Despite growing up only a couple of hours away, I’ve never been to the tea house at the end of the hike around Lake Louise. Today we made the hike.
I told Hannah that it’d be fine, real easy, in fact. Sneakers and comfortable shorts would be enough, I told her. She convinced me to wear just a t-shirt, a feat near impossible. I don’t know that I’ve ever sweat at night in Calgary but I have been this visit. It took her some convincing but she was right. She took my advice, wearing something comfortable on the way out of the house. She also packed athletic shorts and a sports bra.
She changed in the parking lot at Lake Louise.
As we walked down the slightly curving path, we could feel a cool breeze coming off of the water. We created a slight hill and then saw the lake as we reached the bottom. To see Hannah setting it for the first time is a memory I won’t forget. She was almost aghast, saying that all she could do was stared wide-eyed at the scene.
The lake, almost turquoise, looked bright, emanating even, under the cloudy sky. Surrounded by mountains, the lake stretches into the rising horizon. It is magnificent.
After taking a few pictures, a couple asked Hannah to take a picture of them. They then offered to take a picture of us.
Photos taken, we started the hike. Around the first half of the lake, it was easy. Flat, even, paved. A slight uphill, nothing insurmountable, followed. We climbed. Rising and plateauing, the hike was manageable. We felt energetic, stopping to take pictures at our leisure.
The returning hikers looked surly.
The path continued to climb. I asked if our sneakers meant we were underprepared or if the other hikers, properly outfitted with backpack bladders, energy gel packs, hiking poles, and hiking boots, were over-prepared. It was hard to believe that we were doing it better.
Looking back, the sliver of lake between the mountains looked majestic. The clouds above the mountains ahead of us looked comforting, providing shade.
The elevation rose. More steeply. Mountains, we were in. Treacherous, it felt. Sandstone outcrops, wide enough for two people. Gravel lined paths, likely from landslides.
About two hours in, at the steepest part of our climb thus far, a lady stopped to ask us if we were planning to visit the tea house. We said we were. She said it was closed. I asked how much further. She said 45 minutes. We climbed ten more steps, decided to turn around, and started to head back. Our hunger lead us. We hadn’t brought a snack and drank our water.
Forty-minutes later, we were back where we began. Our legs tired, feet a bit sore. A cup of tea would’ve been great.