As I mentioned in the prior post, we arrived in Lake Louise without reservations. As we drove toward the first campground around 11 am, the sign said, “Campground full.” But it was the type of sign someone would need to physically walk to and change the placard. I was hoping they were too lazy or it was always left that way. Turns out my hopes came true. They had lots of open sites. People were coming in till after 8 pm that evening and I don’t think it ever actually filled up.
The gal at the check-in kiosk mentioned there has been a grizzly in the camp often this year with a few cubs, but that she was “friendly.” Whatever that means? We never saw them for my disappointment, and to Kathy’s delight.
Now, the reason this campground probably isn’t top on anyone’s list is the trains! They seem to come by every hour or just slightly more often. The westbound trains blew their horns just a moment before passing behind our coach. The tracks were about 150′ from the back of us. The eastbound trains blew their horns on the other side of the grade crossing, so it was much further away and almost pleasant.
We weren’t really sure we wanted to stay the two days I signed up for once we experienced the trains, so we decided to see as much as we could that afternoon just in case.
When we got to Lake Louise, the parking lots by the lake were full; so we waited till around 5 pm to take the drive up so we didn’t have to take the shuttle bus. There was a steady stream of cars coming down the mountain as we drove up to the lake. There was no parking issue when we arrived, so we walked over to the lake, and it was surprising how much ice was still on the lake. There were also quite a few tall snow banks scattered about for June 1st. The elevation was less than 6,000′, so that latitude makes a big difference. I know there isn’t snow at 6,000′ in San Diego now.
We walked around for a little bit, but I didn’t head out the path along the lake toward the mountain that evening. Kathy walked down a ways and reported that the water color was magnificently teal after you got past the area with the slush and ice. We headed back to the coach to listen for more trains that evening. They didn’t disappoint us; there were plenty of them! The next morning I realized once my head hit the pillow, I didn’t hear one of them. I’m pretty sure they didn’t stop running so we could sleep.
We got an early start this morning and headed up toward Lake Moraine, but its lot was already closed and they wouldn’t let us make the turn toward it; so we headed up the hill, back to Lake Louise. Parking was a bit of an issue, so I let Kathy off at the Chateau to look around inside, and Dusty and I went off to find a parking spot. It took a bit of circling, but I finally got one and we headed off for a walk around the lake. It was a gorgeous day to walk out to the other end of the lake. I was even more surprised today as the ice on the lake was about 1/2 the size it had been last night. Probably due to the different angle of the light today, the color of the lake was an incredible teal blue. It got even prettier the further out on the path we walked. I’m not sure how far the walk was, but it seemed a lot further on the walk back.
By the time we got back to the car, we were famished and we were going to head back to the RV to fix some lunch; but on the way down the hill, I spotted a patio with umbrellas at the Deer Lodge. So we traveled down the hill a bit till I could find a place to turn around. When we pulled into their parking lot, a guy with a clipboard came out to greet us. He said we could park if we purchased a $20 gift card. Skeptic me wondered if it was a scam, but he made it clear that it prevented anyone from using their lot to walk up to the lake.
We gave him the $20, parked and headed over to the restaurant patio. We had a delightful lunch there. We had something I’ve never had before, they put blueberry jam on the bison burgers. I tried it and it was really good. I was thinking that was odd, but that I would try anything once.. and it paid off. And I was happy that the gift card worked when the check came.. 🙂
After that fill-up, we headed out to find the Gondola. It is on a mountain on the other side of the Trans Canada Highway.. We drove up to the the lodge, bought our tickets, and walked over to the ski lift to get on one. (Note: If you get there in the last hour they run, they give a big discount on the price of the tickets. That was a pleasant surprise!)
It was pretty hot inside the gondola. In less than a few minutes, I was wishing we had taken a chair lift up. They had one gondola, then two chairs, then the next gondola on the cable traversing the mountainside. To my surprise, Kathy appears to be more afraid of heights than I am while on the way up and said she wouldn’t go on the chairs on the way down like I was going to do!
Once at the top of the mountain, the view was spectacular. Lake Louise off in the distance surrounded by the Rocky Mountains made the whole adventure much, much better. There was a very brisk wind up there and the gondola heat was starting to seem a lot more appealing the longer we loitered up there. We did take the chair lift down and it was an even more beautiful, unobstructed view!
We took the chairs back down to the lodge. Once down we drove back to the RV to pick up Dusty for the drive to Moraine Lake. By the time we got to the turnoff, it was open but they wouldn’t allow us to make a left onto the road. So we had to drive up to a roadside picnic area to turn around, then we were able to head up the hill to this other lake.
Once there, we parked and walked out toward the lake. It was a similar color to Louise, but no where near as pretty. I guess the Moraine part should have clued us in. It was cool to walk around, there was a large “beach” area with rocks and driftwood strewn about. There was also a large hill of boulders that folks were doing scrambles on to get to the top.
We headed on down the hill after about an hour wandering around the lake so we could listen to the trains for the evening while we enjoyed beer and wine sitting outside of the campsite. A couple that was traveling back to Palmer, Alaska, stopped by for a chat. They had just picked up a new Rpod trailer in Minnesota and were bringing it home to Alaska. It was interesting to talk with them about living in Alaska. He was a hospital administrator and his wife a teacher. They had lived in Fairbanks for a number of years, till they got tired of the heat and cold there so they move to Anchorage as it’s a much more temperate climate than Fairbanks. Things I never knew..
We were going to pack up and head out in the morning for the Columbia Ice Fields in the morning so we bid them adieu and headed inside to get ready.