Banff and Lake Louise

Trip Start Oct 08, 2005
Trip End Oct 06, 2006

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Banff - nice town but god, what a tourist trap. It has a beautiful setting, right in the Rockies, and its a nice enough town centre with the usual wooden buildings as befit the area, but the shops all sell tourist crap at overinflated prices, accommodation is expensive, and I just didn't get its appeal really. The outskirts were much much nicer to be in, hence my reason for taking a horseback ride through the Rockies. Got to be done really, even though I'm still quite scared of horses (I wasn't cured after my ride in India) - I was bored of walking and wanted something else to do the work for a change. It was a fantastic experience, my horse Tomahawk was a beauty, and good as gold - he stuck to the trail like glue, kept his position in line and once I'd got used to him setting off at a random trot, it was very enjoyable. And of course the scenery was amazing - we went up Sulphur Mountain, through narrow trails in the forest, coming down the other side across the river (yes, the horse walked through the river, yes, I was terrified) and then out in to the open vistas of the beautiful snow-capped Rockies. It wasn't so much fun when I got down after 3 hours riding though - I couldn't actually put my legs together and know exactly why John Wayne walked as he did. Also my hangover was worse (Banff has good nightlife) as my spine had been battered into my brain repeatedly as the horse trotted. I really should take riding lessons in future. But it was worth it, definitely.

After one more night in Banff, I took the short distance trip up to Lake Louise, the most photographed lake in the world apparently. I can see why, its absolutely stunning - turquoise blue (caused by reflections from rockflour being sent down off the glacier), with a backdrop of mountains and the Victoria Glacier, and overlooked by the amazing Chateau Lake Louise (a v expensive hotel). Unfortunately it was also overlooked by the populations of Japan and Korea, who seemed to have moved here for the day, armed with their cameras and video recorders, which made it a fairly annoying place to be. I stayed a couple of days, and was able to do a couple of walks in the area (albeit painful ones, back and inner thighs still wrecked from horse riding) that gave a bit of peace and quiet. The best one was the walk up one of the nearby mountains to Lake Agnes, absolutely stunning as you will be able to see from my photos. About 15km away down a beautiful mountain valley is Moraine Lake, which is even more breathtaking than Lake Louise, and a lot quieter. Lets hope it stays that way.
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