Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Lake Louise --- Banff National Park

Magnificent Lake Louise

Roger here....  We have been near Lake Louise Village in Banff National Park for several days.  One of my Facebook friends asked if we were in Narnia after seeing a posting of one of Dianne's photos. It does seem like it.  The scenery here does not seem real.  

The trip from Jasper National Park to the Lake Louise area was uneventful, except for the continually changing mountain views.  We decided not to photograph them on this leg of the trip, but we could not pass up this view of Bow Lake with Bow Glacier on top of the mountain.

Bow Lake and Bow Glacier

Our campground for the week has been the Lake Louise Trailer Park (in Banff National Park).  

Dianne here:  Before we arrived, the name of the park conjured up a parking lot with mobile homes in it.  What a pleasant surprise to see the woodsy mountain view park.  From inside or from our patio, we could not even tell the other rv was next to us.  Back to Roger...

  The configuration is very different, but it does make some sense.  We share a site with an unknown neighbor, but because we are at opposite ends of the site, we really do not see each other --- really private --- really wooded.  We are the RV on the right.  We obviously have a great view from our sitting area and from our front windshield.  

No Waiting at this Dump Station
We normally do not photograph dump stations :-) 
However, this particular one is beyond anything we have seen before.  Instead of two lanes (or one), there are six!  It never seems to be busy --- a good thing because we will be using it on departure day.  There are also fresh water spigots which we hope not to use, but they are there if we need them.  We do not have a water or sewer connection at our site, but we arrived with a full tank of fresh water.  We do have a 30 amp electrical connection, which is all we need in the cooler temperatures here. 

 The foliage here does not encroach on our campsite, but it is very close to doing so.  We have to turn sideways going out of the motorhome door in order to not land in the bushes.  This picture  shows the view from our outdoor chairs.

The Ever Turquoise Bow River
The park lines up along the Bow River. This is quite the grizzly bear friendly area right now.  Only hard-sided RVs are allowed in our part of the park, due to frequent grizzly activity.  The night before we arrived two bears were hustled away from nearby campsites by park rangers.  We are being very careful.  We store our grill every evening as soon it is no longer hot.  We keep the dogs on a leash when sitting outside (instead of longer tethers).  If a bear appears, we do not want to waste time untethering the dogs.  We keep bear spray with us at all times when we are outside (more about that later).  We have not seen a grizzly yet, but we would love to see one from a safe location. 


The weather was a little iffy on our first full day here so we did not want to venture too far (by foot).  We opted to take a short hike (.5 kilometer) to the retail area at Lake Louise Village (not on the lake).  
Dianne here:  We decided to hike over because the crowds here are terrible and the parking lot is often full.   Lucky for us it is so nearby.   Hiking to it via this beautiful trail was not exactly a hardship.  

Buffalo Berries
We did not take the dogs with us this time.  We wanted to talk to a park ranger first about the advisability of taking them in a (grizzly) bear active area.  This is a particularly intense time because the buffalo berries are ready to eat.  These berry-filled shrubs are everywhere in our campground and along the Bow River.   The average Grizzly consumes 200,000 berries a day this time of year.  Yes, we were wary, and made lots of noise so as not to surprise any bears.

Dianne here:   I was too tempted by the bright red berries and figured if the bears ate them, they must be good.  I picked just one berry and popped it into my mouth.   YUCK!   Even just one berry had a very strong taste.  It tasted like a very bitter grapefruit without sugar.   

The turquoise riverside views, even on this short hike, were beautiful. 

The touristy village was a trendy, shop-filled center.  There was a gas station, a small grocery, an outdoor outfitter shop, a coffee shop, a rock shop, a bookstore, a tourist trap store, and several other retail shops....  including a second story sit-down restaurant.  I had a surprise in mind for Dianne as I carefully planned this walk.  I did not tell her we were headed toward the village.  You see, it was our 44th wedding anniversary.  (What a nice surprise!  We enjoyed a nice lunch and toasted to many more years of adventure.  -- D.)

After lunch, we followed our steps back to the RV.  On the way I grabbed the ear of a park ranger and asked specific questions about getting to Lake Louise the next day, and about hiking with dogs.  She said that it would be much easier to hike in than to drive the car and attempt to find a parking place.  The road to the lake is often closed when the crowds get too big.  She also said not to be concerned about the dogs and bears as long as we had bear spray and the dogs were on leash.  She also said that at this time of the year, the bears were far more focused on eating berries than anything else.  She said to make noise so as not to surprise them.  I had read several scenarios as to how a bear encounter should be handled.  Our plans to hike to the lake the next morning were in place.


We left fairly early in the morning.  There was a possibility of rain later in the afternoon, so we wanted to get back before it got wet.  As with all our hikes from the campground, the Bow River provided the initial scenery.

Bear warnings were posted everywhere.  We were a little nervous (more so for Dianne), but we were prepared.  Others were taking the same hike to the lake, some with dogs (like us).  

I learned to become bear spray ready.  I kept the spray on my belt or in my front pocket for easy accessibility.  I knew how to hold the canister.   I knew how to remove the safety.  I knew how to engage the spray.  I practiced without actually spraying.  I knew not to spray into the wind.  I knew not to spray unless the bear was approaching and then not until it was 8 meters away.  I knew to make noise on the trail so as not to surprise the bear.  Much to Dianne's chagrin I sang a series of silly jingles, as well as the Purdue fight song, and others --- over and over and over.  I honestly think she was happy for the noise, but not the singing.

We crossed the river early in the hike, walking between the river and the tent camping area that was surrounded by electric fence.  Thus, we also learned how to open an electric gate without getting electrocuted.

The trail soon separated from the river and followed a churning creek uphill (for the rest of the hike) and  into the woods.  The dogs were having a great time, but Dianne was not.  The steady uphill slant, though not to the point of having switchbacks, was tiring.  (Dianne again:  When the friendly park ranger suggested hiking to the lake, she neglected to mention that it was uphill all.  the.  way.  )

During these jaunts when Dianne is not happy, I am not happy.  However, with all the singing, the bears probably thought I was happy.  The concern about bears increased the tension.  (Dianne again:  It was kinda spooky because we were the only ones on the trail most of that morning, and it felt really isolated.)

Then, we saw bear scat on the trail --- a big pile of bear poop filled with red berries.  Dianne would have taken a picture, but she was too busy getting the hell out of there.  Exhausted as Dianne was, she picked up the pace.  I asked, "Let's stop and get a drink of water and rest for a minute."  She responded, "NO!"  No further stops to take pictures occurred.

We eventually crossed a roadway with the help of a crossing guard and descended into a full parking lot.  I tried not to show it, but I was relieved.  I know Dianne was.  The dogs were excited because of all the people. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their bright red uniforms were involved in a flurry of picture-taking --- wish they had been with us on our hike.  (Think of Disney World on a crowded day.)  I wanted to sit down.  Dianne wanted to find a restroom.


Rooms with a View

The Chateau Lake Louise is an iconic hotel.  It is also a ritzy Fairmont Hotel.  Access to the hotel was supposed to be limited to paying guests, so we did not enter the building.  I did walk around the gardens for a few minutes while Dianne and the dogs sat on a bench.  I also scouted out a quieter walk along the lake and took a picture of the Chateau with its lake front view.


The crowds around the chateau certainly did not diminish the stunning views of Lake Louise, but walking around all the picture-taking people did get on our nerves.  We needed to walk along the lakeside trail where there were fewer people.  The people who were traveling in close knit inseparable packs remained near the parking lots as the four of us found a more pleasant venue on the lake trail.

Check out these amazing photos.

Mint Green Water

The return trip to the campground was far less strenuous.  It was all downhill.  There were more people along the trail.  I did not need to sing as much.  (It really was downhill all the way...even I enjoyed it -- D.)

Back at the motor home, I informed Dianne that according to my fit bracelet we had walked 9.2 miles altogether.  There was some agitated talking for a minute or two about never doing anything like that again.  We then prepared for a peaceful, bear-free evening at the campsite.

The next post will cover an equally beautiful place --- Moraine Lake.  Actually, I would rate it even more beautiful than Lake Louise.


We're having a cloudy, misty, chilly day.  Good day to spend some quality time indoors.  While I was writing this post, Dianne was busy with genealogy, except for those moments when Charlie attempted to burrow under her notebook.

He doesn't take "no" for an answer....

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