Ahhh beautiful Lake Louise, quite possibly one of the most well known lakes in the whole of Canada! We have all seen a picture before, whether we have realised it or not, and quite rightly so. Located north of Banff, still within Banff National Park, Lake Louise is a glacial lake located conveniently near to the Trans Canadian Highway.
Depending on what time of year you travel, you will get very different experiences of this lake. If, like us, you travel during spring, you can enjoy a bit of both. On arrival at the lake around 9:30am (get there early to beat the crowds!), I was disappointed to find the lake completely frozen. The reason for my disappointment? The whole time we were in Canada it was unseasonably warm, and my stupid self did not even realise such big lakes could even freeze over like that! Oh how I have clearly lived a sheltered and warm life… Sadly my dreams of canoeing across the lake and enjoying a romantic picnic surrounded by glistening waters and mountains did not come true, however, not all hope was lost.
Yes it was frozen when we first arrived, but you can still appreciate the views, they were just different to what I first expected. In fact, after a couple of hours I was quite glad of it.
We had a look at the many trails around the lake and we picked the trail that headed up to Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes, I had no clue at the time what either of this would entail. Now I know I said it had been unseasonably warm, but the ground less walked was still extremely frozen. This meant an uphill walk on a sheet of ice, there was no one else around and Alex and I looked at each other as if to say ‘are we stupid for doing this?’, we assumed we would either be eaten by a bear or we would slip and fall to our untimely deaths. If you look at your companion, or yourself, then all I can tell you is persevere, we survived!! And we finally found human life as we climbed further.
If you are considering trying this trail, you can find it pretty easily, it starts at the front of the lake near the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. I’ll warn you now, the first part of the walk is fairly steep and you will find yourself amongst a lot of trees with not much else to look at, Alex and I almost turned back. Please carry on, once you get past the straight path you will turn a sharp corner and you will wind your way up further into the forest, you will then stumble upon Mirror Lake.
Now I imagine Mirror Lake is called this because of its jaw dropping reflections, but of course it was completely frozen over when Alex and I turned up. But that’s okay, we sat on a tree trunk and admired the view, catching our breath back. Even just this first stop was worth the climb.
I imagine in summer the next part is much easier, however we then fought our way through thick snow. My advice is tread where you can see footprints, or you will end up butt deep in a snow drift. I can’t tell you how many snow holes I fell down, it reached a point I was getting very aggy, in fact, Alex had to walk ahead so he didn’t have to listen to my whining.
Higher and higher we went, until I felt like we were in the clouds. ‘This was totally worth it’ I said to Alex, not sure he heard me seeing as he was about 10 ft in front of me and was suffering from a severe case of selective hearing that day. You reach a point on this walk where you will find yourself above the trees, and if you are lucky like ourselves, you will have the whole place to yourself, overlooking the stunning Bow Valley.
After snapping away we made the final stretch to Lake Agnes, I fell through a few more snow drifts, found a waterfall, then clamped my eyes on the final target. If you are travelling in summer season, you will be glad to know there is a gorgeous little tea room up here selling hot drinks and scones. If, like us, you are travelling out of season, it will be closed… luckily I had 10 Malteasers in my backpack to stop me passing out from hunger and general unfitness!
My belly really was playing on my mind, I needed lunch and I knew it would take over an hour to get back down to Lake Louise, so sadly we didn’t hang around too long. It took around 2 hours to get from the bottom of Lake Louise up to Lake Agnes, this will be shorter in summer, and going down was a whole new experience.
I’ll tell you what, it is amazing what 5 Malteasers can do to your mood and energy (I gave the other 5 to Alex, I am such a great wife). Off we trotted down the mountain side with a whole new lease of life, in fact, I would recommend everyone who plans on doing this walk to pack a bag of Malteasers (Mars should totally pay me for this!!). I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life, watching my husband slide his way down a mountain through snow and ice, hanging onto trees for dear life, in a pair of shorts! To give him credit it wasn’t just him making a mess of it, I am pretty sure I nearly fell on my bum atleast 20 times, but we laughed our way through it.
For the fools (like me) who didn’t pack a packed lunch, the hotel on the lake, the Fairmont, has a great deli, and this also gives visitors a chance to have a snoop at the hotel itself – it’s pretty grand!
All fuelled up and ready to hit the actual lake walk. For those that don’t want to skid their way up the side of Lake Louise, there is a gentle path that follows the side of the lake. It’s a good old walk but much easier on the calf muscles! By this point it was mid afternoon and as the sun had been shining all morning, the lake was melting…fast!
So is Lake Louise all it’s cracked up to be? Yes it is, as long as you look past the large amounts of fellow visitors! Many people just turn up, snap a photo then leave. However, I would highly recommend setting aside an entire day to appreciate one of Canada’s most beautiful spots and trying out some of the many trails.