Johnston's Canyon trail, particularly the Inkpots, is an excellent example of a trail that is completely different depending on when it is hiked. N and I had hiked this same trail back at the end of October, but the difference between the two experiences is stunning.
(Trail details here)
This time of year the snow is just starting to build up along the canyon walls, and the catwalks of the trail. It wasn't as slippery as it has been in previous years, but give it time and a little more packed snow -- it will be.
The difference in this snow was this it seemed thick, wet and heavy... very much like late spring snow. Here it is hanging of the crags and cliffs of the canyon wall:
D and I were much more interested in the Inkpots part of the hike, plus we had some serious time constrictions related to daylight, so admittedly we sped through most of Johnston's Canyon. But even we had to stop to watch the brave and determined ice climbers scaling the wall along the Upper falls:
Once we got away from the canyon and onto the trail things changed quite a bit. There was much more snow on the trail, and it was a good thing the trail was packed down as much as it was because if we veered too far to either side we'd wind up knee deep in the snow. It made the uphill that much tougher to climb, but the snow-spotted, sparkly lookout was worth it:
From the lookout, it's all downhill (and a mighty big downhill -- something to remember for the trek back), and the thick heavy snow hung in the forest around us, making the whole area look like a picture postcard:
From a brief opening in the forest, maybe 5-10 minutes from the Inkpots. Check out the huge ball of snow covering the tree on the left side of the photo:
When we finally arrived, the snow was covering some of the Inkpots, while the uncovered ones certainly didn't have the amazing colours they had before. But it didn't matter, the area is still absolutely gorgeous:
We didn't stay long. After being sheltered by the forest for so long, the wind at the Inkpots was an unpleasant surprise. Besides, we had about 2 more hours of decent light left and needed as much of that to get back to the car. We made it in 90 minutes, and headed into Banff for dinner and a trip to the hot springs.