Jeez, Louise!

Lake Louise, by the dawn's early light.

Lake Louise, by the dawn’s early light.

After spending two days getting the Royal Treatment at the Fairmont Banff Springs, my husband and I were a tiny bit reluctant to leave (i.e., they had to kick us out). But little did we know that we were heading 35 kilometers west to possibly the best hike of our lives.

Lake LouiseLake Louise is a glacial lake, with that Crest toothpaste sheen that makes it irresistible to every shutterbug (including me). The Fairmont Lake Louise isn’t quite as historic, iconic, and crammed with character as the Fairmont Banff Springs, but it still packs one helluva glam punch, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect hotel setting.

The next day we’d planned our longest hike to Wenkchemna Pass (20 km. round-trip) so we crashed early, got up early and drove to Moraine Lake.

Surreal color of Lake Moraine is real -- I promise!

When you start at a place like this, it’s all downhill ( yeah,right)!

We were just about to start the trail when a lovely Canadian ranger informed us that we had to hike in groups of 4, due to “bear danger.” I was in a panic that we would never find anybody else hiking this route (or miss seeing a bear for that matter), when up strode 3 young men – also Wenkchemna bound.

hiking buddiesOne friendly guy was from Japan, one from Hungary, and one from Italy – they’d met at an English language school in Toronto– and they seemed thrilled to have 7 hours to practice their vocabulary on us. We were thrilled to have sufficient bear-prevention numbers to go, as well as new chatting partners for the hike, and off we set.

Bear-ly good to go!

Bear-ly good to go!

It was a perfect, startlingly clear day (after several days of cloudy, overcast skies) and this was a perfect hike –long way up

..straight up at the start, a long slightly elevated stretch along the Valley of the Ten Peaks…

Peaks Neptuak, Deltaform, Tuzo, Allen, Perren, Tousa, Bowlen, Litlte, Fay and Babel

TenPeaks:  Neptuak, Deltaform, Tuzo, Allen, Perren, Tousa, Bowlen, Little, Fay and Babel

…and a short, grueling end up a snow-dotted rockfield to the pass.

There it is...

There it is…

We made it in about 3 ½ hours (I’m sure I slowed the boys down considerably) and while they traipsed further up the mountain for an even better view…. going up …I was saving myself for the knee-destroying trip back down and lay on the rocks in the sun for an hour of satisfying bliss.

The way down was even more beautiful than the way up (because we could see the whole valley and could literally slide down the snowy bits), but the trail was still disappointingly bear-free.

Loved those cairns left by other hikers..

Loved those small rock cairns left by other hikers..

sign of success

tough flowers

Marmoset siting!!

Marmoset sighting!!

My intrepid co-hiker.

I was holding out for a bear encounter the next day on our short walk up the Plain of Six Glaciers, right near the hotel…

One of the six glaciers -- and yes! we did see a big chunk fall!

One of the six glaciers — and yes! we did see a big chunk fall!

…but that trail was so overrun with people that any self-respecting bear would have been ashamed to show his mug there.

The extent of wildlife seen on the Lake Louise trail.

The extent of wildlife seen on the Lake Louise trail.

It was our last afternoon, so I convinced (threatened) Larry that we had to drive at least 20 miles west on the famed Icefields Parkway (with brooding glaciers and jagged peaks around every curve) before we headed back to Calgary.Brooding Peak

Then just as we were heading back, we approached what I thought was a big accident: a cluster of about 30 cars were half-pulled off the road, doors left flung open, and people running pell-mell onto the highway. But no…half-hidden in the trees below, nonchalant as all get-out, a little black bear was calmly eating berries and ignoring the traffic bedlam he’d caused above.little bearIt was the picture-perfect ending to our picture-perfect Canadian Rockies vacation –with precious few marital spats, unbelievable hotels, great hikes, and so much beauty, it was ridiculous! poppies

17 thoughts on “Jeez, Louise!

  1. Wow, wow! I’m completely blown away. Those mountains sort of put what we have here in Cuenca to shame.

    Sounds like you’re doing well. Sorry to have been away. Been busy working on my memoir. Excuses, excuses! Right? I’ve missed you.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • So happy to hear from you, Kathryn! Been hoping your transition to Ecuador has been happy — and I’m delighted you’re working on your book! Can’t wait for that … ALL the best ! xoxox b

  2. Been there – and beautiful! We did the train ride from Banff to Calgary – you’ll see a few bears out your window, just where you want them! 🙂

    • Lizzie told me that you & your hubby go there all the time — I’m dying to take the train from Banff to Vancouver, as my brother told me that it’s the best train ride ever! Thinking of you, Ivette….

  3. Beautiful pictures Betty. When we visited Lake Louise our daughter was just a couple of months old so didn’t do any of the long hikes. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Did you walk up to the lake & teahouse above Lake Louise? That’s beautiful too! That whole area was a dream come true from Jasper down to Banff…the whole 9 yards…if I never saw anything else…I’d still be content. Spectacular!

    • Didi — no, stupidly we didn’t go up to Lake Helen and that was lame because I reckon it’s a much prettier and less-traveled walk than Plain of Six Glaciers. I agree about the whole area being a dream — seriously, I really want to go back and see more, more, MORE of those Canadian Rockies. We should meet there! (`:

  5. Beautiful!! Great photos!! Great vacation!! What more can you ask???Only that you come to Philadelphia!! Ha!! Come in October and I will get you and Larry passes for the Eastern States Penitentiary, “Terror Behind the Walls”. A well known haunted house. It is the only fundraiser the penitentiary has each year for refurbishing the museum!!

  6. Oh such wonderful photos. Resist the temptation to venture from your car should you see a bear or moose. Sadly, should a bear attack, it will be the bear that pays the price.

    Can you believe I’ve never been there ?

  7. Lovely, lovely post, Betty. I’ve only been to the Canadian Rockies once but I remember it as the most gorgeous place and your photos brought it all back. Thank you.

    • I need the same encouragement — I spend WAY too much time in front of the computer and in my head, and not nearly enough admiring this beautiful planet of ours!! Thanks for the comment, Barbara!

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