We really do need to pinch ourselves on this day as we set out to explore Banff National Park, which, only a few months ago, coming from dusty Africa, seemed like an impossible dream; a place of beauty we could hardly imagine, a place of unimaginable hues in blue and white, mountains looming large and icy conditions.
It did not disappoint.
And so, on the morning of the 13th, after a hearty breakfast, we continued from our campsite along the Bow Valley Parkway which would take us right up to Lake Louise. There was consensus, when exploring the area online, that Lake Louise should not be missed. One really needs to hang around for a very long time to enjoy this area with all it has to offer, but we have only one day, so elimination had to be ruthless.
As the lake came into sight, it literally took my breath away!
Photos capture only the minutest fragments of the whole sensation of breath-taking wonder. I would like to just sit down and absorb it all… but try as I may I need to take photos, the compulsion to share is uncontrollable and yet nowhere near even good enough.
the 2 km stroll around the lake
looking back towards Fairmont Chateau, from where we first set eyes on the lake
Hugo walks up to Mirror Lake. Time is of the essence and I will not be able to walk fast enough – my steps are much smaller just for starters…
[photo by Hugo]
Finally it is time to move on. We head out to Moraine Lake. The road up is closed. There is a man sitting on the boom and cars are lined up. We wait. It soon becomes apparent that as cars drive out, others are allowed in. The queue is not long and thus our wait neither.
The 11km road, lined with the tallest trees allowing only glimpses of towering snow-capped peaks, winds its way up to the lake with cars parked along the road long before the end point. We decide that it is worth going all the way up as someone is bound to leave sooner or later. Sure enough, as we drive into the parking area, we replace the spot a visitor has vacated right before our eyes. By now we are ravenous so linger awhile to enjoy the lunch we packed in, surrounded now by those snow-capped mountains towering above us.
We will be looking for a rockpile. This is the quickest and easiest climb to achieve elevation to view the lake. The vision I have in my mind never equals reality, but in this case, the rockpile, right beside the lake, cannot be mistaken.
Moraine Lake, situated in the picturesque Valley of the Ten Peaks, is glacier fed and only half the size of Lake Louise. Melt water from the glacier brings with it rock flour or silt and it is the reflection off this that creates the spectacular colour.
[photo by Hugo]
we do the lakeside walk
the glacier feeding the lake
I am reluctant to leave once again, but the day is drawing to a close and we have one more stop before heading back to camp.
Much as the photos of the canyon are enticing, my fear of heights is turning me into a less than happy chappy at the thought of actually doing the walk. Fortunately for me, time is on my side which means the turning point is reached at the lower falls. I am sure Hugo is more than disappointed to have to turn around, but then he did spend an extra 2 hours at Lake Louise hiking to Mirror Lake while I waited for him down below; I think it is fair to call it quits.
Tomorrow we hit the Icefields Parkway… and please may there be no ice!