So this is how our day started off with a hike to…of all places…a tea house. We left the motorhome at 6 a.m. with sleep still in our eyes but hot coffee in our hands. A warm flannel shirt helped cut the morning chill. We knew this popular hike would be filled with people later in the morning and wanted some Rocky Mountain peace to ourselves. The lure of listening to morning songbirds instead of complaining urban hikers was what propelled us to lace up our shoes before the sun rose over the mountain.
|It was hard to leave the serenity of Lake Louise.|
The trail begins at the emerald waters of Lake Louise where you leave the bustling Chateau Lake Louise(a.k.a., the Fairmont Hotel) behind and quickly plunge into the forested and serene part of your journey. Our plan worked. We were the only ones on the trail which was surprising as the parking lot the day before in the afternoon looked like a super-sized used car lot. There was a little apprehension when we passed the “Be Cougar Aware” sign and warned of recent sightings. The most disheartening thing about the sign was that the cat was pouncing. And then there was the confession I made to Betsy that there was a 1,000 plus foot elevation gain in this 4 ½-mile trail. She scowled at the revelation but agreed to proceed.
The trail is discouraging and disheartening as every time you look ahead you see UP. Not straight up mind you, but still it is up. The quiet walk in the dense woods is worth the pain you feel in your butt and thighs because of the beauty you witness hiking in the Rockies.
Within a kilometer of our final destination our senses were illuminated with the beautiful clear waters of Mirror Lake. We unleashed the Spirit and let her break the glass-like surface of the lake. And we were all alone!
|Not a bad view! And the tea tasted good too.|
With a happy, wet dog we proceeded further up and deeper into the woods. Finally, we emerged at the gorgeous Lake Agnes and laid eyes on the famous tea house that brought us up the mountain well before we had drained the coffee pot. The original tea house was built in 1905 and replaced with a more modern functional building in 1981. The outdoor patio was a restful place for our legs while Spirit found the lake a wonderful playground. Best of all, we were the only people there. We joked on the way up that the tea house was probably closed on Sunday and that is why no one else was on the trail. But much to our delight the door was open and we were cheerfully greeted by a nice young cook who had biscuit dough coating her hands. She informed us that the tea house was not open for another twenty minutes. We were willing to wait (because after all, we did hike to a tea house) but the nice young cook offered to put on a pot of water for us after she washed her doughy hands. She was ever so sweet to oblige and we had a great chat with her while the blueberry tea steeped. Curious, we asked how she got to work every day…did she walk, come by horseback, helicopter, or how. Nope, she lives up there. Now we felt bad for intruding so early. She laughed and said 20 minutes was not that early some people come at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise. She threatened to approach them in her pink pj’s and tell them to keep down the noise the cook was sleeping.
|Sorry little Spirit, time to head back down.|
It was time to leave so Betsy brought in our empty tea cups and kettle and as she approached the swinging kitchen doors she witnessed the glorious site of a sheet pan of flaky, warm biscuits emerging from a hot oven. Again, the nice young cook obliged our desire for these gifts from heaven and brought us two biscuits and jam as we sat overlooking a valley all alone. She nicely served us a good 20 minutes before the tea house was actually open. Thank you nice young cook.
I said earlier that the pain of ascending was worth it because of the surrounding natural beauty, but now I am going to correct myself. It is also the hot home-made biscuit coated with butter and sweet jam that made it worth it. O.k., so the scenery and biscuit complemented each other and made this a splendid morning that Betsy and I will not soon forget. As for Spirit…two lakes to swim in, a taste of biscuit, and many pats as we past hordes of people on our descent rocked her little dog world.
|Lake Louise looks milky-green from far above.|