Tuesday, July 26, 2005 -- Moraine Lake and Lake Louise

This was the first "real" day of our vacation, the previous day having been taken up entirely by planes, airports, car rentals, traffic jams, and driving.

The short story is, we went to Moraine Lake and then to Lake Louise.  We found way too many people clustered around the main viewing sites and spent most of our time hiking the surrounding trails.  We couldn't hike the trail that was recommended by the desk clerk at the Paradise Lodge and Bungalows, because it was restricted to groups of 6 or more due to bear activity.  But it seemed that pretty much any trail at all was sufficient to get away from the people.

Moraine Lake was very pretty.  There were a lot of people when we arrived and hugely too many when we left.  (The road was filled with cars starting several hundred yards before the parking lot.)  The nice level trail out along the lake was pretty quiet, though.  Moraine Lake is one of the most heavily photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies and there are many wonderful photographs published on the web and available for sale, see for example Google's image search on "Moraine Lake".  For us, it looked as follows. (All images can be blown up by clicking on them.)

On top of the "Rock Pile"...

At the other end of the lake, where the creek enters...

There was a very nice plaque at Moraine Lake that illustrated how high the glaciers had been when they shaped the landscape.

Lake Louise, at the main viewpoint close to the Chateau Lake Louise, looked like this (and I strongly recommend blowing this one up to full size).  The trail below right of image center leads to the Plain of Six Glaciers, which we hiked later in the trip.

While hiking, we didn't see as many flowers as we expected to, and hardly any butterflies.  But the flowers that we did see were very nice...

This little moss-like flower was growing on a vertical surface.  (The inset photo is a blowup of two blossoms at lower center.)

This Penstemon (the purple flower) and the yellow Composite were in a rockslide above Lake Louise.

These were beside the road on the way to Moraine Lake.

These were on the road to Moraine Lake too.

Here's a delightful little fungus that Kyle called my attention to, on the hillside above Lake Louise.

Here is a little hillside beside the road, about 1 km away from Lake Louise, near where we had to park because the official lots were all full.

And this huge larkspur was growing beside the trail between Lake Louis and the place we parked.

We ended this day by going to dinner at "Bill Peyto's" place in the International Hostel.  It was very good, and we ended up going back there several times.  The Pepper Steak Stir Fry was especially tasty.