Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau did not disappoint – it was just as beautiful as in all the pictures.
The views out our window were no like other.
We were spoilt for dining choices and after a sumptuous meal, hopped into our feathered beds and slept soundly, excited by the prospect of paddling the famous turquoise, glacier fed lake in the morning.
Once at the lakeside boat shed, Andrew & I were allocated one boat with the 2 little girls while Rob had the 2 littler boys to paddle with. While there were quite a few like minded tourists also paddling on the Lake and also traipsing along the hiking trail along one perimeter, the size and beauty of the surrounding mountains and the expanse of turquoise water dwarfed the crowds. It was magical.
On landing our vessels, we departed the Chateau for the Lake Lousie Gondola.
Just one third of the way up the chair ride, a power outage occured. Suspended some 30 feet above the ground, we were unaware of the reason for our halt. My heart beat a little fast as the kids wiggled and wormed on the open chair, squirrel spotting and mountain gawking. Neither Rob (who was in a chair a little way ahead) or I were totally comfortable with the situation but with a solution outside of our control, we just absorbed the beauty of our surrounds.
Eventually a diesel generator was deployed to move the chairlift again so that we could reach the mountain peak and disembark. As the generator only operated the lift at quarter speed, we had plenty of time to spot wildlife and would you believe we were rewarded with a siting of a Grizzly Bear and her cub. She was calmly browsing for berries on the open grasslands below us.
At the top, we were happy to stretch our legs, however due to the power outage, we, along with about two hundred other tourists, needed to be evacuated down to the base. It sure was a hairy ride in a four wheel drive along a narrow track!
Our planned Bear exploration journey was cancelled and we took good advice to traverse toward Banff along the Bow Parkway to finish the day.
It was a very warm afternoon (unseasonal, I’m told) but it didn’t deter us from a brilliant hike to see Johnson’s Canyon.
As the sun set, we drove into Banff for dinner before meandering a further 20km down the road to Canmore to find our Hotel.
Everyone was a little excited to be now based in one spot for longer than one night, (Canmore – 2 nights!) so we treated ourselves to some groceries and a home style, cooked, full breakfast that Rob prepared while I kept the washing machine humming.
With tummies full, we back tracked toward Lake Louise again. This was the view as we left Canmore!
Our hotel had gifted us a few goodies, one was a selfie stick that provided great entertainment. We eventually got the hang of it!
Due to our misshapen Lake Louise Gondola experience the day before, we were granted a free ride and the opportunity to join the day’s Bear Exploration Walk. While many hikes were closed due to bear activity, the guided walk was very informative and the kids lapped up all the information shared by our guide.
We were all left with an action plan in case of bear encounters.
Mosquitoes proved a deterrent on some walks – this surprised us as we thought the cooler mountain air would not be favourable for their survival.
How wrong we were!
After doing a little souvenir shopping in Banff, we rode the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Thank goodness it was enclosed because the ride up was a little unsettling for those of us who have great respect for heights!
Our photos certainly do not reflect the ruggedness of the landscape and the dizzying height and view we had of Banff, Lake Minnewanka and surrounds.
I was a little reluctant to ride down in the Gondola and also a little put off by the line of people waiting so made an unpopular executive decision that we should walk the 5.7km to the bottom.
After a few moans and groans from the kids, we embraced the downhill path and the time passed quickly as we traversed along the switchbacks. We did pass a few hikers heading up the trail, all of which were a little red faced and most stopped to ask how much further they had to go! Clearly downhill hiking was a little less strenuous.
Reaching the bottom was very rewarding, We inspected the Hot Springs which were quite crowded – we didn’t feel inclined to have a dip.
Dinner out again before bedding down at Canmore for our second night.
The next morning we again packed our bags, kids had a swim and we headed to Lake Minnewanka, the largest man made lake of the region.
A short hike, part the way round the perimeter before we decided it was indeed time to head to Calgary.
Hiking shoes and shorts would now be swapped for boots, jeans and cowboy hats – Calgary Stampede here we come!