Lake Agnes Tea House

John was up and out for breakfast in 10 seconds flat. It was only 7:30 but he’d been awake for ages and had had enough….. of Matt sniffing and Kim snoring.

The remainder of the family struggled to catch up. Matt went for a short 10 minute run. 45 minutes later, a text arrived saying he’d got carried away and hadn’t been eaten by a bear. Quite honestly, we hadn’t noticed he been missing that long.

Today’s challenge was the hike from Lake Louise up to Lake Agnes Tea House, a round trip of 7km which is no distance at all.

We hadn’t reckoned with the 400m elevation climb over 3km. It was a challenge for the older Brays, stopping frequently to catch our breath. We blamed it on altitude sickness rather than being unfit and made a note to spend more time drinking tea at base camp to acclimatise before attempting mountaineering feats. Most of the climb up was through trees with just an occasional gap offering a view of the lake below.

About 3/4 of the way up you could glimpse the Tea House above the trees, but it was still a huge climb.

1km before the top, there was a chance to catch our breath at Mirror Lake. It gets its name from the reflection of the trees and Big Beehive in the water. Not a great photo, sorry!

After another 800m climb we finally arrived at Lake Agnes and the Tea House at an elevation of 2135m above sea level.

It’s the oldest in Canada, opening in 1901 and is family run. There is no electricity, supplies are helicoptered in at the start of the season and topped up by staff, on their way up, on a daily basis. Everything is made fresh on site and our soup with homemade bread and pot of tea were delicious. Walkers are asked to assist by carrying bags of rubbish back down with them. It was well worth the effort with Lake Agnes in the background

We set off intending to walk to another Tea House at Plain of the Six Glaciers. It’s elevation was lower, so we thought the extra 7km should be easier. We picked up the trail back down at Mirror Lake and stopped at the first serious incline. Sometimes you need to know when to give up!

The descent was hard on knees and calves, it was difficult to imagine we’d actually made it to the top

Back at base camp Lake Louise looked stunning in the afternoon sunshine.

Tonight’s dinner was at Lake Louise Station Restaurant. It is one of the few remaining log stations in Canada, built in 1910 and still active. Staff are rushed off their feet – meeting one train a day, the famous Rocky Mountaineer. As we dined a couple of freight trains rumbled past, they are huge and can be up to 4km long, taking 15 minutes to pass which is very inconvenient if you are waiting to cross the track while out on a run as Matt found out.

It was raining when we left but decided to take a final trip to Moraine Lake. The approach was misty and moody in the fading light however the lake itself totally eclipsed anything Lake Louise could offer. These pictures were taken at the same time, we couldn’t believe how different the lake looked from two perspectives

Tomorrow we drive the Icefields Parkway, across the Rockies, to Jasper