This was our longest travel day, a journey taking us from the U.S. back into Canada to visit Banff National Park. I’m not a fan of long bus rides, but the scenery was stunning. Entering Canada required stopping at their border patrol station to have our passports processed. Although Canada had dropped its mandatory Covid testing for everybody entering their country, a random testing policy was implemented, resulting in one of every 8 travelers being required to take a self-administered Covid test and send it via FedEx to the processing center.
Before crossing the border, we stopped for a restroom break at a duty-free store with this banner greeting us at the door:
At the station, three members of our group were selected; however, it was a Saturday. They had 72 hours to self-administer and FedEx the tests back, so our guide figured he would hold off sending them in until we got to Jasper, on Monday. Since the backlog for processing tests had reached 4-7 days, (and it had taken almost a week for others in our group to get their results back after entering Calgary at the beginning of the tour), I shook my head as I did the math. It was August 27th, and our trip was scheduled to conclude on September 1. The tests weren’t going to be turned in until August 29, and they would take one business day to arrive at their destination. The guys would be home in the U.S.A. before receiving their test results! What the…? If they had tested positive, they would have already spread Covid to a bunch of people! What’s the point? We all had a good laugh about that, but what a waste of resources!
Onward we traveled along Canada’s western edge of the Canadian Rockies, entering Banff National Park. Along the way, we noticed that all of the road signs in the park were in English and French, a federal law.
The original itinerary stated that we would check into our hotel late in the afternoon, and then go for a walk at Lake Louise; however, our guide, Scott, and driver, David, had another idea in mind. Since we were going to see Lake Louise the following morning anyway, how about trying our luck at getting into the parking lot at Moraine Lake before continuing on to the hotel? Scott explained that the car parking lot would already be full, but since we were in a bus, we would possibly have a shot at getting into the bus parking lot. Besides, Lake Louise, originally named the “Emerald Lake” was green, and seeing Moraine Lake would give us an opportunity to see an azure blue lake. Were we game? We voted unanimously in favor.
The day had been gloomy, and when we arrived, we couldn’t even see the ten mountain peaks surrounding the lake, due to the cloud cover. We made it into the lot, though, so at least we could see some bright blue water. Good enough for me; blue is my favorite color!
To get the best view of the lake, Scott suggested climbing the 79 feet up the “Rock Pile,” a popular hiking trail leading to one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada. I bolted up ahead of everybody in the group, so I would have the most time to spend up at the top. I anticipated the clouds hiding all ten peaks in the distance, but seeing the lake was better than nothing. Surely, it would be beautiful and photogenic, regardless.
Just as we made it the top, the sun broke through for a spectacular view! A few of the ten peaks appeared just in time for our arrival, and the brilliant blue water of the glacially fed lake shined.
(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)
Until I saw the lake with my own eyes, I thought the pictures I had seen of the lake were Photoshop-ped to-the-max. No way could that water be such a bright shade of blue! I was wrong; it really is that blue!
Rock flour is what causes Moraine Lake’s water to be so blue, and Lake Louise to be that pretty shade of emerald green. Also known as “glacial flour,” it consists of fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock caused by glacial erosion. The super-fine consistency becomes suspended in the melted snow and ice, causing the water run-off to appear cloudy.
We were all in awe and snapped a bunch of pictures, along with the other tourists. This was definitely the highlight place for a photo with Bruce; I always make sure to get one from each trip.
The nine-mile bus ride to Lake Louise Village, was buzzing with chatter about what we had just seen. We all agreed the climb up the Rock Pile was well worth it!
Back down at 5,200 feet, we arrived at the village of Lake Louise, Canada’s highest community. After checking into our room at Lake Louise Inn, I braved the cold air and biting wind for a look around the village and a walk along the river, while Bruce rested. Beautiful!
Next up: Lake Louise & Columbia Icefield