Day Sixteen

I got a late start today, a somewhat rare occurrence on this trip so far. Most mornings I’m racing to get myself out of bed and packed by 11:00 to meet checkout or racing to get onto a train or a bus, so I let myself stay in bed till about 10:00 today and took my time getting ready.

Once I was prepped, I went down the kitchen to make lunch, only to find that someone had stolen a fair bit of my food out of the fridge in the hostel kitchen. I was less than pleased, especially after checking to confirm that I hadn’t done anything stupid like forgetting to label my food or putting it on the free food shelf. Luckily, my ingredients for mac and cheese had ben left untouched, so I enjoyed a yummy lunch on the sunny deck of the hostel while reading through a chapter of my book.

I checked with the desk staff to see what the best way to the lake was, and they suggested going on either the Tramline Trail or the Louise Creek Trail. I got a little mixed up with their directions to the trailheads, but eventually found myself on the Louise Creek Trail. Most of it was steeply uphill and covered in snow despite the 27ºC weather; I was in shorts and a tank top and for the most part wouldn’t have noticed that I was marching through snow if not for all the slipping. I hit one really rough patch of deep snow towards the end of the trail by Lake Louise. Areas of it looked really compacted, but definitely weren’t. My right leg went straight though the snow to the knee, and when I pulled the right leg out, my left leg sank in. I just couldn’t win. That strugglefest was the name of the game for the next few meters, which was a bit exasperating.

I was so happy when I made it to the end of nightmare alley and the saw the parking lot and the Fairmont Lake Louise Chateau looming not far off. I walked through, past a cute little chalet that the Swiss guides who used to show people around the mountain lived in, until I got to the famed Lake Louise itself. Unfortunately, the lake was still mostly totally frozen over, so the color it’s so well known for wasn’t too evident. But it was still beautiful, so I plopped down on the boardwalk right by the shore, pulled on my classic salt and pepper Roots hoodie, and enjoyed the sun, the cool breeze off the alpine lake, my book, and the view of the Victoria Glacier across the water.

I felt pretty well rested after an hour and decided to make the hike up to Fairview Lookout that Megan suggested yesterday. It was another very tricky one, uphill and absolutely covered in snow. It was worth it though, not only for the view, but also for the hilarious encounter I had near the end of my ascent.

I was coming down a slight downhill, slipped, and yelped. An Australian man I’d noticed down the trail absolutely screamed. He was wearing a Eurovision t-shirt and was covered in bear poop — questions abounded, but went unasked and unanswered. He though me falling was a bear coming down the path, hence the hilarious, terrified reaction. His hiking partner came up to see what all the fuss was about, and after a little debriefing, we all went our separate ways.

The view from the lookout was fantastic. I could see the color of the lake much better despite the ice, as well as the sprawling chateau on the shore. After getting a couple of pictures, I knew it was time to try to start picking my way back towards the hostel.
My day was all downhill from there (in the best way possible). Making my way back down from the lookout was kinda fun in a way that kinda wasn’t, what with all the slipping, sliding, and sloshing of my soaking wet shoes. I ran into a couple from Akron, Ohio, whom the Aussies had actually asked to check on me to make sure I hadn’t slipped down a cliff, since I was hiking alone and no one would have known if I had otherwise.

I finally made it off lookout and onto the Tramline Trail, a much more gradual journey down than the Louise Creek Trail had been up. On my way, I ran into a man traversing Nightmare Alley who asked if I knew anywhere he could get a “Good For You” beer nearby. I told him the chateau wasn’t far, and thought he had a pretty good idea going.

I got a call from my Grandma Marc as I made my back. She had seen a public TV show on the construction of the Canadian railroads in this area. She was very excited to see where I was traveling and happy to hear my stories from the trip so far. It was fun to catch up with her and know that she found a way to feel like she was on this trip with me.

Just as I got to the end of my hike, I got really lost. I turned the wrong way at the old train station and wound up walking down a crumbling sidewalk along the rails until it ended, realizing fairly quickly that I wasn’t where I wanted to be and that my phone was dying. I quickly pulled out a map and frantically tried to orient myself using the station and the ski resort as landmarks. I figured out where I needed to be going and made my way back down the derelict sidewalk before running across a few train tracks and into the wooded back lawn of the hostel.

At that point I decided I deserved a snack, so I went and grabbed one from the market. I also stopped into a little shop and got a Lake Louise patch for my pack. I took my snack to some picnic tables by a stream and enjoyed a few more chapters of my book before heading back to the hostel.

I made a quick stop to my room to ditch my awful, wet runners before heading to the common room to try to send some emails to Royal. The hotels’ internet was acting up, so I asked the front desk where to go to get a good connection and made my way to the Explorer’s Lounge across the street. I was able to get some good food, berry ciders, and a connection strong enough to send emails at a reasonable speed and watch Game of Thrones (I tried last night, but it took me half-an-hour to get through ten minutes of the show and had to give up).

I ended the day back in the common room, watching people with skill play billiards. I got talking to them after hearing one of them mention the good deal she got on the exchange rate and asking if she was from the U.S. She and her travel partner, who is originally from Montréal, are med students from Philadelphia who had decided to go on a trip across Canada before starting their residencies in Ohio. I also starting talking to Matt, who was from Birmingham, England. We chatted a bit about GOT and shared pictures from our adventures so far. He was able to take really cool photosphere pictures, which got us talking about virtual reality technologies a bit (a bit of a nerd alert, but it was fun). He and I also talked about Scotland for a while after he mentioned going on a working holiday to the Isle of Skye. I told him about my time in the Fringe Festival and told him that if the chance to go ever presents itself, he should jump on it.

Matt and I said goodnight, and I imagine I’ll turn into bed pretty soon. I’ve got a big day tomorrow with Angie meeting me here and the two of us driving down to Banff!

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