I knew the morning of going to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake that I would be witnessing something amazing, but my thoughts could have never come close to what I felt the moment I first approached Moraine Lake. It was absolutely remarkable.
We took the scenic route on the way (which takes a bit longer but you have an opportunity to see wildlife and travel the windy roads through the mountains). Taking this route was equally scary as it was beautiful. The chance of elk, deer or even bears coming out onto the road is super high and that, personally, leaves me feeling pretty anxious. We didn't see any animals this time around though. My favourite mountain on the way was Castle Mountain.
Once we got to Moraine Lake we realized it was a lot colder up in the mountains than we had been prepared for (Rockie rookies). What I now know is that September 1st is a hard end to summer out here. There is no linger in heat! The cold weather comes and you might get a chance of a high of 16-18 degrees C for maybe an hour or so if you are down in the valleys. Half my packed luggage hasn't even been touched since I had the silly idea that we may still use shorts and tank tops. Oops!
Now lets get to Moraine Lake.
I had never even heard of this lake before the day I went to see it. Brittany had told me that she preferred this lake to the very popular Lake Louise and she was so right. Moraine Lake is a part of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and is completely surrounded by mountains. There is a restaurant and a gift shop off to the side, but other than that it is just there in nature, as is. Undisturbed by people. Unfortunately, in contrast, as beautiful as the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is, it personally takes away the appeal of the gorgeous lake. There is something about Moraine Lake that makes me feel something so special because even if there had never been a single human on this planet, the lake would still be there, looking the exact same. Lake Louise on the other hand, along with the hotel has a board walk all around it, and looses its nature appeal for me. Maybe it has something to do with coming from a tourist town myself, but I appreciate when nature is left untouched.
Do not get me wrong. These lakes are something straight out of a fairy tale. It's as though Lake Louise is filled with Hpnotiq and Moraine Lake is filled with blue gatorade. The colours are glowing and opaque from a far and clear when up close. There is often a light rain or mist in the mountains and that only adds to the beauty as it makes the lakes look as though they are sparkling!
Brittany knows me all too well, as many readers do. Knowing that my reaction to Moraine Lake would be dramatic and exaggerated, she filmed me. We had climbed high up the rocks and as we were coming over them, there it was. Completely out of my control my eyes filled with tears. I grabbed Zinnia and carried her over toward the lake. Whenever I have big and beautiful moments like these I always have an urge to hug someone close. Who better than my beautiful baby girl, who has travelled thousands of miles with me to see some of Canada's most beautiful sights. Appreciating the moment I looked around in complete awe. If I wasn't standing there in the flesh, I would not have believed what I was seeing. The sights were so vibrant, I just had no idea colours like this were even possible.
We picked up a few souvenirs and post cards and sent them out to Shane and Zinnia's best friend Solomon to show them our favourite place out west. We also managed to facetime some family from Lake Louise so we could share in its beauty.
We went for lunch in the mountains in the tiny town of Lake Louise and it was delicious. The sign inside had a great quote that I loved: the mountains are my bones, the rivers are my veins, the forest my thoughts and the stars are my dreams.
After lunch was when we went to see Lake Louise. By this point the kids started to get tired and I think the mommas did too. We still managed to walk around the lake and take some great shots. This lake shines turquoise and is just unbelievable in colour. If you hike up the valley in the back of the lake you can go see a Tea house or the glacier fields. We didn't get to this as it wasn't exactly possible with all the littles, but no regrets. I had enough gratitude and appreciation for the things I had seen already today.
On the ride home from the lakes we took the highway and this was just as gorgeous. We saw the valleys, the rivers and of course the mountains. The rivers in the Canadian Rockies are all turquoise. Every once in a while you catch a glowing stream and it's just amazing. The difference between taking the backroads and the highway is the chance at seeing wildlife. You get a better view of the mountains from the highway because the trees immediately close to you don't obstruct your views but both are great. I couldn't be happier that we decided to take both routes.
Some things that I have learned:
- The colours of Lake Louise and Moraine are so blue because they are continuously glacier fed. When the glaciers rub together they create micro-sized glacier rock particles called rock flour that flows into the lakes. The refraction of light off the rock flour creates the iridescent colours. That means that depending on how high up you are and where you look at the lake the colours can change. How cool is that?! (I like to ask a lot of questions.)
- Controlled burns a.k.a. prescribed burns are when Parks Canada burns down a section of the forest to restore healthy forests and grasslands. Trees like the skinny pines throughout the rockies will only release seeds upon a burn. The burn opens the pinecones and releases the seeds so new healthy trees can grow. We passed a few of these on the back roads when travelling to the lakes.
- Parks Canada conducts controlled avalanches in order to prevent them from happening on their own. They will drop bombs or dynamite from a helicopter in specific places and you can, if you are far enough, watch them happen as they will notify locals when they will be taking place.
Later that night we relaxed at the pool and it was a perfect way to wind down from a very busy day. A good swim before bed always helps get the kiddos to sleep.
The next day we woke up and walked from end to end in Banff. We explored the Bow falls in the Bow River and did some light souvenir shopping. Banff is an absolutely gorgeous town and it now makes perfect sense to me why my long lost sister no longer lives with us in Toronto. If you love nature, mountains and exploring, Banff is the perfect spot. Small town feel with all the options for big adventure. I will definitely be back to show Shane the beauty.
Tomorrow we are waking up and heading to beautiful British Columbia! I have always wanted to go to BC so I have been anxiously awaiting this part of the trip. We are planning on doing The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke, going to Emerald Lake in Field and the Hot Springs in Radium Hot Springs. Should be a lot to talk about.