Banff & Lake Louise

After an early start from Vancouver, we landed in Calgary and arrived to a pleasant -22 degrees! At this point, we thought we  just might turn back and head home. It was ridiculously cold. Our legs and hands numbed almost immediately and it literally left us breathless. It was the first leg of our trip to Banff – we took the Greyhound from Calgary the rest of the way there.

-22 the day we arrived!

Banff: The town centre looks like what we would picture a Christmas Village to be. In fact, all the Christmas decorations were still up while we were there. Lots of Aussies working/holidaying there and extremely picturesque.  It’s hard not to be when you’re surrounded by the Rockies. Day one we spent walking around the town and saw most of the snow covered foot paths as we kept our head down to avoid the chilly winds. The next day was a lot better and we were met with blue skies which led us to ride the Gondolas.

Banff at night

Banff GondolaBanff Gondolas: The Gondolas take you to the top of Sulphur Mountain. From the top you have an awesome view of the Canadian Rockies and Banff. There’s an observation deck and a Starbucks (as seems to be a requirement for all attractions in Canada :)). There was also a hiking trail which was “Not recommended for walking” during winter , but we braved it (after about 20 other people) and headed out there. We couldn’t get to the top as it was closed from all the snow, but we got high enough to see some pretty spectacular views..definitely worth the 6km hike (even though Runkeeper only said it was 1.2km).

On top of Sulphur Mountain

The Banff Hot SpringsHot Springs: From the Gondolas, the Banff Hot Springs are only a 10 minute walk. It seemed crazy getting into these hot springs in the middle of the snow – but when in Rome! :) We got into the springs and it’s a weird feeling. You want to just run in because it’s -10 degrees outside and snowing but you can’t because you’re legs are roasting in 39 degree heat…so it’s confusing but we worked it out in the end.  You can see the Rockies and just chillax in the spa. We stayed in there for about an hour, just as our skin started reddening. When we got out we saw a sign that said “No longer than 20 minutes”, a bit of a shock seeing we stayed in there for a whole 40 minutes extra..so we went up to the cafe and drank a few litres of water to cool down the core temperature…just in case a heart attack was on the cards! :) An awesome way to finish up the day…

"Stick a fork in my Jerry, I'm done" - Kramer

Chateau Lake LouiseLake Louise: The next day we had organised for a tour to take us down to Lake Louise. The tour included “Snow Shoeing” on Lake Louise and some Dog Sledding.  The Lake, which is usually known for it’s emerald colours was iced over and had about 1/2 a metre of snow on top of it. Ideal for snow shoeing, or so we were told. The shoes felt like massive spades on each foot, stomping through the snow. You couldn’t walk backwards as they are only for forward movement – so there was one or two falls. There had been an ice-sculpturing competition a couple of weeks prior, so we could still see some of the entries..pretty cool. I was wearing my snow gear, so I copped a snow ball or two..so the plan was to wait until the next activity to bring some justice back to the system.

Walking on Lake Louise

The sled!Dog Sledding: By far the most anticipated activity and it did not disappoint. Loved every minute of it. We were told to hire ski gear for the ride, as we would be sitting down for over an hour and we’d seriously get cold. We had nine Alaskan huskies that pulled us through the snow, plus the Musher (the driver). The ride was a bit bumpier than what we’d originally imagined, but it was a lot of fun. We had the opportunity to drive the sled ourselves, so I was first up. The ride from the back was much smoother, there were bumps but you could jump with them (like surfing I assume) –  I must have been on the back of the sled for about 10 minutes, when I couldn’t feel my fingers from the cold and stupidly let go of the sled and landed face first in snow. I didn’t say much when going down – or while my face was in the snow. The driver thankfully stopped the sled and made Angus aware that I was covered in snow. Which brought him so much happiness..lucky for me I had the camera – so no paparazzi shots but it was enjoyable none-the-less. Unfortunately for me, he had a flawless sled ride which means I’ll just have to spear tackle him into some snow at some stage in the future…

Three of the nine dogs that pulled us ... That's 'Dude' in the background :)

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  • http://travelsat88mph.wordpress.com/ Rebecca

    Ohmigod, puppies! Looks like so much fun.

    This is a part of the world that I have been hearing about my ENTIRE life as my mom has always wanted to go there (except in the summer). Just a perfect example of being so close (“eh, we’ll get there eventually” seems to be the motto) and just never getting there as we live in Los Angeles. So not super close, but not really too far either.

    • http://angusflorance.wordpress.com Angus

      You have to go! We want to come back in the summer now just to see how different it is.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Crammond/100002150095735 Lisa Crammond

    AAh memories, one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. One day we will share the beauty of the Rockies with our kids