Slip sliding away…
We knew we were in the big smoke when we were warned to get to the parking lot between 7-8am if we wanted a car spot – and they weren’t kidding! Fortunately we both woke at 5:30am so hit the road from Canmore before 6.
By the time we reached the carpark at Moraine Lake soon after 7am it was already half full. Granted, it is a relatively small one, but still nuts! The icy wind was howling across the lake and it was freezing. Dressed in down jackets and gloves we embarked on the short but steep walk up masses of rock to the viewpoint. The vista that opened up before us was magnificent and worth braving the freezing conditions. The turquoise lake surrounded by craggy snow-covered peaks was stunning. A brave man had his tripod and camera set up waiting for the perfect moment to take his photos – hoping the sun would peek out the clouds, thereby enhancing the emerald water below. He valiantly took his ungloved hands out of pockets, offering to take a photo of us.
We decided not to do any of the other walks here as we wanted to maximise our chance of getting parking at our next stop – the famous Lake Louise – about 20km up the road.
Lake Louise – Canada’s most visited natural tourist attraction after Niagara Falls..…
The large carpark was filling up but there was plenty of space when we arrived. Rather than tackling the flat lakeshore trail, we chose to take the longer, steep trail to Lake Agnes, hoping to come back along the foreshore. Being soon after 8m, the trail wasn’t busy, although there were still more than half a dozen people around us as we made our way up. Along the way, we were rewarded with vistas of the Bow Valley and the incredible milky-blue Lake Louise.
The aptly named Mirror Lake was a pleasant surprise en route. The Big Beehive rising up behind was perfectly reflected in the water, as was the snow along the shore. Continuing our journey, we came across a waterfall before reaching the Tea House at Agnes Lake.
The Lake Agnes Tea House was originally built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, as a refuge for hikers, and started serving tea in 1905. The log building was replaced in 1981 but still features the original windows, tables and chairs. We weren’t brave enough to sit outside in the cold, so made our way inside – only to be taken aback at how many people were there before us. Fortunately a couple left minutes after we entered, so we could sit and relax. Rather than choose one of the many teas, we chose hot chocolate – a yummy treat and so fitting in the snowy surrounds.
We considered the upward track to the Big Beehive with supposed stunning views of Lake Louise, but decided again traversing the slippery snow on the edge of the cliffs.
Ironically, the chosen path across the Highline Trail to the Plain of the Six Glaciers was covered in snow in numerous places. So we had to learn how to cope with conditions we’ve never experience before. Walking poles would certainly have been useful!
The scenery across the plain was very different to most of what we’ve seen across the Rockies – almost more like navigating the Himalayas on the way to Everest Base camp. Fortunately we made it to the second tea house of our day, rewarding ourselves with a bowl of hot (oven and spice) tomato soup.
Sadly, the walk along the shoreline trail back along Lake Louise was marred due to a very unfortunate incident. Thought to be because of the strong winds, a tree had been blown down on top of a group of rock climbers, severely injuring three of the party, one of them critically. The latter had to be lifted out by helicopter – amazing ability of the pilot to land and take off in the area. Our hearts went out to the injured and those with them – and all we could do was pray. The feeling was subdued as we made our way around the lake back to the famous landmark resort, the Fairmont Lake Louise.
We had considered returning to Moraine Lake for another walk, but by this stage they’d closed the road because the carpark was full. So it was back home for a bath, glass of red wine and a game of Qwirkle (a game we’d learned while staying with Brian and Meta and we managed to find a travel version).