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Lake Louise, Banff National Park

2010 September 15

Lake Louise River

I had been hearing quite a bit about Lake Louise, so although I was sad to leave my beloved Banff, I was excited to head that direction. It wasn’t too terribly far from the town of Banff, and frankly, from proximity alone I thought it must be amazing.

I was able to get a camp spot without any trouble. I wondered if I had been placed on the “American Loop” because I saw more US plates than I had seen in one place since I entered Canada. Either that, or we all converged on the Lake Louise campground the same day.

I find it interesting how we tend to create superstitions when we do things on a regular basis. Superstitions for sports, activities, and for day to day habits…. I had already developed the belief that if I couldn’t easily get my camper level, that it meant I was only supposed to stay for one night. If I leveled out easily and quickly, then I was meant to stay for longer than just one night. But then, maybe it is just that it is not as comfortable to stay when you are not quite level and it is a nice excuse to not have to move for a day if you are. Regardless, I couldn’t get quite level in my camp spot at the Lake Louise campground, but figured it was good enough for only one night, and I swore I would pick up some boards for under my tires soon.

The Canadian Parks system had interpretive theater in their park campgrounds. Most of them did a nightly show. For one reason or another, I had not made it to any of them although I was curious. I decided I would try to make the one in Lake Louise. The poster boasted a title of “Dream Big” and I thought that sounded interesting and inspiring so I put my dog on a leash and started that direction.

Lake Louise - Dream Big Theatre
Well, when I came to the tent section at Lake Louise, it was surrounded by an electric fence and had a cattle guard across the road to keep the bears out. Wow. I had never seen such a thing, and wondered if it was even safe to be out walking. The sign said there was a side gate for pedestrians, but I didn’t see one. So, I let my dog off his leash to see if he could get across. He has successfully traversed similar structures, but now he wanted to go around and under the electric fence. And after a couple pathetic attempts to find the pedestrian gate or figure out a way across into the tent area, we gave up. We gave up on our big dream to attend “Dream Big” and I would be lying if I didn’t feel a little disappointed and defeated. (even if only in my own lameness, I fancy myself a figure-it-outer most of the time, after all.)

Lake Louise - Bear Fence

So, we walked the long walk back to the camper, and by now the interpretive theater was probably half over, so I decided to get in the car and take a drive up to the lake. The little commercial area of Lake Louise is minimal. Basically the sum of two strip malls, bordering two sides of a parking lot, provided all the various shops to meet tourist needs; a deli, bakery, restaurant, candy shop, grocery store, post office, etc. .

I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. But, we drove up the road to the lake and found a place to park in the expansive parking lot. When I got to the lake, it was beautiful. It really was. But, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. Is this all? This is what I have been hearing about? I mean, it is beautiful, but… maybe I am missing something?

Lake Louise View

But, then I thought maybe it was a destination/experiential thing. People were whisked off to the Lake Louise Lodge, which was massive and looked very fancy. And right out their window, if they paid the premium for a lake view room I am sure, they could look over Lake Louise. They could view this amazing scene of nature in the privacy of their own hotel room. They could eat a fancy dinner while immersed in the glory of nature. They could sit in their temperature controlled, bug free room and look out upon this beautiful lake. They could even watch the sun set in their underwear… if they really wanted to.

Lake Louise Mountains

For the more adventurous, they could walk along the lake or even rent boats to paddle out onto the water. But, maybe it was the merge of nature and extravagance that created this lure to Lake Louise that I kept hearing about but seemed to be missing. Maybe that is why the campgrounds were not as full as they were at Banff, even though there were a good number of people strolling around the lake. I am not really sure, and I felt as though maybe Lake Louise didn’t get a fair chance since my expectations were possibly built up a little too much both from what I had heard about it and because of my affinity for Banff. It tends to be easier to appreciate something when you expect less or don’t know what to expect at all. But, when you are expecting your socks to be knocked off, and all they have done is droop around your ankles, well… it is hard to get too excited.

Lake Louise with Boats

But then, maybe part of the beauty of this time at Lake Louise is realizing that we all find beauty in different places, and we can all have different favorite places. We are diverse people, and even lovers of nature and magnificent beauty can decide which backdrop of magnificent beauty is their favorite for their own experiences. And to be fair, I did look at the tourism information for Lake Louise which boasts being the hiking capital of Canada with opportunities to see glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife. It also boasts being one of North America’s finest downhill ski areas. So, maybe I didn’t give it a fair shake after all since I was only able to spend a very limited time there and was not able to explore much.

It really was beautiful; the lake, the area… don’t get me wrong. And if the opportunity ever presents itself to be whisked away to Lake Louise, I would be more than willing to explore the juxtaposition of extravagance and nature, as well as spend a significant time hiking. Until next time, Lake Louise…

Lake Louise Flowers

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