Glacier National Park, BC

Glacier Park Lodge 1994

On our very first Canadian holiday in 1994 we spent a couple of nights in Glacier Park Lodge at the top of Rogers Pass, BC. What fun to stay there again, we thought! Sadly, a cursory search of the internet showed that time has not been kind to the Lodge. The adjacent gas station closed in 2009 and the Lodge in 2012. A series of lawsuits has left them both derelict and unloved and, although the Parks Canada Visitor Centre in between is still open, it’s a depressing place to visit, especially as the Trans Canada to either side is undergoing massive road-works at the moment.

Glacier Park Lodge 2017

So where did we stay? Well, on the eastern edge of the park we found Heather Mountain Lodge – the best accommodation of our entire trip. A beautiful setting with fluffy neighbours:

 

– and fabulous food:

 

And yet – you might have noticed a certain haziness in some of these pictures and in the one of Glacier Park Lodge in 2017. The mountains in 1994 were much clearer. Look at these two, taken a couple of days apart this year, of roughly the same view at Heather Mountain Lodge:

 

This was the effect of fires further west, the smoke from which, depending on wind direction, obscured our views most days and contributed to poor air quality. Now I know that’s trivial compared to the lot of the poor people who were being evacuated from their homes, so I’m not complaining (really). It just added to the melancholy feeling of seeing the old lodge so run down. Add to that the helicopter in one of the galleries above which landed and took off several times from our hotel’s grounds. We thought it was taking water to the fires, but it turned out to be searching for a young Irish tourist who had drowned in a nearby lake.

This was also where I found that my body had developed far more aches and pains than it had in 1994, or even 2007 when we last visited the Rockies. The trails in Glacier weren’t long but some of them were very steep. My knees hurt on the way up and my ankles on the way down. Did I moan? Ask John! On second thoughts – don’t. You might be shocked if he repeats my language.

Marion Lake

A steep, forested hike to a mediocre lake and a viewpoint which would have been lovely without the smoke!

 

Meeting of the Waters

An easy walk past the confluence of Asulkan Brook and the Illecillewaet River. This was pretty, and took in the ruins of the first hotel in the area, Glacier House.

 

Rock Garden, Loop Brook Trail and Bear Creek Falls

Three short trails: Rock Garden over lots of, surprisingly, rocks; Loop Brook along the route of an old railway line; and Bear Creek Falls – the name says it all.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail

When I was looking for the old pictures of Glacier Park Lodge, I also found photos of the hike we did up to the Asulkan Glacier in 1994: clear blue skies and the mountains in all their glory. This was three times as long and twice as high as the Marion Lake trail we did this year, yet I’m smiling (and rocking a fabulous pair of leggings it has to be said).

 

So, a slightly negative post – is the moral never to go back? It can be sad to return somewhere you’ve had a really happy time only to find that it doesn’t live up to expectations. Having said that, I did enjoy our stay: just maybe not as much as some of the other places we visited.

From Glacier, we headed back into Alberta and north to Jasper.

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Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise

Saskatchewan Glacier
Saskatchewan Glacier

On the way down from Jasper to Lake Louise, we stopped off to hike the Parker’s Ridge trail which overlooks the Saskatchewan Glacier. The weather seems to have deserted us here, but I don’t remember that. It all looks very dramatic in the cloud.

By the time we got to Lake Louise, all was sunny again. On arrival, we climbed to a lookout over the Lake and the fabulous Chateau Lake Louise – and we had to do it twice!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

On the map, it looked as though you could do a circular walk by taking a steep rocky path down from the Lookout to the Lake and following it round the water’s edge to the original starting point. However, when we got to the Lake it seemed that any previous path was long submerged. We paddled for a bit, but when it became wading we had to turn round. I got back up that steep rocky path PDQ and was glad that a) this was near the end of the holiday and I was much fitter than when we set out and b) we had a table booked for dinner which we would miss if we didn’t hurry. This was a huge incentive as you can imagine!

The next day, we hiked the Plain of the Six Glaciers and Lake Agnes trails. My main memories are that, despite my smile, I was very unhappy on the scree sections and (better) that there were two tea-houses on these trails. Unaccountably, we have no pictures of them, but I’ve checked the guidebook and my memory is correct. Scotland’s mountains need more tea-houses! 😉

On our final day, we ventured first to Moraine Lake:

Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake

Then we crossed the border into British Columbia. Many years before, we had a holiday in BC and the furthest east we ventured was Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. So this time we ventured west to revisit them and our two holidays “met up”.

The following day, we drove back to Calgary for our flight home. I’ve really enjoyed writing this series – I remembered the Rockies being beautiful but they are even better in retrospect. I want to go again! If you read earlier posts, you might remember that this was my 50th birthday trip in 2007. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to work out that I have another big birthday coming up soon, so maybe I should celebrate in the same place? Especially as Canada also has a big birthday in 2017 (150th) and I’ve recently read that all National Parks will be free next year to celebrate. Watch this space….

In the meantime, our next Canadian trip will be to Toronto. Hints and tips from local bloggers welcome! And finally, this post is linked to Jo’s wonderful Monday Walks series. She has a lovely spring-time Algarve walk this week, which should cheer you up whatever your own weather is doing. Enjoy!