Day 3 – Rocky Mountaineer

9 August 2011

I have on 3 other occasions been through the Rocky Mountains but our trip from Banff to Lake Louise was a special treat. Not only did we take the scenic old rocky mountain highway, but our tour also took a few breathtaking detours that I had not previously experienced. The old highway meandered off of the main route and onto a road that wound at the base of mountain peeks. Along the route our Brewster driver/guide Colin, entertained us with stories on why a few trees still grow in a small 8 foot by 30 foot island in one section of the road as well as the naming of Castle Mountain (at one time renamed Eisenhower Mountain on behalf of the former US President but now one peak still maintains the Eisenhower name).

Castle Mountain stands out with its tall pointed peaks which spire up and reach relatively level heights. This stop was followed by Natural Bridge which is a river filled with rock flour that over the years has pounded into a stone wall so much that it now has created an arched bridge under which the water flows. We then moved to a viewpoint for the Spiral Tunnels. This turnoff from the main highway has an exhibit to describe how the railway was able to tunnel loops into the mountain in order to decrease the grade of the railway line from over 4% to under 2%. It was an interesting exhibit with an overlook view on the rail lines that go in and out of the tunnels. Our final stop before Lake Louise was a place called Emerald Lake. This serene lake with its calm emerald green waters flanked by tall snow capped peaks on a warm August day had me wanting to stop and stay a while. It was incredible to just sit by myself surrounded by nature in such a beautiful setting. One private luxury resort has its private bridge over the edge of the lake to their secluded cabins while a small gift shop rents out canoes to the visitors who want a closer look as they paddle around the lake for $35 per hour.

Our final stop of the tour took us to the awe inspiring scene of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise along with its incredible location hugging the shore of this mountain top lake. Although I have been here on a few occasions, it is one of the most amazing views in the Rocky Mountains. The sky was blue with a few white clouds in the distance which caused the turquoise colour in the lake to glow against the backdrop of the glacier on the far side of the lake. I was disappointed to not have any time to hike the numerous trails that can be explored in the area but the scene nonetheless was as spectacular as ever.

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