A Travellerspoint blog

Snow and Cold in Beautiful Lake Louise

Saturday, August 11, 2007

semi-overcast 0 °F

The temperature was below freezing last night and it snowed on top of mountains! It's August! I take a walk around the campground this morning with a winter coat, hat and gloves -- but I'm still cold.
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It is very foggy this morning, but by the time we drive up to Lake Louise, the fog begins to lift.
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We're taking a long hike today in the Lake Louise area. As we start up the Lake Agnes trail, most of the fog lifts off the lake and we get a view of gorgeous Lake Louise.
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We were here 15 years ago for one day and I remember it as being the most beautiful place that I've ever seen. We were fortunate to have a crystal clear blue-sky morning that day and very early in the morning the lake was as smooth as ice. Simply beautiful. So I am looking forward to our hike with views of the lake and area glaciers.

As we hike up the Lake Agnes Trail, we meet a couple from Canmore (a city about 20 miles south of Lake Louise) who must be close to 80 years old. We will cross each other's paths all day with this couple -- they are almost in better shape than we are. I hope that I am capable of a strenuous hike when I'm their age. I really enjoy talking and joking with them throughout the day.

We hike up the Lake Agnes Trail to Mirror Lake and take a break to enjoy the view. Big Beehive mountain is the mountain behind Mirror Lake. After our hike up to Lake Agnes, we will continue our hike around the lake and up to the top of Beehive Mountain.
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After our break, we continue on toward Lake Agnes.
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We finally make it up to Lake Agnes.

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We find a place with a great view of the mountains and eat our lunch.
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After lunch we continue our hike around Lake Agnes. The lake is very picturesque, with a teahouse at the end (near where we had our lunch). There are many others at the lake today and the teahouse is filled with people drinking hot chocolate, coffee and tea. The teahouse was built many years ago when the park was trying to encourage tourists to visit. It's rustic, but pretty. Jere has no interest in it, but Joe and I take a peak inside.

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After we get around Lake Agnes, we head up the trail, with it's many switchbacks, to the summit of Big Beehive. We take a break at every switchback to catch our breath -- the view is incredible at every switchback. Here's a view of Lake Agnes from halfway up the mountain:
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And here's a view of the distant snow-covered mountains from the trail:
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We finally make it to the top of Big Beehive and the view is absolutely incredible! We sit on a rock ledge and enjoy the view of Lake Louise while we eat the rest of our lunch. That's Chateau Lake Louise at the left end of the lake.
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There's also an old shelter at the top of the mountain where several people are relaxing. We spend some time talking with several people and enjoying the views. And taking lots of pictures.

We eventually leave the top of Big Beehive and head toward the Trail of Six Glaciers. The views of the glaciers above Lake Louise are wonderful as we hike down the mountain.
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As we're taking a break to look at the various glaciers, we hear a roar and realize the the one glacier is calving off big chunks of ice. Very cool to see.
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It's a long hike, but we finally get down the mountain and take a trail that leads to the far end of Lake Louise.
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We again take lots of pictures of Lake Louise.
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We only hiked about 7 miles, but the trails were somewhat steep and strenuous, (and we took many breaks to enjoy the scenery) so it is almost 5pm when we return to the car. We really enjoyed the trails. The scenery was incredible. There were a lot of people on the Lake Agnes Trail and the Trail of Six Glaciers--and they were from all over the world. We must have heard at least 8 different languages being spoken. Surprisingly we didn't meet anyone else from the U.S.

We're tired but decide to drive over to Morraine Lake anyway. It's a pretty lake, but it's getting late and we're tired so we don't spend much time there.
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We then go back to the trailer and collapse for the evening.

Posted by jengelman 13:11 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Banff

Friday, August 10, 2007

rain 0 °F

We have breakfast and then pack up the trailer to move it from the overflow campground to the regular campground at Lake Louise. Another night of rain again, sometimes very heavy. Plus it is really cold today. The TV weatherman informs us that we’re in the coldest town in Canada this morning! Winter coats today and it’s the middle of August :-( It stays in the 40s all day!!!

The Lake Louise campsite isn’t as nice as the Jasper Whistler campsite, but we do have electric here. The worst part is that there is a very busy train track only about 50 feet away from our campsite.

We drive the Bow Valley scenic highway to Banff. Clouds and rain, so not very scenic. Nice hike back to a waterfall in Johnson Canyon--it even stops raining for hike :-)
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We see a large elk beside the highway and there is a very large crowd of people surrounding the elk taking pictures. I guess they didn't see the signs saying to stay 3 bus lengths away from the elk :-)
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Banff city is a mess.
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Lots of cars and the main street is completely closed with construction, but we finally find a place to park. We do some shopping and have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. Good warm food in a warm restaurant – it pours down rain while we eat, so we have a nice leisurely dinner. The only bad part of dinner is when the waiter informs us that prior to this week they had 4 weeks of sunshine. We didn't really need to know that.

After dinner we drive out to Surprise Point to view the famous Banff Springs Hotel.
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It’s drizzling so it is a quick stop, as most stops are today in the rain. Then we drive out to the Cave and Basin National Historic Park, the site of the first Canadian national park. The inside museum has already closed but we can walk around the outside to see the original hot springs resort. They also have a boardwalk leading to the original hot springs above the resort.
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We also drive around town on the Tunnel Mountain Road with a few quick stops. The rain and low clouds are putting a damper on what is supposed to be a beautiful town.

Then back to the trailer to play a game of Life and bedtime.

Posted by jengelman 13:42 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Icefields Parkway, Jasper and Banff National Parks, Canada

Thursday, August 9, 2007

all seasons in one day 0 °F

It poured over night, but the rain has stopped this morning. We wake up early to get an early start to Lake Louise. Good plan, but we cannot get the trailer hitched when it’s time to leave. After about 20 minutes, we finally manage to get the hitch to close properly. We’re wondering if we bent it when we were trying to get it unhitched a few days ago. Anyway, we’re finally on our way.

It’s definitely colder today and apparently the rain last night was snow at higher elevations. The mountain tops have a thin layer of snow—very pretty.
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We are traveling the Icefields Parkway today. A very scenic drive between Jasper and Banff, with lots and lots of glaciers that can be seen from the road.
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We stop at the Columbia Icefields Center and decide to have a snack in the lodge before taking the bus to the glacier. Great view of the glacier from the window seat.
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After our snack we get on the bus that will take us up to the Athabasca Glacier. The total tour takes about 90 minutes, with an 8 minute busride to get to the snow shuttles to ride on the glacier. The clouds have lifted and we get blue skies! Great views!

The bus ride to the glacier is fine, but the snow shuttle starts with an incredible steep drop down a hill. Several of us can’t believe that we’re actually going down this hill. Here is a picture that Joe took of a shuttle traveling down the incredibly steep hill. It’s blurry because of the very bumpy snow shuttle ride:
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The tour guide tells us that it was 25 deg F last night and they had snow so the glacier is all white instead of blue at some parts.
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We walk around the glacier and take lots of pictures.

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We return on the bus to the lodge and take one last picture of the glacier:
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And a picture of the lodge located across the street from the glacier, where we started our bus tour of the glacier:
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The scenery after we leave the Athabasca Glacier area is also spectacular.
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Unfortunately the clouds and rain settle in before we get to Lake Louise, so no more pretty pictures :-( Then when we arrive at the Lake Louise Campground around 3pm, they’re full. The good news is that they have an overflow area, so we drive there and drop off the trailer. Then we drive to the Lake Louise-Banff National Park Visitor Center and onto Chateau Lake Louise. It’s pouring rain by this time, so we spend close to an hour roaming around the Chateau, looking at the art and architecture.
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The evening is spent watching TV in the parking lot overflow area and listening to the pouring rain.

Posted by jengelman 13:50 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Miette Hot Springs, Jasper National Park

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

rain 0 °F

A very rainy day today, but we decide to drive out to Miette Hot Springs anyway.
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It turns out to be a good decision. The rain stops for most of the time we’re in the pool and the hot water feels good.
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Today is not only rainy but it’s also cold, with a high around 50 degrees. So the lifeguards have winter coats on and the one is drinking coffee and the other has a winter ski cap on. That’s something you don’t see every day :-)
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We stay at the hot springs for close to two hours. What else are we going to do in the rain?

On the way back to Jasper we pass more big horn sheep and an elk with a very large rack.
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We do some window shopping at the Jasper gift shops, have dinner at A&W (again), and return to the trailer for the evening. It continues to rain steady. Despite the rain it looks like the campground is going to be full again tonight.

Posted by jengelman 13:04 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

rain 0 °F

It’s a cloudy morning for our drive to Maligne Lake. The drive is okay, but would probably be a lot prettier on a sunny day. Anyhow.... the highlight is the big horn sheep that are walking beside (and on) the road. They are very tame. I'm guessing some tourists must feed them, but no one feeds them today.
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As we pull into the parking lot at Maligne Lake we spot a deer. I think it's a mule deer because of it's really long ears, but Jere says it's a white tail. Maybe it's a hybrid :-)
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We want to canoe or kayak on the lake, so we stop in at the historic Maligne Lake boat house.
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They do not have any single kayaks left, so after looking at the waves on the lake, we decide that I should stay on the stationery land while Jere and Joe kayak in a 2-man kayak. They kayak for almost two hours – it starts to rain so they decide to keep it short. I stroll around the lake and do some bird watching while they kayak.
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We see more big horn sheep on the drive back.
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It rains off and on for the drive, but fortunately the rain stops when we stop to take our hike down the Maligne Canyon. The canyon is very pretty, but hard to take photographs since it is very narrow and very deep, with a roaring creek at the bottom. The walk takes about two hours and gives us a workout when we return to the top of the canyon.
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We return to the campground for dinner and then walk around the very large campground after dinner.

Posted by jengelman 13:42 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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