Road Trip (5): Emerald Lake & Lake Louise

I had though that this afternoon we might visit Lake Louise, which is further up the Trans Canada Highway in Banff National Park. Although the lake has a reputation for being rather too popular with tourists, it seemed a shame to be in the area and not to visit.

After a chat with Casey, though, we changed our plans a little, and aimed for Emerald Lake, in the same direction, but still on this side of the B.C./Alberta border, in Yoho National Park. Either way, we had to drive through the Kicking Horse Canyon – a very scenic route with the road hugging the mountain side, and a steep drop down into the canyon – slightly alarming for one like myself that suffers from vertigo. Although it wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t really helped by Grandmere’s comments “It’s a looong way down” and “what a steep drop”.

Although we didn’t stay too long at the lake, as it was rather cold and I was concerned about turning Grandmere into a block of ice, the lake was well worth the visit, and there were very few other visitors. Much of the lake was still frozen over, and the only thing spoiling the view were some of the chalets peeking out from between the trees.

Once we had seen the lake, we continued on to the nearby town of Field for a late lunch at a cute little cafe called Chercher la Vache. Field is a small town, situated on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Although on our way up here we hadn’t seen too many trains, we seem to have seen a lot more now that we’re up in the mountains. With the exception of one (empty) passenger train, they were all 100+ wagon freight trains.

With lunch inside us, we decided to make the push for Lake Louise after all, only 30 or so km further down the road. I was pleased to find that we would pass the Spiral Railroad Tunnels, a great feat of engineering which I remember from a previous family trip, 14 years ago. Like so many things, this time of year, though, the viewpoint was closed so I was left disappointed.

This is probably the only time of year you can visit Lake Louise and find the car park empty. I flung my camera bag over my shoulder with enthusiasm, and then my heart stopped as I felt something fly out and hit the ground with a terrible smash. My new camera?? No, thanks heavens, just the bottle of gin that Grandmere insisted we needed!

The lake was frozen over with a layer of thick snow. It would have made a good photograph, and something other than the typical photo seen of the lake, if it weren’t for the overcast sky which merged rather seamlessly into the snow on the mountains and lakes. As it was, it was a little dull and miserable looking, not helped by the fact that the snow had been tramped on. Before coming I was sure that I had been to Lake Louise in the past, but seeing it, I have no recollection at all.

On the way back I took the side road up to Maligne Lake, another well known spot which is touted as being more attractive and less popular.Unfortunately, as soon as we took the turning, we discovered that the road was blocked by 2 feet of snow.

The drive back to Golden was lovely. The sun finally broke through some of the cloud to shine on the mountains and around us. For a period in the river valley, we ran alongside a beautiful creek, and I was desparate to take a photograph. Unfortunately, there were no stopping places around, so the spot will have to stay in my memories only.

Back in the motel the long day caught up with us, and we spent a relaxing evening reading our books and snoozing. Going out for dinner seemed too much hassle, so we settled for cheese sandwiches. Sitting on the bed in a motel room, scavenging some dinner, reminded me of Mum and I, five years ago in Bluff, Utah. I seem to remember that that dinner was limited to pepperoni and pickles!

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