Visiting Lake Louise during a Pandemic

Yayyy, the national parks are open!! With the Alberta economy taking a beating due to the fluctuating price of crude oil, the province decided to open up the national parks, probably to increase spending and to keep us wander lusting Albertans sane. Whatever the reason was, I was going to take advantage of this, I was letting nothing steal my joy, not even Coronavirus.

With that plan to enjoy the weekend, a girlfriend and I drafted out our itinerary and embarked on a 3 day trip to the mountains. Mind you, we are both of African origins so our mountains itinerary is nothing like those other … um.. um.. people who are more disposed to climb Mount Everest.

We left Edmonton around 7:30am and got to Lake Louise around lunch time. The drive was nice and leisurely and we had baked some treats (banana bread)for the road and picked up some popcorn (budget things).

Lake Louise Canoe Ride

On the road getting into Lake Louise, we came to a complete stop. Why? because there was a huge traffic jam, apparently, the whole of Canada got the memo to come to Lake Louise. Looking outside the window to the road that leads to Moraine lake, we could see the road blocked and cars being turned away.

We stayed patiently in our queue and eventually got parking (about 15 minutes walk from the lake itself). We headed straight to the Canoe bay, just a short distance (3-5 mins walk) from the Fairmount hotel. We were not expecting Lake Louise to be anywhere near as busy as it was, after all, there was a pandemic but by the time we got to Lake Louise, there was a lineup for the boats.

It took about 30 minutes to get to our turn and we went through the checkpoint to ensure we were COVID free. A two people boat rental costs us $89 dollars for an hour and this included all we needed – boat, paddles, life jacket and a whistle in the case of an emergency.

After spending 45 mins in a synchronized rowing and steering, I was tired. My arms hurt and I was tempted to whistle for some help. But I pulled through like the lazy trooper that I am, and got back to port.

Agnes Trail Hike

Two sentences ago, I was complaining of how tired I was from all the rowing. You would imagine I would take a break. But die-hard like me, once I got on dry land, I proceeded to the base of the Agnes trail. I had done this hike before so I was sure it wasn’t so bad. Only I didn’t take into consideration my recent intense upper body workout.

The Agnes Trail leads to the stunning Mirror Lake, Lake Agnes with the teahouse, and further on to little/big beehive. This hike is listed as moderate and is supposed to take 1-2 hours one way. It took me about the complete 2 hours. The Lake Agnes Tea House was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901 as a refuge for hikers.

The hike to mirror lake is 2.4km and once you are there, Lake Agnes is not too far away. The total hike to the teahouse is 3.5km with an altitude gain of 400m (we all know how difficult climbing up is). The altitude at the teahouse is 2,135 m or 7,005 ft.

Mirror Lake and Lake Louise are often referred to as the ‘Lakes in the Clouds’. If you are not as fit as me ;), you can hire a horse at Brewster or Timberline Stables in Lake Louise. Once you climb steadily on the forested trail, past Mirror Lake, and a nice little waterfall that cascades out of Lake Agnes, you would arrive at the idyllic alpine waters of Lake Agnes and you can go on to reward yourself with a treat from the teahouse.

After that long hike, I was planning to capture the exquisite views that I had worked so hard to reach, only for me to bring out my Iphone for a snap of Mirror lake and guess what? It dies… Like seriously dies. At that point, if I had an Apple employee around me, I would have given them a hard kick, my smartphone should be smart enough to know when not to go flat… that’s just common sense. Anyway, I was a little annoyed at my inability to capture the moments. Made it to the teahouse but they have no electricity or running water. Supplies are usually flown in by helicopter at the start of the season.

At that point, I knew I was going to have to come back and do the hike again with a fully charged phone. I also began to toy with the idea of actually getting a digital camera. After-all, you can only expect so much from a device that does so much already (all pictures here were captured on my second hike).

Those that are built like iron man can continue on to little/big beehive trails, but I spent the rest of my energy taking tons of pictures on my second hike. Enjoy the pictures~ courtesy Aby, the lazy trooper.

Back down after the hike, we were hoping to have some drinks at the Fairmount (I had saved up for a drink and an appetizer, a little slice of the bougie lifestyle, but they were not allowing non-guests after a certain time to the restaurant. So I kept my money and moved on. We can be posh after the pandemic.

Pandemic Preparedness

  • Parking was closely managed to ensure that only a certain number of people were allowed in, except in reality, there were tons of people there.
  • There were multiple checks along the way to ensure the people in the lake area were healthy.

Tips

  • Depending on when you are going, check to see if the Teahouse is opened, they are usually closed end of season, during winter
  • Have a charged phone or a camera to capture the moment.
  • Have a mask on the trail (if there is a pandemic going on)

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