Day 1: The Lake Louise Teahouse Circuit - 20km with Greg the Dog - Larches, Lakes and Glaciers
I awoke to a sort of cold and gloomy day in Banff, but the forecast was still calling for clear skys. After last weekend in Skoki, I really wanted to return to Lake Louise and see the larch trees in all of their yellow glory. The area surrounding Lake Louise has lots of them and a the Lake Louise Teahouse Circuit is probably the most popular walk in all of Banff National Park for good reason. Incredible turquoise lakes, rugged peaks and some massive glaciers all in one circuit. With the changing of the larch, I wanted a return visit! I picked up Greg the dog and when we arrived shoreline at Lake Louise it was cold and really cloudy. We started the climb up to Lake Agnes and I found myself surrounded by the moist cloud bank for most of the ascent. It was just sitting over Lake Louise and obstructing the views of the lake and Victoria Glacier. I took a detour to the top of Little Beehive at 2253 metres, when all of a sudden, POW!! I popped out of the cloud bank and this is what I saw:
The sun was shining and it was indeed a blue sky day!! It was amazing. We dropped back down to Lake Agnes and it was incredibly calm. The larches had changed colour and it even Greg thought it was cool!
We circumnavigated the lake and climbed up to the Big Beehive, before dipping back into the cloud and climbing up to Plains of Six Glaciers. On the way down, Victoria Glacier was grunting and groaning and burping and farting. It finally let out a huuuuuuge belch and a massive section of ice dropped off and let off a big avalanche slide of snow and ice!! A little drama. Greg didn't like it. He also started slowing down a bit on the return to Lake Louise, but after a pit stop in the woods he was good to go.
On the shoreline of Lake Louise we ran into my friend Allan Lam which was a great surprise, but a bummer because I was just finishing up my run! By the time we returned to the car, the sun was shining on Lake Louise and the cloud had cleared. Greg promptly jumped into the car and fell asleep in minutes. I think he had a good day.
Day 2: Mount Assiniboine Epic - 62km
Mount Shark Trail head to Wonder Pass to Mount Assiniboine Lodge to Citadel Pass to Sunshine Meadows to Bourgeau Parking Lot.
The most amazing thing about doing this epic point to point was just how frequently the scenery changed and just how jaw dropping it all was!! The changing weather just added to the dramatic feel of the day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was fortunate to have the great company of Mike, who was as excited as me when I phoned, last minute and said "Hey, do you want to go for a 62km run??" And thank goodness for Steve and Brenda who gave us a lift at 6AM in the dark to the trail head. I sure appreciate my Banff friends.
Our run started before the sun came up and we were hooting and hollering to avoid any wildlife encounters, oh - all day. The first 12k flew by and before we knew it we were on the shore of Marvel Lake enjoying the first rays of sunshine. It's a big lake and we enjoyed a couple of km's of beautiful shoreline before climbing 550m up to Wonder Pass at 2395m.
We quickly emerged from the treeline and enjoyed the silver wet single track snaking it's way up the pass. It turned into snow shortly below the pass and when we reached the top, the view on the other side was a horizon full of larch trees and snow capped mountains!
It was very cool to descend down from the pass and through the beautiful larch forest. We were keen to reach the shore of Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine Lodge for a little break and water refill at the 27 km mark.
From Lake Magog to Og Lake, the scenery changed drastically. We passed through a flat sub alpine meadow, that was loaded with grizzly bear diggings. It was really different and beautiful with the changing colours on the low lying vegetation. I was lovin' it!
Shortly after Og Lake, you enter Valley of the Rocks where the trail is a roller coaster of fun, as you slalom through a boulder field from an ancient rock slide. Then the valley opens up for some more fantastic views and ever changing scenery, before you take a sharp turn and begin climbing up to Citadel Pass.
It's a big, nasty, steep climb before the views open up above treeline. The last time I came through here, it looked like a back hoe had come through and excavated, but we never saw the creature who had done the damage. I made sure that we were making lots of noise!! Citadel Pass came at about the 46km mark and I was starting to sloooooow down. When we crested the pass, we were blasted with an icy cold Northerly wind and ice pellets were coming from the sky.
When we climbed up from the lake, for our last ascent of the day there was some fresh snow to greet us at the false pass. We could also look back and see the lake and the Citadel off in the distance where we had just come from.
From there, it was a quick journey back across Sunshine Meadows through more incredible larch forest. The scenery, the sky, the larch trees were all amazing. We had travelled through 55km of vast, immense, wild, wilderness and only seen 2 people. We blast out the last 7km on the Sunshine Village Ski Out and found ourselves back at the car around 5:00. Yiiihaw! Nine and a half hours of running and 62km later, I was a very happy girl!! I love the epic long days and especially such a beautiful and scenic point to point. Thanks for a great day, Mike!!
Day 3: Lake Minnewanka Shoreline - 18km
I slept for 12 hours straight and awoke to clear blue sky!! What is a girl to do, but go for a lazy recovery run. And it was sweeeeeet. My legs felt surprisingly good, I relaxed, I drank, I ate, I enjoyed and I soaked up some sun. I even squeezed in a nap on the shoreline in the sunbeam. Drastically different from the day before, yes?!? What a great day. What a great weekend!