Our last day in this magical wonderland was booked for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. The weatherman was not encouraging, as cloudy skies, cold and rain were forecast for the entire day. We bundled up and headed out, determined to enjoy the experience regardless.
Lake Louise is probably the most visited area across this entire region. In order to accommodate the large volume of vehicles in a small area, we arrived early for the shuttle and heard that there had been several cancellations. We were NOT going to be one of them!
The shuttle took us first to Moraine Lake. What an amazing gem that doesn’t get the recognition due to its proximity to Lake Louise.
We hiked up “The Rockpile” which, according to the Fitbit, was 34 flights of stone steps and rock paths.
The view from that elevation was breathtaking, even as the Tower of Babel towered over us.
As you can see, the weatherman’s dire forecast of rain and overcast skies had not come to fruition – at least not yet.
Back down at lake level, people were beginning to venture out onto the lake in canoes. And wildlife shared the space with so many people with apparently no fear.
A quick connector bus whisked us the 8 miles to Lake Louise. Bill and I have so many memories of his mom, Sylvia, talking about how wonderful her trip here in her younger years before marriage & family (probably in the late 1930’s!).
In 1882, Tom Wilson heard the rumble of avalanches. His Stoney guide, William Hunter, led him to the “snow mountains of the little fishes” according to his journal. As the first European to see Lake Louise, he named it for Queen Victoria’s daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta.
The lake was known to the Stoney People as Ho-run-num-nay, which means “Lake of the Little Fishes.” At only 400F, the water is so cold that fish that live here don’t grow very large. Lake Louise and its creek are home to cutthroat trout, bull trout and mountain trout. Rainbow trout and brook trout were introduced and stocked until the 1970’s.
Like Banff Hot Springs and Jasper Lake Lodge, the Chateau Lake Louise was built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to attract wealthy clientele. The transcontinental railway was completed in 1885, and by 1890, the first chalet at Lake Louise was providing “rustic accommodations” for a handful of guests.
By the early 1900’s, the modest chalet had become the chateau with Rattenbury Wing (wooden) and Painter Wing (concrete). On July 3, 1924, first destroyed the entire Rattenbury wing. No injuries were incurred and none of the guests’ luggage was damaged – and by 6:00p that evening, dinner was served, with orchestra, as usual to 126 guests!
We hopped aboard the shuttle back to the car and returned to Bow River Campground for our final evening and preparations for our departure in the morning. And, as to that weatherman and his dire forecast, we did finally have some rain on the way back!
With wonderful memories and promises to reconnect somewhere soon, Jan pointed her car home to Edmonton while Contessa and the Toad headed back toward the US border. Our plan was to stop south of Milk River, putting us just 10 miles north of the border for what we hoped would be a quick and easy crossing the next morning. Gold Springs Campground is certainly a favorite for people of Alberta – the reviews were delightful. However, what we have learned in our time in Alberta, the vast majority of “campers” are substantially smaller than Contessa! And, their comments about a slightly rough road translated to 3+ miles of a washboard and piles of loose gravel. An oasis in the middle of the prairie on the shore of the Milk River, there was not a single site that Contessa could fit in. So, back the 3 miles of washboard and off to the border crossing we went. It was amazing – just one car in front of us. They were quickly processed and then it was our turn. The Customs and Immigration Officer was delightful! With all our paperwork in order, we shared some laughter (about the cost of fuel in Canada) and we were on our way! Fifteen miles down the road was Lewis & Clark Campground in Shelby, MT. As with all our experiences, Montanans are cheerful and so helpful. We were quickly in a very level, pull-thru site – and had a great night’s when we didn’t have to face the anxiety of the border crossing and any potential boarding of Contessa.