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Nymph Lake is a lovely little lake – a pond, really – found along the Emerald Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Like all the lakes along this trail, it is a “paternoster lake.” A paternoster lake is one of a series of glacial lakes connected by a single stream or a braided stream system. Paternosters occur in alpine valleys, climbing one after the other to the valley’s head, called a corrie, which often contains a cirque lake. Paternoster lakes are created by terminal moraines, or rock dams, that are formed by the advance and subsequent upstream retreat and melting of the glacial ice. The name comes from the word Paternoster, another name for the Lord’s Prayer derived from the Latin words for the prayer’s opening words, “Our Father.” Paternoster lakes are so called because of their resemblance to rosary beads, with alternating prayer beads connected by a string or fine chain. And the chain of lakes along this particular trail, I can tell you, is fine indeed.
But there’s more to it than that. Each of the lakes is very different; each has its own personality. Emerald Lake, the highest, is stark and windblown. Next down is Dream Lake, probably the most intimate and spectacular. Further down is Nymph Lake, shallow enough to support a healthy population of lily pads. And last but not least (and where the trailhead is located) is Bear Lake, with magnificent views of the high peaks to the south and east, and low enough in elevation to support the aspen trees that we love so much in Colorado. This image was captured at one of my favorite times of the year: when the lake ice has not yet formed, and immediately after a snowfall. That’s Hallet Peak “peeking” on the right side, with a hint of what’s to come up higher.
The photo was made using a Canon EOS-1V body, EF 35mm 1.4L lens, and Velvia 50 film.