Day 47: Lake Louise and Lake Agnes Tea House
We woke up to a chilly morning. It was 45 in the bus and 48 outside. We made coffee and then drove a short distance to the Columbia Icefield trail. It’s a quick hike up a pile of gravel left by the glacier as it receded, but offers a nice vantage point for viewing the glacier. There were tons of warning signs everywhere not to leave the trail because of hidden crevasses and “you will die”. The signs were fairly graphic with an artist rendering of a kid freezing to death. I guess they mean business!
After the hike we drove back down the Glacier Parkway toward Lake Louise. Our first stop was Peyto Lake. It’s a bright shade of creamy blue that is hard to describe. The color is caused by rock flour (dust) from the glacier that is then carried downstream into the lake. I’d seen a ton of photos of this lake and couldn’t wait to see it for myself. We parked and walked about 2km to the overlook. The trail doesn’t go to the lake itself, but rather to a viewing point on the adjacent mountain. It was a great view of the lake, but it was hot out at this point and I was wanting to swim! We walked around a couple of trails in the area, each offering a slightly different view (and several had less tourists to get in the way).
After Peyto we finished the drive into Lake Louise (town, not lake). The town is small, and full of cars and people. Lots of people. We make our way to the campground. It’s only about 12:30 but we figure we can probably check-in and leave the bus while we go to Lake Louise (the lake, not the town). The campground is HUGE. And our campsite is a full kilometer past the entrance. It’s also nearly a kilometer past the showers. We set up the bus, walk Pepper, and then walk back into Lake Louise town to get the shuttle up to Lake Louise. Its a 2.5KM walk to the town from the bus. No biggie. We hop on the free shuttle near the visitors center and ride to the lake, about 2km away. When we arrive the sheer number of people is a little overwhelming. All of the tour buses, hundreds of cars. We hop off the bus and make our way to the lake. It’s pretty smokey again today and definitely affects the view, but it was still really pretty. The Fairmont Lake Louise sits on the shore of the lake and looks really impressive as the only building in the area. After snapping photos of the lake, we set off on the Lake Agnes Tea House hike.
The Lake Agnes Tea House was originally built in 1901 as a refuge for scouts working on the railroad. It then became a refuge for hikers when the hotel opened. The original building burned down, but was replaced and still serves tea and tasty baked goods. The flour and raw materials are flown in at the start of the season and other fresh ingredients are hiked in by the workers each day. We ordered a small pot of black tea. It arrived a few minutes later. Freshly boiled lake water (seriously). The tea tasted great as it was starting to get chilly on the hill.
After our tea and taking a ton of photos we started back down the trail. The walk down was leisurely as we weren’t really in a rush. We arrived back at the bus stop at about 5:15. The last bus was at 6, so we were happy to have a little padding in the timing just in case. We rode the bus back to the visitors center and then walked another 2KM back to our campsite. After all the hiking we were hungry and made dinner and then crashed. We planned to get up around 6:30am to make it to Moraine Lake early before the limited RV parking filled up.