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Published: October 2nd 2009
Why Lake Louise?
Once upon a time, a newly married couple were having breakfast in a tiny motel dining room overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Diamond Head—in AUSTRALIA, a bit north of Myall Lakes.
Though the view out the large picture window was the main attention getter, on one small patch of wall there was a gorgeous poster of Lake Louise in British Columbia, Canada.
“I was there once -- it's so beautiful,” she gushed. Then, airily, “One day I'll take you there.”
That was 35 years ago, and Martha is FINALLY able to keep that promise to Phil. The newlyweds are now grey nomads, but hey, a promise is a promise.
When planning the trip to the north, whenever people asked, “Where are you going?” our only sure destination was Lake Louise.
Lake Louise was such an icon to us, that when we got to the Lake Louise campground in the evening we decided to wait till morning to drive the last few kms to the lake itself.
Next morning we decided to savor our first views of the lake and have our breakfast right there, so we drove to the parking lot
Lake Louise early morning
We liked how the shadow looked like a giant butterfly over the lake.
early, carried our coffee and bread and jam to a lakeside bench and sat watching the morning light play across the face of the lake and the mountains and the glaciers.
We also watched the tourists taking pictures of each other, including one marvellous old woman who took a few steps from her wheelchair to the lake edge, turned, balanced and smiled back at the elderly man with the camera.
Ellen, the lower glacier just isn't there! In 1970, the Lower Victoria Glacier was right at the edge of the lake, on the opposite shore from the grand Victoria Hotel. But glaciers are receding across the north, and the lower Victoria is now way back up the valley from where it once was.
The weather was totally beautiful but rain was expected the next day, so we took the advise of a photographer we met and set out on an ambitious circuit hike. We hiked up to Agnes Lake, had morning tea in the teahouse there, took the walk around the edge of this high elevation lake, climbed the steep switchbacks to the top of the “beehive”, and then went down an alternate back trail, aiming for
View of teahouse and Beehive from below
Can you see the teahouse? Tiny in the middle. The Beehive is to the left. We climbed to the top of the Beehive!
the Plain of 6 Glaciers, but finally turning short of there and heading back through the valley where the Lower Victoria Glacier used to be when in 1970, down to the lake shore and back the length of the lake to the grand hotel.
We were SO tired, after an icecream from one of the hotel kiosks, and a rest on a garden bench, we fairly hobbled back to the parking lot where we'd left the van.
It reminded us of the day 34 years ago that we'd climbed Mt. Kosciusko, the tallest mountain in Australia (but which isn't as high as the Rockies of course). We had been so exhuasted that we lay in our tent in the campground at 7pm in the bright Australian summertime, unable to sleep for hours, listening to children playing outside.
So this time, having actually learned from experience, we took an easy way out, with a gin and tonic and a nice meal at a restaurant, and laughing over our day till the tears ran down my cheeks. Then we climbed into our cozy van and slept easily and well.
At the Lake Louise campground they've ratcheted
First rest stop
Going up through the forest wasn't too hard.
up the bear/people situation to a new level. The tenters' campground is encircled with an electric fence to keep the campers in and the bears out!!
We still had to observe the “bare campground” policy, but the park wardens were taking fewer chances.
Wait till you hear about the bear rules at Moraine Lake—but that's in the next installment.
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