Getting up early paid off. Not only did we get rockstar parking across the board, but we got amazing light. Like, AMAZING light. Lake Louise looked noticeably different at 3:00 p.m. than it did at 10:00 a.m.
The definition of awesome is to inspire awe. Today did nothing short of that. We were awed all day.
Twinkling, turquoise blue waters at Moraine Lake
Thanks to the helpful advice of a friend, we woke up at 5:30 a.m. (“ish”) and left camp by 7:00 a.m. to get to Moraine Lake as early as we could manage. Even by 8:00 a.m. parking was backed up quite a ways. We took a chance and drove up to the lake to see if we’d luck out, and it paid off.
After a quick 10-minute hike up a rocky butte, we came to the amazing outlook of Moraine Lake. The lake twinkled. The lake was an insanely gorgeous turquoise blue. The lake was crystal clear. The lake awed.
It’s pretty easy to make your way around the lake. There are lots of walking paths. You can even rent a canoe or kayak. We opted for walking around, even dipping our hands in the water to taste it. As-is, it was ice cold and absolutely refreshing. We explored for a good hour or so, deciding to take off as the next large tour bus rolled in.
Lake Louise’s milky aqua blue waters and an exhausting hike to Lake Agnes
You also want to get to Lake Louise as early as possible, as parking gets filled up quickly. Even 10:00 a.m. proved to be too late. Luckily, as we pulled up to the parking lot, one of the guys excitedly yelled, “They have dogs!” Despite Alberta’s genuine anti-dog policies, this seemed to be the one exception, as they then waved us up to a parking lot that offered us even better rockstar parking than we got at Moraine Lake.
The glacial runoff spills right into Lake Louise, leaving a trail of silt behind it, which is what make it a milky aqua color. Despite its color, we tasted that water, too, and it was just as refreshing, but a little colder, than Moraine Lake.
There were A LOT of people at Lake Louise, but it was still early enough in the morning that it left for some lovely views. We quickly headed up one of the hiking trails to Agnes Lake and the Teahouse. It was rated difficult, which it lived up to. Even though it was just 2.5 miles, it raised 1,500 feet in elevation, so it takes a while to get up. The trails were good, but it was pretty steep, so we went with a slow(ish) and steady approach.
After about 40 minutes, we came to an incredible outlook. From there, the water of Lake Louise looked even more vibrant than it did shoreside.
We went another 20 minutes or so before we came to Mirror Lake, where you could see amazing view of the Beehive, a part of the mountains that, go figure, resembled a beehive. We and the pups took a much-earned break before making the rest of the way up the peak.
Even though it was just a half mile, the last 15 minutes to Lake Agnes were brutal. It was really steep and there was little to no shade. Even though we had plenty of water, our legs were getting tired. The pups even stopped pulling. But we did it … we made the 2.5-mile trek up 1,500 feet to Lake Agnes before walking past a waterfall.
The teahouse rests on Lake Agnes and sells a bunch of tea made from the water of Lake Agnes; they also offer snacks. We brought our own and just sat shoreside for quite a while, barely being able to dip our feet in the 40-degree water. We tasted that water, too. Again, wonderfully refreshing and clean.
We took a little different loop on the way back. Even though we were going down, it was even more rocky than the way up, so it was still a challenge for a bit. Archie definitely lost his energy by the end … I had to carry him for some of it before coaxing him to keep going. He was SO done with hiking.
Once we got back down to the lake, we stopped to dip our feet into Lake Louise and give the pups some time to rest. The water was still cold, but not as cold as Lake Agnes. The pups enjoyed some cuddles, both from Swindle and me, and the many people who couldn’t get over me holding Archie and Frankie like babies.
Hot Springs in Banff was a perfect ending to the day
After logging nearly 30,000 steps today, we were pretty wiped out, so we chilled at our campsite for a bit, enjoying rye and ginger ales while we chatted and played Bananagrams. Our feet and bodies were hurting, so we headed to the Hot Springs in Banff around 7:00 p.m., which proved to be a great idea, as there was ample parking and no crowds. After that, we headed back to camp and made dinner on the campfire while we enjoyed a Canadian IPA infused with grapefruit. Think summer shandy, but not as sweet. We both felt more like ourselves at that point. We have another early morning, this time heading to Peyto Lake and Emerald Lake.