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20051119_P_0218
Looking back to Lake Louise

We left Banff today in glorious sunshine, which hid the fact that it was still pretty cold, although much warmer than it has been. Our plan was to do a long haul down to Vancouver with a quick detour to see Lake Louise (named after one of Queen Victoria’s daughters) along the way. The Rockies really are stunningly beautiful and our few days here have really whetted my appetite to come back and spend longer here.

At Lake Louise we stopped off at Tourist Information to check the weather forecast for tomorrow. As it should still be good, and therefore the road down and out will be clear, we decided to stop here overnight so we could get time to enjoy the views. Banff was expensive compared to other places in Canada but not as expensive as Lake Louise.

We tried the Youth Hostel but they wanted a lot of money for a very basic and uncomfortable looking room so we left and went across the road to the Lake Louise Inn. The rooms here were more expensive but worth it, especially as we got a free upgrade to a big room with a very comfortable king sized bed. We dumped our stuff and headed out for the lake, a four kilometre drive up hill.

As the road comes to an end your view is dominated by the Fairmont hotel on the lake. These are normally French chateau style places that were built around the turn of the century when the railroad came through. This one looks like a modern office building and I personally think it is a shame that they built it here. It does not blend into the local scenery at all, unlike their hotel in Banff. Ah well, they did supply us (for a cost!) with a very welcome tea and coffee after our walk.

The Lake is nestled into a valley which became closed off by silt deposits. Rocky Mountains guide your view to the other end of the lake and the Plain of Six Glaciers. The lake looked pretty frozen but signs were out warning that it was only thin ice. The whole setting was a bit of a fairy tale landscape view.

We walked along the shore of the lake with snow crunching underfoot, the snow hiding any traces of ice that may be underfoot. It was a lovely walk with the sun just peeking above the top of the mountains still and the smell of fresh pines keeping us company along the way. At the end of the valley we kept going towards the Plain of Six Glaciers, a consistent uphill climb. We did not make it all the way to the Tea House on the glaciers (which is closed anyway at this time of year) because the path simply ran out in front of us. It had wound around the hill and through the tree line and suddenly we were on open land and walking in a snow drift.

The views back down the lake were pretty stunning, despite the hotel in the distance. There had been a reasonably steady stream of people coming and going (including two chaps in their late forties who sounded like they were talking shop all the way) but we had a few minutes with no one else around to enjoy the view before heading back down.

Our first attempt at getting into the hotel to warm up was in vain as you needed to be a resident to get in through what looked like the main back door. Most people also seemed to be in the same position, all looking for a bit of respite from the cold but none paying Fairmont prices. We did make it to their lounge but having looked at the cost of a quick bite or even just a cake to go with our tea we opted for the drink only! It is one of those spots where you could sit for hours just gazing out at the view and not getting bored by it.

With daylight closing in we headed back down to the village and our hotel, stopping en route to check local options for dinner. After a quick ten minute stop at the mall it was already dark, but it had confirmed by suspicion that we would eat in the hotel. The other option was the standard mix of ribs, burgers, steaks etc that we are getting a bit fed up of seeing.

At the hotel we made the most of the facilities and went for a swim in the pool (a bit on the cold side) and a soak in the hot tub. It was not quite the same as being out of doors in the springs in Banff but it is was still a great way to wind down and end the day. A couple of drinks in the hotel bar and a shared plate (well massive round tray actually) of nachos and we headed for bed.