The Day I Spent Seven Hours in Lake Louise

I always believe that the best part of the hiking is that the scenery on the top is really rewarding. This certainly does not apply to Lake Louise. After two hours hiking uphills in the the pouring rain, I was disappointed by what our “top” really looks like.

Lake Louise is a glistening emerald and glacier lake surrounded by powering mountain peaks and the majestic Victoria Glacier. For decades it has been known as the popular destination in Canadian Rockies.

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Unfortunately, most travelers decide to snap few pictures in front of the lake and then leave. Leave the Lake Louise under the impression of merely a photogenic place.

But after speaking with tour agents and a few individuals who have made the journey, I determined to have a day trip to Lake Louise to further understand what makes Lake Louise every Canada Rockies travelers’ destination. Of course I did not have an answer and my seven hours in Lake Louise is far from my expectations.

My morning started with a 40-minutes van ride to Lake Louise with fellow global travelers. After our van pulled over in front of the Fairmont Hotels, my guide handed me my lunch bag and told me she will be back after seven hours. She pointed several trails for me to hike and kill the time. From there on it would just be myself and a lake – she drove away with remaining travelers to Jasper.

Hiking Upstills in the Pouring Rain

After walked around Lake Louise, I began my ascension on the hills to another small lake resembles Lake Louise. I met an old couple and we decided to walk together, but after few minutes they breathing hard and told me that they need to descend. They did not want me to hike alone, so they nicely referred me to a group of three Portuguese and we started our ascension

Shortly after, rainfalls started and had been a constant companion while trekking through the mountains for the next four hours. We hiked uphill for few minutes and Lake Louise is still in sight. There are two travelers past us and told us that the lake we wanted to see is only 500-yard away.

We w walked and walked, and there is barely anything worth noting. We looked at the trails and our surroundings; having no idea how far up the lake was.

Another hiker past us and we were told the Lake is another an hour walk. It was then that we were exhausted that we decided to rest and take some photos. Of course I was already tired to snap some shots.

For nearly two hours we slowly and carefully walked uphills in the pouring rain- passing by the travelers who excited to make it to the tea house. But my discomfort decreased as we started to breath in the fresh air on the emerald trail while half joking about how we all fooled by two other travelers from the start – “500 yards? I think it is more than 5000 yards”.

Eventually our destination came into view.

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By reaching this lake, we were halfway to the tea house, which most travelers said it is a place worth another hour of hiking. The lake was nearly threefold smaller than Lake Louise and it’s lackluster surface during the rainfalls really not worth our two-hour hike.

To this day, I still do not even know the name of this small lake and at that point I do not really care. Sure, perhaps this lake is beautiful to other travelers during a sunny day. But the beauty of this lake is definitely far from that of Lake Louise.

Three other Portuguese took the pictures with their point and shoot camera and some other tourists do not even bother to take out their camera. At this point, we all too exhausted and too disappointed to care about this place. We agreed that we should hike down to the hotel and have lunch to regain our energy.

Having hiked for nearly two hours and we spent less than five minutes by that lake because it was so not worth it. Then we had to spend another two hours to walk downhill in the rain.

Immediately Descending 

The Portuguese ladies and I went to the dining area in the Fairmont Hotel where we cleaned and had a break. There are many fancy restaurants inside the hotel. We traveled on budget, and with our casual dress and trainer that did not quite fit those upscale diners. We found a table for four for our lunch. We had a fantastic meal with sandwiches, chips, juice, and fruit.

After a restorative lunch, it was time to either stay in the hotel or go exploring other parts of Lake Louise. So it was there I decided to walk to the end of the glacier lake. It was still drizzling but it did not stand in the way of my exploration. I really feel comfortable to spend few hours around this stunning lake.

At the end of the loop, I spotted a traveler rock-climbing on the other side of the mountain. The rain made it difficult for him to continue climbing and he felt off several times.

The rain finally stopped shortly before I left Lake Louise. After seven hours journey around this glacier lake, I finally returned to Banff downtown under sunny sky.

I chatted with other travelers on the van and jealous of them went on the Colombia Glaciers. When planning my travel to Canadian Rockies, I had many dream places in mind. Among them, the Lake Louise was ultimately the only destination I visited.

This is the reality of  travel – you make plans but do not expect to keep up with them

But I am happy I went, as it was quite an experience to hike in the rain. And speaking piece and bits of Portuguese I learned from my Brazilian friends with my  new Portuguese friends was so much fun.  

Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

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