Friday, September 26, 2014

Painters at Lake O'Hara 2014

Day one, my plein air oil at Sargent's Point

Timed to catch the September changing of the larches, for several years now a group of painters have booked themselves into the Alpine Club of Canada's, Elizabeth Parker Hut at the staggeringly beautiful Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, B.C, The last time I joined the gang was in 2007. I was overdue. This year there were ten of us, many there to seriously plein air paint. I was there for so much more.

Daily access to Lake O'Hara is limited by two school bus loads in at 8:30AM and two more at 10:30AM. Of course you may opt to walk the eleven kilometers up the road. Half of our group were shuttled in on the early bus. I was with the others on the later bus arriving at the lake at eleven o'clock on September 16th. I walked my gear up to the meadow where the hut is, moved in and returned to the lake to paint this ...

Sargent's Point 2014, plein air oil 8" x 10"   SOLD

That first afternoon, there were four others painting at the famous and revered Sargent's Point. In sight, but not in my way, were ...

Sharon and George

Lake O'Hara is surrounded by an abundance of spectacular alpine lakes and pools, each with their own stunning, distinctive colour. None are much farther than a one hour walk away, all up of course. In stronger times, I was able to hike to so much more than I did on this trip. My new hip turned eight months old while I was there ... I was simply glad that it took me where and as far as it did!

Bob, and in the distance, Pat and Rhonda coming up the West Opabin Lake Trail

A selfie on Opabin Plateau

Magnificent Opabin Lake

My plein air ink and watercolour sketch of Opabin Lake 5" x 7"

Patti painting at Opabin Lake

Rhonda painting at Opabin Lake

Pat painting near Opabin Lake. Mount Odaray towers in the background (thanks for the photo Sharon)

Bob, Pat and Rhonda at Lake McArthur, the lake I sadly missed getting to this trip (thanks for the photo Rhonda)

Day three dawned cloudy and drizzly.  I convinced these three to hike with me on the Oesa trail as far as Victoria Lake ...

Sharon, yours truly, Patti and George (he's almost 81!) on the shore of Lake O'Hara

Ringrose Peak and Victoria Lake, just before the rain

While I retreated into the trees to sit down, enjoy the view and my lunch, these diehards attempted painting (watercolour no less) in the rain ...

George, Patti and Sharon

The outlet of Victoria Lake produces the amazing Victoria Falls

To escape the wet and cold, plein air painting was aborted. We returned to the hut where folks further developed what they had started. Sharon set up her easel in the kitchen where there are skylights in the otherwise very dark log cabin. I joined her there. Referring to the above photo (on the display of my digital camera) I placed my paint box on the kitchen counter and began the painting below. When the kitchen was needed for it's real purpose, I bailed.

My precious, antiquated paint box, from 1965 and art school. It has been everywhere with me 

Rhonda was our cook. Her gourmet, abundant, dinners were decedent, delicious, and capable of making the other hut guest envious. Each evening spontaneous concerts erupted. With her meadowlark voice, Patti sang and Rick skillfully played the guitar which hangs up on the cabin's wall. And yes, the rest of us joined in and we sang up every song we knew! 

Rick Hendlin, an independent artist from Solana Beach, California just happened to be a guest at the hut as well (thanks for the photo Sharon)

The expedition was magical and everything I hoped it would be. I hiked, painted, enjoyed fine company but above all else I filled my soul with the hours I was privileged to spend in the magnificently beautiful Canadian Rockies. Please click on O'Hara photos to view all of the pictures I took.

On day four we awoke to rain and the mountains veiled in cloud.  Rather than spend a day in that most of us caught the 9:30AM bus out. Truth be told, if it had been glorious weather I'd have hiked to Lake McArthur, which, with my already aching legs, would have been a huge mistake.

Special thanks to Patti for organising the expedition, to Rhonda for being our cook and to everyone else for contributing to the splendid time I had.
Not limited to painters, the group this year included photographers, spouses and friends ...
Patti Dyment
Rhonda Rasmussen 
Sharon Williams and her husband Dave
Pat and Bob Allin


  1. Oh what a lovely painting at Sargent's Point, and I'm literally drooling over that watercolour sketch. What fabulous weather, hiking, painting and song you had!

    1. Thanks, Win! The sketch makes we want to take my little kit to Europe - but maybe not - there won't be much time.
      I took so much from that trip - enough, I hope, to sustain me until I can get back into O'Hara again!

  2. Hi Alice: take your watercolor sketching stuff to Europe -at 2 min per sketch you WILLA have time for some!! Also can you please email me the 2 photos of me painting at lake OHara?

  3. Gorgeous photos and beautiful paintings Alice! What a fun trip!

    1. Many thanks for reading, commenting and complimenting!

  4. Oh my lord! I searched “hike to Victoria Falls” in Google and the first photo I saw was one I held a special reverence for. I clicked on it and gasped when I saw it was from your blog post. What a small world we live in. It filled me with a feeling that we knew each other then and then sadly I realized we didn’t. You seem so familiar to me and it makes me wish I knew you ten years earlier if not longer. Love ya!

    1. Your words are simply so precious Grant. They have made my day. We do need to spend more time together.