Thursday, August 14, 2008

Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Louise at Banff, Canada

The Plain of Six Glaciers hike starts at the Lake Louise lodge and follows the lake to the end. This part of the trail is hard packed, level, and popular. At the end of the lake the trail starts the climb up through a series of switchbacks to reach the teahouse. The trail at times contains a lot of loose rock and has jagged rock to step over and around, so definitely wear sturdy shoes. The entire hike is mostly in the open, and has amazing views of glaciers along the way - we even heard and saw glacier ice/snow breaking free many times while on the hike. The teahouse is a preserved hiking chalet and is now used to reward hikers on making that far with a good assortment of teas and many good treats, like their homemade chocolate cake, scones and apple pie, to mention a few. The teahouse is open to views, so it’s a wonderful experience to have a nice cup of tea while having these amazing views.

If you have the energy, then definitely continue to the Plain of Six Glacier Overlook. This is a continuation of the main trail that take you about mile closer to the glaciers, plus gets you full view of more glaciers and the Abbott Hut perched on top ( not viewable from the teahouse). The trail is completely open, and most the time you are hiking up and across huge piles of loose rocks deposited decades ago. At this end of this trail you are at the end of the canyon and have great views of the entire Lake Louis valley (down onto the lake) as well as the mountains behind the lodge area that you can’t see from the lodge. From this perspective you also can see the that loose rock that covers the valley floor is actually rock and dirt covering a glacier.

Tips: the teahouse only takes cash, go early and be on the trail by 9-10 to beat the heat and crowds. Wear sturdy shoes for there is a lot of loose and big rocks on the trail.

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