|JULY 7, 2014
Tonight again finds us nestled in the pines, this time at the Parks Canada Lake Louise Campground. Nice campground with electric service. We arrived around 1:30 and registered for a site. So glad we did. When we returned at 6:30 the no vacancy sign was out and there were 4 RVs in line, hope they had reservations. One camper saw the sign and turned around. Good luck finding a place – this is National Park area and no commercial parks available.
The morning started with a disappointing drive on the Bow Valley Parkway from Banff to Lake Louise. The information brochures promised breathtaking views at every turn and lots of wildlife. At every turn we saw more and more pine trees, although we did see one ground squirrel for our wildlife spotting. There were plenty of hiking venues that promised the spectacular views but we were not in hiking mode. We did find Baker’s Creek and Chalets. (just for you Zane & Sue!) Baker’s Creek was the kind of stream I remember camping beside on a family trip out west when I was a child – clear rushing water and boulders large & small scattered about, surrounded by a pine forest.
Arrived at the town of Lake Louise and found it is basically a strip shopping center containing the visitors’ center and several stores. There is one long street with the police station at one end and a recreation center at the other. 5 tour buses were in the parking lot along with lots of cars and RVs. After getting our Park info we headed up to the actual Lake Louise. WOW! The view was worth all the hassle. Reaching the area we joined the long line of cars looking for a spot to park. Cars were everywhere, lining both sides of the road and filling the lots. There was a parking lot just for tour buses and that was filled also. Finally saw a car leaving and scooted in before someone else could claim it.
The backdrop for Lake Louise is Victoria Mountain with its twin glaciers of Upper & Lower Victoria. “Ice Flour”, the silt washing into the lake with the glacier run-off, contains minerals that give the water a green color. In the spring when there is little silt it becomes a bright emerald green. This late in the season the lake is full of the ice flours and is a creamy green. A canoe rental on the shore was always busy while we were there. The combination of the bright sunshine, green lake, glacier backdrop and canoers made for a postcard setting. Not sure my photos do it justice.
We joined an historical tour of the grounds to learn the history of Lake Louise. The Chateau Lake Louise was built to bring tourists to the Rockies. The developers brought in Swiss mountaineers to lead expeditions to the glaciers and up the mountains. The Swiss also taught the people to ski and that attracted more visitors. The hotel was then filled summer and winter. To fill the hotel during shoulder seasons the owners began advertising as a convention site in the 1990s. Now the 554 rooms are filled year-round. It is furnished in a very elegant 1920s style. The newest wing has several floor to ceiling stained glass windows depicting the wildlife of the area and various scenes in the Parks Canada system. According to the AAA book the rooms start at a $290/night. A bit out of our price range. We did eat at the hotel Deli. We shared one deli roast beef sandwich, a cup of fruit and a bottle of water for the low, low price of $22.65.
Later we drove to the other side of town to the Lake Louise Gondola ride. On the ride up on the ski lift we spotted a grizzly bear foraging among the flowers. At the top we were rewarded with another spectacular view. Beautiful snow/glacier covered peaks stretched north & south as far as the eye could see. More pictures of course. (We spotted Mount Lefroy, but no Mount Cordonnier. Sorry, Leroy.) We then visited the wildlife interpretive center on the grounds. Did you know bear scat turns red/blue in the summer when they feed mostly on berries? One thing (among many) we learned at the interpretive center. The wolverines in the park live mostly around the glaciers during the summer. They need the coolness of the glaciers because their coats are very thick. They are nasty mean creatures with spikey teeth sharp as razors.
We heard on the radio this morning there is a forest fire along the Ice Fields Parkway that is contained but still burning. The authorities also issued warnings for hikers that there is still snow on the upper trails and a strong chance for avalanches.