After staying up a little later than planned (because that’s what you do when you make new friends in a hostel, and YOLO!), I popped out of bed on Monday morning and headed to the front of Samesun Banff to wait for the rest of my group for the Athabasca tour, which would take us to Jasper and Lake Louise with multiple stops along the way. I was equally nervous and excited to be greeted by a full tour bus- some 20 people total I believe. I found my seat, and after a few delays from slower tour mates, we were off!
This blog post might be more awesome if I could tell you everywhere we went, but let’s be honest, I was having too much fun to keep up with it all.
Fun fact about this lake- The dams that were built here allow it to supply the Town of Banff with hydro-electric power. The last dam, which was built in 1941, actually caused the water to rise so much that it submerged an entire resort village! Great news if you like to scuba dive though.
Two Jack Lake was just down the road and our second stop on the trip. I didn’t take too many pictures I loved there, but our next stop was a hike around Johnson Lake.
We took the flat trail counterclockwise around the lake, which meant we had a great view of the mountains from just about everywhere. If I lived near this place, it’s somewhere I’d spend plenty of time. There’s enough shade to keep things cool when it’s warmer and it’s really just a nice walk overall.
Takakkaw Falls and Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park
We headed to one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, Takakkaw Falls, for lunch. The water itself is absolutely beautiful, like crystal clear ice.
After we finished eating, we got up to explore as a group. I was in my own little world, in awe of the colors I’ve never seen, the sounds I’ve rarely heard and the views I’ll never get at home. Sensory/happiness overload!
I learned from a sign near here that this actually used to be covered by a sea. Waves left the ripple marks in the sand and mud, so the ripples you see now in the rocks were created as sediment settled on top and compressed the sand and mud into rock. Nature is so fancy.
I just couldn’t get over the color of the water, which ended up being a theme for the day. Next up was Emerald Lake, a completely different shade of beautiful.
Emerald Lake is a sparkling shade of turquoise, and it’s surrounded by a lodge with easy access to hiking and water activities like canoeing. I feel thankful to have been there in May when it was less crowded. I can imagine this area is a nightmare June-August.
The body of water observation continued as we headed to the two places everyone has heard of in Canada- Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.
This was the mac daddy of the trip for me. I could have spent at least an hour walking around here, and I’m bummed we didn’t have more time (thank you slow tour mates for giving us a late start)- the only downside to the tour I would say, but by no means a deal breaker.
I didn’t get any shots of the lake from the bottom, because as soon as I found out we could climb, I knew where I was headed.
As if the water weren’t beautiful enough, here’s what the other side of the climb had to offer-
Moraine Lake is 100% a must-see if you’re in the area. The photos don’t even do it justice. I took a good amount, but actually decided not to take as many as I could have because I really wanted to take it all in with my own eyes rather than my camera lens.
I believe this was our final stop for the day, and a great way to wrap things up. We spent a little more time here, although I have to say Moraine was still my favorite. There’s just something about that water, mixed with the insane views and fresh air. I feel the need to pause for a moment of silence…
Okay, silence complete. Lake Louise was named after a princess. The scenery is amazing and you can do everything from skiing in the winter to hiking in the warmer months. I enjoyed sitting on the dock where we entered to soak up the beauty.
And with that last bit of scenery, we were off to HI Lake Louise for some much needed rest!
Day 2 to follow