Lake Louise – Not Just a Pretty Name
Banff National Park, Alberta
I have been to many places in my travels. I have seen the salt plains of the Bolivian desert, the pyramids of Egypt, the canals of Venice, the temples of Cambodia and suburban New Jersey. However, I am not so sure I have ever seen a sight that has taken control of me as much as Lake Louise. It was a 15 minute break in between a sun drenched day and a freaky snowstorm when I visited. The sun glimmered on the lake as a Japanese families’ solo canoe floated across the turquoise lake. The freshly tipped snow capped mountains stood firm in the background framing the idyllic picture. In front of all this man made magic was the majestic Fairmont Chateaux. Though I have seen this picture several times before, for some reason I always assumed it wasn’t real. Now I understand why.
Aside from the views, Lake Louise also boasts some of Canada’s best powder skiing and Canada’s best hiking. As I stood and gazed nonstop at the lake for fifteen minutes, a guide’s voice brought me back to icy earth. “Today is a beautiful summers day!” his voice boomed. I looked down at my shivering body beneath 25 layers of thermal wear and looked at the tourists for support as snow fell lightly among us. “Last winter, temperatures got as low as -42 degrees Celsius. That means that any skin that you have exposed will freeze within seconds.” So basically not a good place to use nature as a toilet? If you are planning to take a canoe across the lake, there is only a brief time frame to use. The lake is frozen between November and June. The good news is that this is when the ice-skating starts.
I talked to Paul in the boathouse for information and not just because it was sheltered from the cutting breeze. “Yeah it does get pretty cold up here, doesn’t it! We get a lot of different nationalities particularly Japanese tourists. They love the adventure. June and July is comfortably our busiest time when conditions are perfect. Other than the canoes ($50 an hour, $40 for half hour), the rock climbing is incredible. (He points in the distance at what looks a vertical drop to me) I have climbed the one on the left before but the other one is known in climbing circles as one of North Americas most difficult. It is rated 14.”
There are informative signposts all around the Lake talking about the first white man to lay eyes on this incredible sight (Tom Wilson) and the reason the lake has taken the colour it has (rock flour mixes with the glacier water which feeds Lake Louise turning the water turquoise). Remember that one for Table Quiz’s. Another surprising thing about Lake Louise is its romanticism. It is easy to see why it is a honeymoon hotspot. There is something so raw, stunningly beautiful and naive that reminds one of the beginning of a marriage before it goes bad. Joking aside, Lake Louise is something that should not be missed whether staying in Jasper or Banff – it is much more than just a pretty name.