Lovely Lake Louise

Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
Trip End Dec 18, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ok a bit of a jump to Lake Louise- we caught the Greyhound here an then had to walk to the camp with all our gear but thankfully it was dry, so it was fine!

The last few days in Banff were pretty depressing with lots of rain, we had to change our camp pitch and buy another tarp for over the tent as the ground was getting water logged and although the tent was baring up ok i the rain because it is so small, just really room enough for both of us to lay down, so every time we opened the doors to get in or out the rain water dripped onto our beds making it very damp.

Needless to say our spirits were getting to a all time low especially when the nearest bus stop to our campsite was a mile way and one evening when we got off the heavens opened with monsoon type rain, just like in Asia except the rain water was ice cold.  We were freezing and soaked through and after a hot shower we spent the rest of that evening hiding in the tent from the rain and when that eased from the hundreds of mosi's.

So anyhow Lake Louise although there are Mosi's here there are a lot less, at our campsite the pitches are much smaller and closer together but that is because the whole campground, for tents, has an electric fence round t to keep the wildlife out but in particular the black and grizzly bears.

We took a walk into the village which is only about a mile from us where we mooched around and watched the river before heading back to camp to make our dinner of pesto pasta.

Tuesday:  How exciting a day out!! In our efforts to preserve our cash we haven't been doing much and boredom has set in!

We spent the Lake Louise Ski Resort area where there is a grizzly preservation project with most of the area fenced off from hikers so if you want to go up the only way is on the gondola and chair lifts.

We opted for the dine and ride ticket which is only $6 more than ride only but we had a $4 off voucher so for the extra $2 we got a buffet lunch.  We would both concur that the lunch wasn't exactly amazing or even really good but the salad was good, as was the coffee unlike the unidentifiable dry yet rubbery white fish and the bland slop which was labelled a curried rice with chickpeas and green peas!

When we went up on the chairlift I was so scared I tried to distract myself by scanning the mountainside for bears, without making any sudden movements, but alas couldn't find any bears.  You would think after Les Gets I would have gotten used to the chair lifts a little, well I suppose I have as I managed not to cry!

At the top we joined a guided walk about bears which was really good and we were shown a bear den, still in use for winter hibernation by a large male.  We saw scratches on a  tree from the same bear OMG huge claw marks and so far apart which gives you a real idea about the size of their paws.  Old bear poo, bear footprints and an informative talk on wildlife corridors, what to look out for to keep safe and how to react if you should happen upon a bear.  You need to adopt different behavior according to whether it is a black or grizzly bear, if it is black fight back, if it is a grizzly act confident and if that fails play dead protection your neck at all times.  In neither instance should you run or scream.......bang goes my plan of defense.  Also as the grizzlies are very active and territorially aggressive here at the moment we are supposed to walk in groups of no less than four .................erm there is only two of us so that put paid to our hike at the top, we had a bit of a wander but were both a bit spooked and there was no-one else hiking the trail so we turned back pretty quickly.

Coming down the gondola was scarier than going up, the T bar on the chair doesn't lock so should one pass out from fear and fall forward there is nothing to hold you in.  En route down we saw either an elk or a deer we are not sure as it was quite a long way down, I think Elk though and it was munching at the edge of the forest.

When we got to the bottom we had nearly a 2 hour wait till the next free shuttle.  So George decided to see if he could convince the nice attendant to let him ride the gondola again, well actually he was supposed to sneak on but being so polite and all he stopped and asked in his nicest British accent and was granted a pass.  $28 and you only get to go up once.........expensive me thinks!! 

I had no desire to go up and down again so I opted to sit and scan the mountain for the elusive grizzly bears and to my surprise, delight and then frustration I spotted dots on the hill which looked like a mother and her cubs, but without binoculars I couldn't seem them properly.  I did bring binoculars traveling with me for this very moment but George had them and either left them in the hire car or in the hotel in San Francisco, of course he has tried to deny this then since admitted that (or rather claimed that he shouldn't be held responsible as I should know better Than to let him look after things!!!).  I watched for about 10 minutes then they headed uphill and in to he forest then minutes later another bear appeared further down the slope so I ran downstairs to the gift shop, patiently queued to buy binoculars.  They didn't sell them but I spotted some behind the counter and asked to borrow them which they very nicely agreed to after I told them I had spotted a bear.

So I got to spend the next 15 minutes watching a large browny blonde grizzly bear foraging on the mountainside, it was huge and lumbering and truly magnificent.  It then headed not the forest toward the gondola where George was coming down and managed to get a snapshot of its bum.  We carried on watching through the binoculars but no more bears but we did see what we thought was a coyote, it had similar colouring, particularly its lets to a  wolf but we felt sure we wouldn't see a lone wolf in open ground, however later we were told by one of the rangers that there had been sightings over the last few days of a lone wolf so not impossible.

After returning the binoculars and waiting at the bus stop we carried on scanning and aw another 2 bears one higher up than the other which stood up on hits hind legs and what looked like a larger one further down but without binoculars we couldn't see them very well.

We stopped in at the village on the way home where we got a pie from the bakers for tea which we ate at a picnic bench alongside the river and made a cup of tea when we got back to camp.

We then headed along tot he camp amphitheater for a wildlife talk which broke up the evening nicely and kept our mind of the incoming rain.

Due tot he rain we didn't want to head back to our tent so headed for the large communal hut, where I am writing this blog into my journal and having a hot drink before bed.  However it is very noisy as there is a family of about 15 altogether with young children who are taking over the whole place and cooking up a  feast, but they are so bloody noisy I am going to give up and head back to the tent despite enjoying the warmth coming from the range.

Wednesday - a 21km round trip from out campsite taking in Lake Louise, up to the Fairmont Viewpoint back to the lake then down the tramline to the old Lake Louise train Station which is now a restaurant with a cool old dining car which can be hired out for parties.  Back to camp, back into town then back to camp.

We had a really lovely day with beautiful and energetic hiking, we went into the Fairmont Hotel at the Lake, which not very impressive from the outside despite being called a Chateau, but lovely inside and the view over the Lake to the snowy mountains is fantastic.  We shared a coffee and a scone for $8 rather than $40 each for afternoon tea, which I have to say was a very delicious scone and really good coffee.  We also managed to smuggle out a couple of extra butter, jam and peanut butter portions to take back to camp to go on toast for breakfast.  We never buy butter as we can't keep it but a couple of portions are just what the doctor ordered, those of you that know me know that I am somewhat of a butter fiend and to go everyday without butter pretty impressive. 

George was a little down a the thought of our camp after admiring the luxury of the Fairmont so I treated him to burger and a pint at The Post House Pub after we had been back to camp, showered and changed into our jeans, our jeans are saved for special occasions!!  We mad the most of time in the pub and sipped our drinks slowly then had a coffee on the sofas afterwards.............the luxury of a comfy chair.  Two older gentlemen who were in town for dinner from Banff sat next to us and chatted, they had booked in the restaurant upstairs which is supposed to be excellent but they confessed to it being rather expensive.  As they left they asked the waitress to get us another drink of whatever we had before coffee on him, how very sweet and it meant we could sit on the sofa's sipping for another hour.

We headed back to camp and bed around 9pm exhausted and cheered from a great day but thanks to the caffeine I had to get up 4 times for the loo in the night!!!

Up and at em for another hike, after our yummy breakfast of toast, butter and jam, courtesy of the Fairmont Hotel.  We hiked back up to the Lake then a further hike up hill to Lake Agnes and the waterfall.  We stopped at the tea rooms at Lake Agnes, not quite sure why there is a tea room up there, which apparently has been there for over a hundred years, but it was popular with all the tourists who had made the hike up where we shared a hummus sandwich and peach squash to fortify us for the hike back down.  From there we hiked back down the mountain and headed to the deli in the hotel where we had been anticipating a delicious cake and we opted to share a sandwich, cake and a coffee.  The deli is really good value for money because of the quality of food you get and cakes and coffee here is relatively cheap compared to other food and so large you can share..............bargain!!

Then our final hike by Louise Creek to our campsite, the river and creek are my favourite areas to walk, the Lakes are spectacular to look at but there is something about moving water in woodlands that really puts me at peace.

Back at camp a hot shower and I tried to charge my laptop in the toilets not very successfully which I was doing to have battery to charge George's Iphone so we have an alarm for the morning as we need to be up at 6.30am, or at least George does to be on the 8am bus back to Banff to collect our hire car which we have a full 24 hours which we will fully utilise sight seeing then getting us to our new base camp just outside exciting a comfy seat .................that is if we wake up as I said the battery charging was not a success.

We had dinner of chicken noodle soup, bread, butter, jam and peanut butter, the latter 3 items again were courtesy of the Fairmont Hotel oops I don't really think that it is theft as they were on the condiment counter for everyone to help themselves and we have to confess to taking a couple of mayonnaise sachets too.

Well it's coming up to 8pm and we are heading to the campground amphitheater to enjoy a talk with film about bears in the area.  I wonder if there will be a real live grizzly there for us to meet after all the poster says come along and meet the superstars!!

Well no bears at the amphitheater but a few good lots of footage and then we had a last walk along the river before we head off tomorrow to exciting.

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