A Stormy Morning At Spirit Island by WJMcIntosh Spirit Island is easily one of the most iconic spots in the Canadian Rockies and has been photographed many, many times. If you want to shoot Spirit Island, you are pretty much limited to two choices:
Option #1: Take the $65 cruise out to the island with a boat full of tourists and grab as many shots as you can within the 15 minute time limit.
Option #2 – Throw all of your photo and camping gear into a canoe and paddle your butt off for a few hours until you reach Fisherman’s Bay campground and spend a night or two shooting this wonderful area.
I would have preferred option #2, but it involved getting a canoe and camping gear, both of which we didn’t have. But I DEFINITELY want to figure out how to make this happen on my next trip. Being limited to option #1, we asked one of the guys back in the tour shop if we could stay and take a later boat back, but he said that it would be impossible as most of his cruises were already sold out for the day. Realizing that we only had 15 minutes to shoot, all four of us were the first off of the boat where we raced to as many locations as possible in the brief time that we had to shoot.
Before our trip, I had read that the tour operators would prefer that we stayed only on the trails and not wander out onto the “island” itself as the island was regarded by many older First Nation individuals as sacred. Even without this warning, you immediately have a sense of wonder and awe as you look out over Spirit Island for the first time. There’s just something about that little grove of trees in the midst of the stunning, topaz blue water of Maligne Lake surrounded by those enormous mountains on all sides that just takes your breath away. We definitely used every allotted second on that island, racing back only when the horn impatiently blew and the next group of tourists arrived. We were hoping for some sun, but I think I ultimately preferred the stormy sky and new snow in the mountains above as a nice back drop to that beautiful aqua-blue water. Can’t wait to try option #2 at some point in the future!
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