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Page history last edited by Phil Baraona 12 years, 8 months ago

Friday, August 12


Today is my last day of hiking in the Canadian Rockies and it started with a bit of a surprise at breakfast. My tent mate Yogi and two other people decided to leave early (right after breakfast). I guess Yogi has had enough and wanted to get home. Wouldn’t have been my decision (I’d love to stay longer!) but it seems like that was what was right for him.


For my last day of hiking, I decided to join Deb and Michele for the trip to Lake Louise. This is the classic area that everyone visits when they come to the Canadian Rockies. It seems like it would be a shame to miss it. There is a large (23 person) group of hikers with a wide range of abilities and interests on this hike so it actually turned into three different trips. Six people did a C hike / walk around the Lake, seven did a B hike up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse and ten (including me) did a short A hike (9 miles/1900 feet) to both of the teahouses in the Lake Louise area.


Based largely on my suggestion, we decided to hike out to the Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse as the first part of the hike. This gives us the option of doing some side trips around the Lake Agnes Teahouse if there is time later in the afternoon. Lake Louise is beautiful – perhaps even prettier than any other lake I’ve seen this week.


Unfortunately, all the Lake Louise tourists somewhat diminished the experience, at least for me. This is especially true for the area right around the lake. It’s mostly paved and easily accessible for guests at the large hotel (the Fairmount Chateau) at one end of the lake. I would imagine a five minute stroll around a beautiful lake constitutes a real “back to nature” experience for many of the people who stay in this hotel. I guess that’s good since anything that gets people outdoors is worthwhile, but it sure does make the lake (over)crowded! Even once you got up away from the lake a little bit, this was still my most crowded hike of the week. I don’t think we walked for more than 5 minutes the entire day without running into another group of hikers. By contrast, we saw just 5 or 6 other groups of hikers during the entire loop around the Iceline Trail yesterday. Oh well.


Despite all the people, this hike was still really nice. As you would expect, the scenery around the Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse was spectacular. We even saw/heard a couple of small avalanches off in the distance while we were up there. The teahouse itself was nice enough. It had some expensive tea and baked goods, but this came in handy for me. For some reason, I didn’t eat a very big breakfast today and was kind of dragging on the fairly easy (at least relative to other hikes this week) hike up to this teahouse. Thus, I ate my entire lunch very early in the day.


After the teahouse, we doubled back a short distance along the trail we had come up and then turned off onto a steep uphill trail to Big Beehive. Once again, there were spectacular views and more people than I’ve seen on any other hike this week. We did a short little out and back to the Big Beehive summit and then headed down the other side towards Lake Agnes. This was very picturesque. And very crowded (see the pattern?) due to our second teahouse of the day. I had actually left the top of Big Beehive before the rest of the group so I was the first to arrive at Lake Agnes Teahouse. This turned out to be a good thing since I was able to snag a table for the rest of the group. I had a cookie and some tea which tided me over nicely until dinner.


The trip back down from Lake Agnes took us past a waterfall and Mirror Lake before a (mostly) boring trail that descended down to Lake Louise. In spite of the crowds, this was still a nice hike in one of those “check the box” type of ways. It seems like something that had to be done. Once everyone returned to the bottom, we took a quick walk through the (IMO) not so spectacular Fairmount Chateau and hopped back in the van to head back towards camp.


My van had agreed that we were going to go for a swim on the way back to camp. We stopped in Field for a swim in a small pond near the visitor’s center. The water was warmer than the river back at camp, but that’s not saying much. I’d guess in couldn’t have been much more than 62 degrees. Still, I swam the short distance across the pond and it was quite refreshing. Too bad it took me all week to realize that a swim at Field was a great idea after a day of hiking.


As is the tradition, the meal on the last day of camp is a BBQ consisting of burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and a couple of types of salad. While waiting in line to pick up my burger, I overheard a conversation that kind of annoyed me. Someone relatively close to the beginning of the line asked if it was OK to take both a hamburger AND a hot dog. The response was “Of course that’s OK. What are they going to do, kick you out of camp or something?” To me, that just totally missed the point. Everyone in line should have a chance to get their first hamburger or hot dog before anyone had seconds. That just seems logical and fair to me – and a few other people I mentioned this to, but for some reasons the people in front of me didn’t see it that way. OK, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.


Campfire tonight was really good. There was lots of singing, which I enjoyed all week more than I thought I would. Some of the leaders burned the tattered and torn Canadian Rockies guide books they don’t want to haul home with them. Burning books has some (justifiable) negative connotations, but it somehow seemed appropriate in this instance. As the books were going up in flames, a small group of us sat around telling stories of August Camps gone by. I mostly just listened since this was my first August Camp. I’m happy to say that I don’t think it will be my last.


With all of these extra activities, tonight was far and away the latest night of the week. A group of us were up until after 11:30 which means it was one of the few nights it was completely dark by the time I went to bed (the sky is still lit until after 10pm since we are so far north). I think we all stayed up “late” because we didn’t really want August Camp to come to an end.


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