Banff and Lake Louise

I intended this blog to be much more about food & cooking – and it will be, it will be! It’s just that these national parks are so stunning I’m compelled to write about them here.

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the beauty of Banff and Lake Louise. Everything was “er” – the mountains seemed higher, the rocks craggier, lakes bluer, wildlife easier to spot. Oh, the wildlife. All along Canadian Hwy 1A there were placards explaining the types of animals that roam the area:

With the exception of the lynx, we saw them all.  Patrick’s coworker, Ron, and his wife Kerry met us in Banff, and were kind enough to drive us around in their rental car; we all felt slightly like we were visiting a zoo. Big horned sheep stood right in the road while a bull elk grazed just off the highway.  A grizzly and her clumsy cub ambled towards our car as if to make the photo-taking easier.  A pack of wolves (wolves!) slunk into the woods at the edge of a meadow.  We even saw the small salamander.  And, later, after dark, two wolverines loped across the road in front of our RV.

One day we hiked to two teahouses, built in the early 1900s to encourage rich tourists to venture out of the posh Chateau Lake Louise. We first trudged up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and were rewarded with views of the milky blue Lake Louise. At Plain of Six Glaciers we saw white tailed ptarmigan and two chicks, and heard chunks of ice fall off the glacier and plunge into the valley below. The day turned gray, and we scrambled down the trail ahead of raindrops.

Eight miles and 1,800 feet total elevation gain later, we were starved.  We were grateful to be treated to a decadent meal at Walliser Stube in the Chateau Lake Louise. There were fat little pretzel rolls; thick, savory Air Dried Meat & Barley Soup; rich Parsnip Gratin with Rabbit Confit; and classic gruyere and emmentaler fondue seasoned with kirsch and nutmeg.  We also had tender bison and thin slices of beef to poach in broth, and a “tower of sauces” to sample. We speared and dipped until we were satiated, then indulged in dark chocolate fondue for dessert. With full bellies and tired legs, we bid farewell to Ron & Kerry, headed back to the Minnie and went to bed.

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