A Change of Plans in Lake Louise
After leaving Jasper via the Icefields Parkway, our first stop in Banff National Park was the small settlement of Lake Louise, most famous for its ski area and storied Fairmont hotel. The hotel sits directly on the glacial lake, but the shore area and trails behind the hotel are open to the public. We headed to the lake the evening we arrived in an attempt to avoid tour bus crowds, and we were rewarded with a parking space close to the water. The lake was pretty, but the light wasn’t quite right, and the scene didn’t measure up to either of our expectations nor to other lakes we encountered. Moraine Lake in Jasper and Maligne Lake, just a few miles away from Lake Louise at the end of a windy mountain road, were arguably more picturesque…at least on the days we visited them.
We spent the night at the HI hostel in Lake Louise, conveniently located near the center of town. Actually, town is an overstatement. It’s more like a small tourist village within the national park, with one main intersection, a gas station, a few inns, several overpriced restaurants, and a gazillion tour buses. In short, nowhere we wanted to be. We went to bed early, much to the chagrin of the 20-something German guys with whom we shared our 4-person bunkroom.
In the morning, we set out on our weekly long run. Our original plan had us heading to Banff to run on the Banff Legacy Trail. However, due to catastrophic flooding in Alberta the week before we arrived, we had to change plans. [Part of the Legacy Trail (which runs parallel to the Trans-Canadian Highway) was completely washed out by surging water and mud.] So how does one find 17 miles of road in a small mountain village? By looping the campground, of course!
The longest stretch of safe, uninterrupted road we could find was the road that traveled through the park campground. As an added bonus, the campground was protected from grizzly bears by an electric fence. (Most of Lake Louise is protected grizzly habitat, and June is still part of cub season when mama bears are at their fiercest.) So we looped and looped and looped a one-mile section of the campground’s perimeter road until we grabbed enough mileage to satisfy our training plans. I’m fairly certain some of the campers thought we were crazy, but I was thrilled not to be dodging buses on a narrow road or dodging grizzlies on one of the town’s trails. After notching 17 interesting miles, we headed back to the hostel to shower and picked up some tasty breakfast wraps before making the short drive south to the town of Banff. Cold beers and hot springs were waiting for us! -J.