we walked along the river for a bit, enjoying the scenery and watching the racers. by the time we headed back into town, we stopped into a few shops. i've been wanting a pair of lululemon crop spandex for about a year, but can't quite justify the price. lululemon was started in vancouver, so apparently the closer you get to BC the more lulu you see. i couldn't get over how many people were wearing lulu (my travel companion included). that is some expensive clothing. the store was great- the first one i've been to- and i tried on the leggings i've been wanting. they fit wonderfully but i still couldn't bring myself to shell out the $.
we grabbed lattes and a cookie to share and enjoyed them on a bench in the sun before heading back to our hostel. we packed up the car and headed further west! the views only got more spectacular as we headed back up highway 1. soon we arrived in lake louise, which is much less town and more mountain. the "town" consisted of a small plaza containing a few shops and markets, and a few lodges. we drove straight up into the mountains to lake louise. as i had been warned, the hub was stunning but packed with tourists. the grand fairmont hotel sits royally at the end of the lake, and the view out is spectacular. one of the most beautiful views i've ever seen. the lake is an aquamarine color due to minerals, and the vast mountains and glaciers grow up out of nowhere. we took photos and walked around, and then grabbed our hiking stuff and headed up to lake agnes teahouse. it was a relatively short hike, and the trail was a wide "hiking highway" full of other visitors hiking up and down. crowded as it was, it was very pleasant. the teahouse was a small cabin next to a small lake. the food is helicoptered in at the beginning of the season- 10,000 pounds of it! and then throughout the summer, the staff hikes out trash and brings in the bit of fresh food used. they served tea, lemonade, house-made bread for sandwiches, and a few sweet treats. we were too hot to enjoy tea, so we had lemonade and shared a sandwich. we relaxed there for a bit before heading back down.
after finding our hotel, i suggested we buy a picnic and take it up to moraine lake. moraine is a much smaller lake, with another great view. we enjoyed bread from the local bakery, two cheeses, apples, dried figs, and a bottle of red wine. it was so peaceful and quiet there, with just a few other tourists wandering around. after, we returned to the hotel to enjoy the hot tubs & steam room. what a day!
sunday, we woke to a brisk fall morning. we packed up and bundled up, and headed back up to lake louise. it was much quieter first thing in the morning. we had seen a sign for a free yoga class being offered, so we connected with that group and had a one hour yoga practice on a grassy knoll right next to the lake. we were a little late finding the group, so we ended up being in the front of the group. i normally don’t want to be in the front, but with a view like this, i could pretend there wasn’t anyone else there with me! the teacher was calming and was great at connecting our practice with the nature surrounding us. i could not imagine a better way to start a day.
after, we went into the fairmont to find some coffee and a pastry. we enjoyed those next to the lake as we watched tourists arrive and take endless photos, and then started our hike to the plain of six glaciers teahouse. this was a longer hike than the day before, and rather than being in the woods for most of it, we were out in the open expanse of the valley and the far end of the lake. it was a beautiful hike, and there were fewer people on the trail. we arrived at the teahouse committed to drinking tea, even though again we were awfully warm. once we settled in, enjoying the view and sipping tea, it was perfect. we walked back down quickly- and saw a small avalanche up on the glacier. fortunately we were very very far from its path!
we hiked back down, and started our drive back to calgary. we stopped to explore the small town of canmore- more “local” and artsy than banff. Then continued back to calgary. we enjoyed a good dinner. yesterday was a busy day of business! we were meeting with a team of employees who work across the four western provinces of canada to implement a grant team out here. it was a productive and fun day, and we wrapped up the day with a nice dinner together. everyone was so friendly, and it's so interesting to meet people who are so far away and work for the same company.
in a bit, i’m headed to the airport to return to montreal. we have meetings in montreal tomorrow morning, and then i’m finally homeward bound! it’s been an awesome trip. my 48 hours in banff felt like a real vacation, and i loved all of the exploring and scenery. i'll share some photos soon (trust me, i took plenty).