Entering our second week, it was nice to be in one spot for a couple of days—no early morning tent breakdown, nice leisurely breakfasts, and, simply, an opportunity to slow down and relax. We started our day with no alarm, but instead were awoken by a combination of some incredibly annoying crows and a surprisingly hot sun.
Before Ally made a delightful pancake breakfast, we headed over to formally check in. We found out that they charge $8.00 per night as a “campfire permit fee”—if you choose to have a fire—but, they provide unlimited firewood! (This excitement was tempered, however, knowing the tiny size of the fire pit.)
After washing up, we went and explored the Visitor’s Center and decided on today’s activity. Looking at the map, we thought heading to Lake Louise proper would be fun, but quickly realized the parking situation up there was a zoo! While fighting to find parking, we almost decided to abandon our plan and go chill back at the campground. However, a spot opened up. We decided to have lunch and then go for a hike.
We finished our sandwiches and began walking over to the Lake. Rounding the corner from the sidewalk, the Lake hits you with both its size and vibrant color. It’s incredible! (Although there were tons of people milling about, taking photos and such, it was still a pretty serene sight. After all, the canoes cruising around looked quite peaceful.)
Around the Lake Louise area, there are Tea Houses available in the mountains that can serve as destinations for day hikes. Of the two on our radar, we choose to do a gentle 3-mile hike to Lake Agnes Tea House, rather than the more intense 7-mile trek.
About halfway up the trail, we got some pretty incredible views down at Lake Louise! (We later found out the reason for the cool water color. Despite our hopes that this area was secretly a Gatorade bottling facility, the real explanation is “glacial till.” The glaciers grind the rocks into a fine powder, and then this powder is suspended in the water, giving it the impressive blue-green hue.)
A short hike more and we were at the tea house. The little cabin in the woods—set atop a waterfall and at the end of smaller Lake Agnes—was so picturesque. Although we came up in late afternoon, one can only imagine how awesome it must be to get up here early in the morning and actually use the tea to warm you up. Despite the exertion, the hot tea was delicious!
Back at camp, we began to make plans for the next day. One idea we had been throwing around, since seeing it on a billboard driving in, was taking a helicopter tour ride. At only $49.00, they seemed like quite the bargain! However, another billboard that caught our eye—and seemed much less sketchy—was whitewater rafting! We used the Visitor Center’s courtesy phone to scope out some operations before picking one and making afternoon reservations. (We figure, if the water is as cold as we expect, at least the sun and air will be warmer in mid-afternoon than it might be if we went splashing at 9 in the morning.)
Dinner was a delicious combination of grilled potatoes, green beans, and burgers, using our new cast iron skillet. We enjoyed a relaxing fire till the sun finally set around 10 PM. (Happy 30th Birthday to our friend Mike Mosher!)
P.S. Quick shout-out to both Patrick’s boss, Jon, and classmate, Brittany, who both combined to make this part of the trip possible! Jon put the Canadian Rockies on our radar and Brittany was quite insistent that any trip to the area must include time at Lake Louise. After the impressive drive in and today’s adventure, it’s easy to say the stop was definitely worth its spot on our itinerary!
-Ally and Patrick