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Published: August 29th 2019
We head off towards today’s destination of Lake Louise which is about 50 kms west of Banff. The scenery is more spectacular than ever with the odd glacier now coming into view to supplement the standard offering of spectacular rocky peaks towering over thick pine forests. We’re on the Trans-Canada Highway which Michael tells us is nearly eight thousand kilometres long which makes it the world’s longest such road. It’s two lanes each way, and there are high fences on both sides, presumably to keep the bears out. Every few kilometres we go under bridges with grass and pine trees on them, which are there for the bears to use to get across the highway.
We assumed we’d drive all the way to Lake Louise and park there, but we see signs on the highway telling us that all the car parks and full, and that the only option for getting there is to park in a car park next to the highway and take a shuttle bus the rest of the way. The signs say that there’s currently a 90 minute wait for the bus. We knew Lake Louise was popular, we just hadn’t expected it to be quite
this popular. The staff tell us that car parks at the area’s other major attraction, Moraine Lake, usually fill up by 5am, and that shuttle bus tickets to get there today have already sold out. What? The car park at a lake in the middle of the wilderness is full at 5am? You’ve got to be kidding. It looks like we can forget going there today, and if we want to drive all the way there tomorrow we’re going to have to leave Banff by 4am. Emma‘s looking a bit unimpressed; she thinks that getting up at 11am is early.
We get on the shuttle bus. One of the first things I notice is a large white tin attached to the wall at the front of the bus labelled “bodily fluid clean-up kit”. This is a bit worrying. I usually associate a need to clean up bodily fluids with axe murderers, but it’s possible I’ve been watching too much TV. The “bus rules” which have been taped to the windows include “if you’re being bullied you must report it to the driver”. My three travelling companions have been bullying me mercilessly all morning - they keep reminding me how
old I am, and how bad my jokes are. If we disobey the bus rules we might all get kicked off, so I’m not sure I’ve got any choice but to report them to the driver. I wonder what he’ll do to them. Issy then points out another sign which I hadn’t seen which says that the bus is usually a school bus. At least now I can stop worrying about the axe murderers.
We arrive at Lake Louise. The scenery is again stunning. The water is a pale greyish blue colour and there are glaciers hanging from the mountains at its far end. Apparently the water is only four degrees, and it’s so cold that only a few species of fish can live here, and even then they don’t grow very big because it’s so cold.
The Fairmont’s luxurious looking five star Chateau Lake Louise Hotel towers over one side of the lake. The guys at the (only) four star Banff Springs Hotel must be scratching their heads wondering what they need to do to get that extra star. Apparently it’s not enough that they’ve got a golf course, a bowling alley, 14 restaurants, seven bars, indoor
and outdoor swimming pools, and a foyer that looks like it belongs in a royal palace; not to mention that guests are apparently more than happy to fork out 800 dollars a night to stay in their worst room. Someone at Banff Springs must have seriously annoyed one of the people who hand out the hotel stars.
Issy and I head off on a two kilometre hike up to the Fairview lookout point on one side of the lake. The start of the path is blocked by a sign warning that bears have been seen recently in the area, and that we need to proceed with extreme caution. We’ve only been going for a few minutes when we see a large brown creature emerge from the forest and walk across the path only a few metres in front of us. We stop dead in our tracks in a blind panic. We thought the path would be busy so we didn’t bother bringing any bear spray. We then notice that the creature has a lead around its neck, and relax a bit as we watch the dog’s owner emerge from the forest a few metres behind it. The view from
the lookout back towards Chateau Lake Louise and the mountains behind it is again stunning.
Issy is itching for Japanese food so we eat at the type where you take the food off a train as it goes around on a track in front of you. The downside of these places is that you keep eating and then realise that you were actually full a long time ago. We waddle back to the hotel feeling completely bloated.
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