First day at Lake Louise, we woke up slightly later as we enjoyed a really good night’s sleep in the nice comfy beds of the suite! However, I was able to wake up early just to take a good shot of the sunrise in Lake Louise! The only drawback of arriving at Lake Louise in end of May (27th May) was that the Lake is still frozen. The good part would perhaps be that the mountains that seems to be hugging the lake are still covered in snow, making it a very beautiful sight nonetheless! Lake Louise’s allure could be pointed out to the fact that the lake still remains as beautiful and breathtaking in all 4 seasons and in winter, the whole lake is covered in a sheet of snow and people could even ice-skate on a predefined ring close to the hotel!
As we woke up late, we had milk and fruits for a snack before heading to Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, each over 3,000 m high. The area is also known as Wenkchemna, the stoney language for the word ‘ten’. While Lake Louise is world famous, its neighbour, Moraine Lake is equally famous as it is the lake depicted in the back of the old Canadian $20 bill. The Lake is as magnificent as Lake Louise and we were lucky to be able to visit it, as the only access road for vehicles was open only a week before we arrived. As the elevation of Moraine Lake is higher than Lake Louise, the lake is still frozen and covered in ice. Even the Moraine Lake Lodge on its shore hasn’t opened for business, with just the cafetaria selling Mars bars and coffee or tea. As it was really cold outside, we had a cup of coffee with the intention of it just to warm our hands!
After that it was straight to the Mountain Restaurant at Lake Louise Village for brunch. This restaurant was unique in that it served some Asian cuisine. Dad and I had steak sandwich which was composed of a 6oz flat iron steak on garlic toast served with peppercorn sauce and onion rings. This was perhaps one of the best food to go for in Lake Louise. My brother had the Fish & Chips (safe choice) while the two ladies went for Caesar Salad and Korean Kimchi Noodle Soup. We ended brunch at around 12.45 pm and from there it took us around 15 minutes to reach the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint. Lucky for us, we were in time to catch the action of the train passing by this amazing feat of engineering. The spiral tunnels were so called due to the need to lower the gradation of the railway track, resulting in a spiral track inside the mountain. From the viewpoint, it was easy to see the cargo train entering the bottom tunnel and re-appearing at the top of the tunnel. Even as the train appeared on top of the tunnel, the tail end of the train was still entering the bottom tunnel. This can be seen clearly in the photos below. Even if you do not catch the sight of the train passing the tunnels, there is always the model showing the position of the tunnels and a historic overview of the Kicking Horse Pass.
From the Spiral Tunnels Viewpoint, we drove towards the Town of Field which housed a good visitor centre for attractions in the Yoho National Park. The main river trasversing the national park is the Kicking Horse River, which is well known for white water rafting and was explored by scouts searching for a suitable pass for the construction of Canada Pacific transcontinental railway. Yoho National Park is also one of the two mountain parks which is located in British Columbia rather than Alberta. The town of Field is a good place for stopovers and we did stopover for a break before heading towards Emerald Lake.
On the way to Emerald Lake, we stopped by this place called Natural Bridge. As the name implies, it is actually a waterfall with a natural stone bridge created across a waterfall along the Kicking Horse River. Natural landscapes like these makes us wonder at the power and beauty of nature.
The natural bridge is a nice small waterfall and offers some very serene environment while listening to the rush of the Kicking Horse River. It wasn’t one of the destinations I had initially planned for, but I was glad we made a stop here! From here, there is a further 10km before reaching Emerald Lake proper. Emerald Lake is so named because of the deep greenish blue colour of the lake which truly resembles that of an emerald. Emerald Lake can be considered one of the jewels of Yoho, if not the Canadian Rockies. There is also a lodge named after the lake on site which rents out boats and canoes. It must have been great to canoe here when the weather is warmer.
Another reason to spend some time around the lake is for the hike which will allow one to walk the 5.2 km trail around the lake. In addition, this place is also a good place to those keen on bird-watching as I got to see 2 very beautiful birds local to the Canadian Rockies!
Since none of us were keen to boat in the lake, we just took a leisurely stroll to explore the lake and soak in the beauty of the environment. From Emerald Lake, we had planned to visit Wapta Falls at the east end of the Yoho National Park, but on reaching the car park, we discovered that there was still a 2.4 km one way trail before it leads into the falls. Since Dad and Mum was quite tired, we decided to head back to Takakkaw Falls which we missed while we headed to the Town of Field. But as we reached there, we found that the access road towards the Falls was still closed, due to snow and wet road conditions. This meant that there wasn’t much else to see in Yoho and marked the end of our trip for the day before returning to Lake Louise. Takakkaw Falls would be the place I would want to re-visit the next time I come by the Canadian Rockies. The falls is one of the highest in Canada and visitors can actually walk to the base of the falls. The naming of the falls is from the Cree language which equates to the word ‘magnificent’. Just by that, I do think it’s worth a look!
In the evening, back at Lake Louise, we headed down for a walk along the shores of Lake Louise as we planned to have dinner at the Chateau again. Though this time, we picked on one of their better dining choices at Tom Wilson’s Steakhouse. Tom Wilson is actually the first westerner who laid his eyes on Lake Louise after being directed there by a local native. And the naming of the Lake was after the daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise. Anyway, at the steakhouse, they had a special appetizer where several bite sized portions of food was laid out at the table. The appetizers were not to my taste as I found them to be too strong in spices and have a flavour too much like Indian food. Their steaks on the other hand were good! Dad had an extremely nice Bison Tenderloin, while I had the AAA Alberta Beef NY Strip Loin (my favourite cut for steaks). My brother didn’t really had such a nice choice of Milk-fed Veal Chop though as it was too dry and felt more like white meat rather than red meat. My sister had AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin while Mum enjoyed the Grilles Seafood Briochette. For the sides we had sweet potato fries which we could order again and again. Which we did since it was a really great change instead of just potatoes as fries. Now I wonder if I can get used to having french fries on the sides ever again…