

    danyellekelly.com

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Dany! So cool that you found this blog, it’s still secret from almost everyone I know. ­čÖé

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