Friday, August 17, 2012

Lake Louise and the Tea Houses

Tea House Falls

Only about 4 days prior in Waterton the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The morning we wanted to hike around Lake Louise it snowed. We were a bit trepidatious to what we would find when we got there, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. The trail started off at the hotel and we decided to take the route that headed up toward the Beehive and onward to the Lake Agnes Tea house. There was about an inch of snow on the ground when we started and as the day wore on it quickly melted off, leaving a bit of mud in selected places. We had a couple of false starts, having to deal with bathroom breaks, and cleaning up after our dogs. The trail proceeded up immediately and into the fir forest. We took a short detour to see Mirror Lake, which was little more than a pond, and circled around the base of The Beehive, which was a small peak that resembled the beehive you see on those Utah highway sign posts. Soon enough we arrived at a stair case that ascended to the first tea house at Lake Agnes. You don't get a feeling of how beautiful it is right until the top where you reach the tea house.
As you come around the corner you see Lake Agnes and the reflections of the peaks surrounding it. The tea house overlooks the lake on one side and Bow Valley on the other. Then there is the beautiful cascading water fall that flows out of Lake Agnes. It was a bit too early to grab some food at the tea house, so I decided to get a closer look at the water fall and try to get a good composition. I found one, and soon other people saw where I had gone and actually lined up on the precarious cliff edge to take their shot. Continuing on the trail we encountered another long stair way back down a bit. The trail then traversed the mountain, again through thick and green fir forests. At the trail curves around, you grab wonderful views high up on the Lake Louise valley. Slowly the trail gains altitude and heads toward the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Set below (and safely away) from the glaciers that feed Lake Louise, the tea house offers sandwiches, soups, and cake all hand made from scratch. They receive supplies either by horse back, or by a beginning of the season air drop. All their trash is taken down by hand or horse. There is no running water or trash cans, you have to pack your own in and out here. The two story log cabin was built sometime in the 20s. Just as we arrived a bit of snow began to fall, so we had to put our raincoats on to cut the chill. It was quite busy up there, and we were quite lucky to get a table. Fortunately for us they took American currency, we didn't think to go to the bank before we headed out for the hike. Warm soup really hit the spot.
Photography in the Glacier Field
We would have liked to linger longer, but felt we needed to relinquish our table for the line of incoming guests. The hike down treated us to long valley views of the lake and hotel. The trail soon levels out to a flat easy stroll along Lake Louise. As we approached the hotel foot traffic elevated to super-highway style crowds. We passed some people rock climbing on the left, and stopped to watch for a bit. The hike took almost all day, and we didn't want it to end. I kept taking pictures and saw an opportunity to snap some pics of the red canoes that were for rent. We kept looking up the valley to the Six Glaciers, with a dreamy sparkle in our eyes.
Canadian Canoes

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