Lake Louise & The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House Hike
Updated: Jul 22, 2018
Vacationnnn, my favorite thing. We just got home from spending a week in Alberta, Canada. My first time ever leaving the country.
It was freaking glorious, and I'm still kinda riding on mountain time and that rocky mountain high.
I will say this was my first ever "adventure vacation", as most other places I have traveled to I spent all my time relaxing and soaking up the sun. But with the Canadian Rockies hugging this cute little city of Canmore, THERE WAS SO MUCH ADVENTURING TO BE DONE.
Day 1: 7/8/2018
We got the rental car hook up. For some reason I must look like a very responsible driver, because I rent a normal car... and the rental companies give me a sports car! What a really nice surprise. It had a sun roof, and only 3000 miles on it- when we returned it back to them. Could this week start off any better?
We kind of meandered around in the morning. The time change from Eastern to Mountain took some getting used to. As well as another magical thing about this place that we learned the night before....
The sun doesn't set until 10 pm. It is light out until 11 o clock at night! It's just wild.
Due to our late morning we missed out on parking at Lake Louise. Luckily there is an overflow lot with a shuttle bus that brings visitors too and from the lake for a bit. Unlucky for us... the shuttle only runs until 5:30 pm and it involves waiting in lines, plus we had some hiking to do. We made it but definitely on a time crunch. I would recommend if you are visiting to get your butt up early and get there in time to park right at the lake!
Lake Louise is this crazy milky blue color, but I hear that the color of the lake changes daily based on- time, weather, daylight, etc. The walking paths surrounding it were VERY busy with other tourists enjoying the view. We were happy to start our hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House and escape some of the crowds.
There are some things we realized about Canada right away...
Everything is weird here. Literally every measurement you know is thrown out the window in Canada... the speed limit sign says 110 (Kilometers), This trail says 13 KM, and Elevation of 2400 M. WHAT DOES ANY OF THAT MEAN?
It's absolutely breathtaking. & The pictures I share with you, do no justice. Get your butt on a plane and come see it for yourself!
Staying in Canmore is a 1000 times better than downtown Banff- quieter, cheaper, more locals/less tourists. Breweries! Coffee shops! No Park Fees... Need I say more.
And at the grocery store... how much lunch meat is 100 grams? Do they sell American Cheese here? What do Canadian's call American Cheese. Shit... We are getting Havarti to be safe.
People are SO nice. There is no road rage, there is no rushing, and the cities seem super clean (Get on board America!)
Hiking is the BEST way to see this place. Get away from the crowds, see this place on foot. The views are unreal.
This was my first time hiking again since I was diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome (AKA Runner's Knee). On some prior hikes, clumsy me, fell and smashed my same left knee on a rock... twice. The end result was bad. I would hike up the mountain completely fine, and then on my way down this excruciating pain would set into my knee. It would escalate to the point that by the time I got off the mountain and drove home, I could barely put weight on it. It took hours of icing and elevation to get the pain to stop. I was completely distraught. Imagine the ONE thing you love to do in life, is now causing you pain. Such a buzz kill.
I pretty much avoid doctors at all costs, I'm healthy & I just don't have time for that. But since this was affecting my literal fave thing in the world/life purpose of hiking, I had to get it checked out prior to my Banff vacation. The doctor was awesome! He had been to Banff before so he understood my urgent need to hike there.
Rest until Banff, Aleve for swelling, and a couple changes for future hikes: trekking poles are now REQUIRED. & That this wicked cute knee brace, must accompany you in your hiking backpack, just in case.
Resting was probably the hardest part. Weekly, I usually run my dogs a couple times, visit the gym 2-3x a week, yoga 2x a week, and hike on the weekends. To prepare for Banff and get my knee back on track, I rested it against my will. Welp. The benefits returned ten fold when I got to Banff and was able to hike not just one- but 4 hikes here! I am ecstatic to be back at it.
There are 2 tea house hikes that can be done from Lake Louise- the more popular one is to hike to the Lake Agnes Tea house. We decided to take the less traveled (but still quite busy) route and do the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea house instead. The trail is longer than Lake Agnes, but both can even be combined to be done in a loop. Since we were racing a shuttle back today, we only had time to do one.
Did not expect that we would be coming across snow on our trail in the middle of July, but I guess the Glacier Plain trail title, should have had us ready for anything.
As we hiked we kept our eyes peeled for wild life- I had heard of bears grazing in the area as well as mountain goats. Plus these views are just so pristine. You can't help but stop in your tracks to look around and take it all in.
The Tea House!
What a great thing to be waiting at the end of a hike. It smells absolutely wonderful, like fresh baked goods at Grandma's House. Due to the shuttle ordeal we didn't have time to stay and eat. But it was still really cool to check out. Guess I will have to return to Banff one day to get the full experience of a tea house lunch...
On the hike down I was beaming. All of that rest had paid off and my knee was back in action. I kind of didn't have a backup plan if I couldn't hike, so I'm glad that all worked out. The hike back out gives you another great perspective of Lake Louise. We passed a group on horseback, and couldn't believe horses are out here trekking in these mountains too.
All of this amazing goodness of a place and it's only day 1!
Stay tuned for more blog posts in this mini series including- our engagement, more hikes, and an 8 hour horseback riding excursion inspired by these horses we passed on trail.
-Laura the Explorer