After a 5 km warm-up Monday evening and a 23.9 km epic hike to the Burgess Shales yesterday, we were ready for something a little less strenuous today. After a very enjoyable buffet breakfast at the Poppy Brasserie (Chateau Lake Louise), we donned our hiking boots and packs and, with trekking poles in hand, headed out to walk to Lake Agnes. We were at the trailhead a few minutes after 9 o’clock and climbed steadily, overtaking 2 groups and meeting 3 or 4 parties already on their way back down. Kristi, our guide for the Burgess Shale hike, told us yesterday that in the summer months more than 16,000 people visit Lake Louise each day. Some portion of them climb to the tea house and our guidebook said that you should be on the trail by 9 o’clock in order to avoid very crowded conditions!
K poses with the statue of an Alpine Guide, installed in 2006 to celebrate the
100th anniversary of guided hiking in the Canadian Rockies
We reached Mirror Lake just before 10 o’clock and spent about a half hour here; we had to don our rain jackets as the intermittent rain turned to steady, light rain. While most of the family took photos and had a quick snack, Mrs. GeoK went in search of GCJE0C, a grandfathered traditional cache hidden in 2004, well before the current National Parks geocaching policy came into effect. After finding the container and signing the logbook, she reported that it was a good thing the cache hiders provided a very good hint, as she found it 31 meters off the published coordinates!!
We carried on a short distance and then Mr. GeoK decided to head up Little Beehive while the rest of us carried on to Lake Agnes. After some wandering about, enjoying the waterfall and the still waters of Lake Agnes, K and I decided to circumnavigate the lake, walking counterclockwise from the tea house. Oldest GeoKid didn’t like the looks of the rubble along the southern lake shore, so he headed out to walk the northern lake shore and meet us at the head of the lake.
Oldest GeoKid was right to be concerned about the wet rocks; Youngest GeoKid slipped and fell twice and will likely end up with a bruised ankle and shin. We had to do a little scrambling when we reached one short section where there was no shoreline – just a bit of a drop-off ending in the water. But this is just the kind of thing Youngest GeoKid loves and he really enjoyed our trek to the head of the lake.
The rain started to come down pretty hard at this point, so we paused beside a lone larch tree (dubbed Sir Pineconious by K) to put on our rain pants. Mr. GeoK reached the summit of Little Beehive about the same time and reported via walkie-talkie that it was totally socked in with no view in any direction! Meanwhile, Oldest GeoKid was suffering from cold hands and balked at putting on his rainpants without somewhere to sit down to avoid getting muddy socks. So we all headed back to the tea house as quickly as possible, Mrs. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid arriving just in time to help Oldest GeoKid wrestle on his neoprene gloves. Mr. GeoK arrived just a few minutes later and at 11:25 we were ready to head back down the hill.
We passed at least 30 groups of people on our way back down, some of them better prepared for the weather than others! It was a quick descent, as we were back at the trailhead by 12:05 pm. Total hiking distance for Mrs. GeoK and the GeoKids was just shy of 10 km with 400 meters gain. Mr. GeoK trekked farther and higher, but unfortunately didn’t get any great photos for his effort!