Where We Be
|Lake Louise is certainly pretty, but a big reason for its popularity is that you can drive
right up to it. If you're a hiker you can see other lakes just as lovely but without the crowds.
|Lake Louise -- Plain of Six Glaciers Hike
|As you walk around the lake, you get beautiful
views looking back at the Fairmont Chateau Hotel
|Then it was on to Lake Louise Campground, set in a pleasant forest glen. The entire campground is surrounded
by an electrified fence to keep bears at bay. We set up our tent in record time just as the rain started to fall.
|Once the rains abated, we went for an evening
stroll along the Bow River near our campground
|Back down at the lake, we got one more terrific view of the chateau
|A steady uphill climb takes you far from the madding
crowd at Lake Louise, which is still visible behind us
|Looking ahead, rugged alpine scenery comes into view --
Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria, and the Victoria Glacier
|The terrain turns jumbled as you climb higher
along a moderately steep path to the teahouse
|And this is the teahouse (more like a madhouse if you ask me). We joked you should never
put a cafe at the top of a trail -- suddenly no distance is too great if a tea biscuit with jam awaits.
|The signpost (in English and French) says, "Notice:
Trail not maintained beyond this point." Ya think?!
|We decided to push on to the Abbot Pass Viewpoint – a much steeper climb. Looking back, you
can see a train of of hikers trudging up -- and, amazingly, the chateau still visible on Lake Louise.
|Our reward (at a point beyond the lookout) was a view of Victoria Glacier and a look
into a steep snow chute prone to avalanches used by early mountain climbers
|Above the chute is, incredibly, an alpine hut --
the second highest structure in Alberta
|Selfie with the snow chute behind us
|It looks like we're here all alone with Lake Louise behind us, but the truth is,
there are hundreds of mad tourists frothing at the mouth just off camera
Apparently all of Alberta was trying to see Lake
Louise at the same time we were. Imagine a
hundred tour buses disgorging passengers all
at once and it will give you some idea of the zoo
that is Lake Louise in the summer. That said, all
you have to do is walk around the lake and the
crowds thin to a manageable level. By the time
you reach the trailhead for Plain of Six Glaciers
at the far end of the lake, you can breathe again.
The name of this hike makes little sense to us,
since it's hardly a plain but a fairly steep climb;
but in any case, it's one of the classic hikes in
the Banff area. The one-way distance from the
head of the lake to the Swiss-built teahouse is
3½ miles (5½ km), and to the lookout 4½ miles
(7 km). Elevation gain to the lookout is 1200 feet
(400 m). The hike is steep but steady and offers
good views of glaciers, moraines, and some
alpine meadows, but mostly it’s a glacier hike
with a sort of desolate and forbidding feel to it.
|At the far end of the lake is a delta created by silt deposits from glacial melt. This
marks the end of the flat hiking and the beginning of the Six Glaciers trailhead.
|You can climb even higher to a waterfall,
but we agreed we’d had enough
|This hike offers good scenery in both directions almost the entire way