|Today we visited beautiful Lake Louise. We learned it has many nicknames: the Hiking Capital of Canada, the Skiing Capital of Canada, the Romance Capital of Canada (tied with Niagara Falls), the Diamond in the Wilderness, and finally, the Jewel in the Heart of the Canadian Rockies.
We also discovered that Lake Louise is both a lake and a town. The small town provides dining and lodging options for travelers, as well as basic services. It is the highest community in Canada at 5,020 feet. But, the Lake Louise that most people picture is the stunning milky green lake itself, high on the must-see list for visitors to the province of Alberta. We can certainly understand why!
We drove up to the Lake Louise parking lot and quietly made our way to the main viewpoint. After lingering there for a bit, we decided to take the very pleasant walk up the Louise Creek trail. It was supposed to take approximately 45 minutes, but it took us more like 2 hours to make it round trip.
The famed Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Resort sits grandly at the head of Lake Louise, as though it were guarding its pristine waters. We understand that one of the many pleasures of staying at this elegant grand hotel is the ability to watch the rising sunlight reflected from the peaks of mountains and expanse of glacier. It certainly would be breathtaking to stand on the shore, or even at a hotel window and watch mountain, glacier and blue sky change color as they are reflected in the mirror-smooth surface of the lake!
The park-like grounds of the Chateau Lake Louise are open to the public, and a great place for visitors to have a first look at this stunning lake. More than a mile away, at the far end, flowing down the valley between Fairview Mountain and Whyte Mountain, is the massive Victoria Glacier. Its white top hints at the massive size of glacier that controls the top of the mountain, but it is only the forward edge of the huge expanse of ice beyond. As the edge nears the lake, it takes on the color of the rock rubble that it has wrenched from the mountainsides, before ending in a broad delta of stone and gravel – glacial moraine -- as it reaches the lake.
The cold waters from its melt carry with them the rock dust from the constant grinding of surrounding bedrock as the massive weight of the ice moves forward. When these dust-laden waters gather in the lake, they turn its waters a translucent, chalky emerald green. Larry and I saw these chalky waters at the end of our hike. Wow, what a difference between those and the crystal clear water up near the main entrance.
After sitting and resting a bit, we hiked up to a different trail and headed back to the main entrance, totally alone and away from all of the other visitors. The sound of the wind rustling in the trees and the occasional bird call were pretty much all we heard. That and the small streams babbling their way down to the waters edge. It was terrific!
Cold and deep, I'm sure that this lake can quickly change character. Winds from the glacier would certainly whip the water into choppy waves, but today it was like a mirror, reflecting the sharp angles and colors of the shoreline. On one side, sheer rocky cliffs support a few hardy trees falling almost directly into the lake, while on the other side a steep wooded slope rises to a bald sugarloaf mountain. The lake, at an elevation of 5,680 feet, is about 1.5 miles long and 0.75 mile wide. It reaches a depth of more than 220 feet...beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice. What an amazing sight!