Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wonderfall Part 1

Lake Agnes Teahouse and beyond

The Banff/Lake Louise area put out a new theme for this fall: Wonderfall
They put together the most colorful fall hikes, and after reading through the little brochure they provided, I decided to try a few...
For the first hike, to Lake Agnes, I couldn't have picked a nicer day. Crisp and a bit chilly in the morning but sunny throughout the day. Lake Agnes is a short hike away from the Chateau Lake Louise. After I made it through the masses of people at the shore of Lake Louise, the farther up I went the less people I would see.

Most of the time the trail winds through forest with a very few glimpses down to Lake Louise, but then, about twenty minutes before Lake Agnes, a little lake, Mirror Lake, appears seemingly out of nowhere. I'm not surprised they named it Mirror Lake as it's surface was a smooth as glass!
The Stoney tribe called this lake the "Goat's Looking Glass". In their legend the mountain goats used the lake as a mirror to comb their beards.

Between Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes one looks up to a very prominent "rock", the Big Beehive, again, aptly named. As I glanced up I thought that the view from up there would be terrific. But climbing up there seemed out of the question...little did I know...

The sun was just peeking around the corner of Big Beehive when I finally arrived at Lake Agnes.

The sun hadn't reached the whole valley though. The water was still smooth and I could get a nice reflection. While I was waiting for the sun to fully illuminate the valley I enjoyed a lunch break at the Lake Agnes Teahouse.

While I was sitting there, enjoying their signature apple crumble, very yummy, and a pot of coffee, I talked to my server about the hikes around the area and she suggested a different route to go back....a route that would lead me to the top of the Big Beehive. I must have looked a bit disbelieving as she mentioned the Big Beehive because she assured me right away the the climb up there from the back was not as bad as it may look.

So, around the lake and up the mountain I went.

"Lake in the Clouds" was the lakes' original name, given to the lake by the local Stoney tribe. In 1890 it then was named Lake Agnes, in honor of two notable ladies of the time. One was Lady Susan Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Canada's first prime minister. She was told to be the first (western) women to have traveled to the lake. Unknown to her and her travel party though was that a few days earlier Agnes Knoz, a prominent speaker from Toronto, had visited the lake, too. 
Everybody was kept happy by naming the lake "Lake Agnes"

Here a glance back to the teahouse:

And of course the helpful server was right, the climb was steep but  not as dramatic as I had imagined. Plus the views just got better and better.

View up to the Plain of the Six Glaciers,

and back to the Bow Valley.

Last peek down to Lake Agnes and then, minutes later

Lake Louise, as seen from the top of Big Beehive.

After taking in this amazing view, I descended Big Beehive on the "other" side, with equally amazing views of the surrounding mountains and extensive peeks of Lake Louise.

Almost back down, a view of the the Lake Louise delta.

11 km and 800 m elevation gain later, I was back at the car and one very happy hiker. As I found out later, there is a hike to Lake Agnes including the Plain of the Six Glaciers...I know what I will do next year around this time ;-)

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