Bucket List Check #19 - Hiking To Lake Agnes Tea House in Lake Louise, Canada
I have been following this amazing photographer, Paul Zizka, who lives in Banff, Canada and his photographs are incredible. So after seeing several of his images on social media, I made a mental note to add Banff, Canada to my bucket list. In 2015, this dream became a reality, one that I will share over the course of several blog posts, because it is just that amazing. In fact, I think Banff could possibly be one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, in terms of raw untouched, natural beauty.
We made our way from Banff one day over to Lake Louise, which is about 45 minutes away by car. Lake Louise is probably one of the more touristy places around Banff, and it is easy to see why. The color of the lake is an incredible deep turquoise color, caused by the natural silt in the lake and the run off from the snow and glaciers.
Yes, the water really is that color!
I had read that you could hike from Lake Louise up to a tea house that sits by Lake Agnes, at the top of the mountain. The hike sounded difficult - 2.2 miles and basically completely uphill, with an elevation of approximately 1300 feet. I thought a nice little tea house at the top that serves tea and sandwiches will be a perfect reward for a challenging hike, particularly since I had my husband, Mike, and 7 year old son, Jake, in tow.
My son, Jake, looking out over Lake Louise.
About 200 feet into the hike, the whining started from Jake. I was carrying all of my camera gear - tripod, bag, lenses, in addition to jackets for me and Jake and water bottles. Plus I was holding Jake's hand, practically dragging him uphill.
Needless to say, it took us almost 4 hours to get to the top. Some of this was due to the crowds - since we went in early June - but mostly it was due to the amount of weight I was carrying / dragging... (at least, that's what I told myself as I was getting passed by a visibly pregnant woman.)
Me, taking a break and admiring the view of Lake Louise.
I'm not going to lie to you...hiking uphill for 2.2 miles was not easy, particularly for a Texan who is used to breathing at sea level. Fortunately, there were lots of little stops along the way, including this beautiful stop at Mirror Lake.
The trail is well marked, but also not smooth. I was wearing hiking shoes, but I was getting passed by hikers wearing flip flops, so perhaps I'm not the best judge. But I did notice lots of tree roots and rocks all along the trail, particularly as you get higher up in elevation.
But all of these challenges made this hike so worthwhile, because as you pass people on the way down, they often would encourage us saying "you're almost there!"...and you'll find yourself starting to pick up your step, knowing there's tea and sandwiches at the top waiting for you!
The tea house is actually a log cabin and it doesn't fit a lot of people. But there is some seating and waiting areas outside of the cabin. Given the crowds, we had to wait a good hour to get in and finally get something to eat. I think I had a peanut butter sandwich and some hot cocoa.
The interesting thing, was that we kept seeing the serving people come out of hte cabin, gathering water from the lake, which they would boil and use to serve tea. With glacial water running into the lake, the water was remarkably clear. Also, we noticed that they bring up supplies for the tea house by horseback.
After getting rejuvinated with cocoa and sandwiches, we embarked on the descent, which took a fraction of the time. We were down back to Lake Louise within 45 minutes!
Is hiking up to Lake Agnes Tea House next on your bucket list?