Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise (Banff)

Map of Banff NP, including Lake Louise region

Dinner this year &
view we had 20 years ago
Our view this year
We spent our honeymoon hiking in the Canadian Rockies.  We even stayed one night at the luxurious Chateau Lake Louise.  This past summer, 20 years later, we went wheelchair hiking in the Canadian Rockies.  We even had dinner at the Chateau ... before going back to our campsite!

Moraine Lake

In the Lake Louise region of Banff National Park,  Moraine Lake is another lake with brilliantly colored water surrounded by mountains and glaciers. This lake also has a luxury lodge, and one can rent canoes and kayaks for the lake.  There are several hiking trails in the area.

Mountains surrounding Moraine Lake

Lakeshore Path at
Moraine Lake

The only path that is slightly accessible is Lakeshore Path. The surface is hard-packed gravel, but but there are steps after a short while, and they can only be circumvented by a short steep hill. These steps are followed by several bridges that you have to step up then down to get on and off. In addition, there are scattered minefields of roots and rocks in the trail, and the trail (as per usual) slants significantly toward the lake.  With serious help, I was able to maneuver past all of these obstacles and get in a lakeside hike with an outstanding view, but we finally had to turn around at bridge too narrow for the wheelchair. 

Lake Louise is famous for good reason.  It is a brilliantly-colored glacier-fed lake in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, surrounded by mountains and glaciers.  Full of tourist opportunities, there is a stunning luxury chateaux at one end (complete with daily alphorn performances), non-motorized boat rentals on the lake, and hiking trails around and beyond the lake.  The details of this lake are truly best told in pictures (below).

Lakeshore Path at head of lake
Lakeshore Path about 1/2 way down lake
The large visitor parking lot includes disabled parking spots and a disabled washroom, with a good paved path that runs past the chalet (you must only dodge the hundreds of tourists).  Past the chalet to about halfway down lake, the path is still paved, but not in as good condition, and it includes root bumps, bumps and holes (this part would be inappropriate for a power chair, requiring a manual chair with a third wheel).  For the last half of the lake side, the trail surface then turns to hard-packed gravel and dirt to the end of lake, with smatterings of roots and/or rocks.  At the end of the lake, the trail continues into the wilderness, but it is possible only for an all-terrain wheelchair, like my Freedom Chair, and serious assistance (like my husband).

Why Lake Louise is so famous:

Lake Louise from head of lake

Lake Louise at head of lake in afternoon
Lake Louise from head of lake in evening

Lake Louise from midpoint

One more Canadian Rockies blog to go!  Stay tuned for "Beyond "beyond the pavement"" or something like that, dedicated to the trails I did only because of Ted's help and the Freedom Chair.  Soonish ...

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