Contrary to the weather forecast, we woke to a brilliant, clear morning.
And rushed down to breakfast when it opened at seven.
Advised by the man on reception we opted for the gondola and drove straight there, ushered in by the cheerful lady who was arriving to take down the barriers on the road.
The staff at the gondola were opening up as well, ready for the 9.00am start. “You guys sure lucked-out this morning.”
No, mornings like this were not usual at this time of year.
After the familiar exchange about where we were from – “the South, fifty miles west of London” – where they were from – how Grandma was English, but born in India – how the Chinese have discovered Lake Louise recently (which the owners like as numbers had been falling off) and, after showing them our video of the bear from yesterday, their despair that visitors will stop their cars and even feed the animals (ours was taken with the telephoto from across a road and a river, but three cars had stopped and one woman had got out) “We’ve all done it. But you might as well just take out a gun and shoot them” (I.e. by making them see people as a food source).
“Open up for them, they seem like nice folks.”
Short video telling us how to respect bears, out to the gondola, into an open chair, barrier bangs down shut and we’re off, me suddenly remembering that I don’t really like this sort of thing…
Too late, concentrate on looking for grizzly bears – they’ve been seen almost every day from the gondola this month. No luck this time, but it helps, but not enough to stop me worrying about coming down, facing out…
Stupid. Irrational. But very real.
So we were their first visitors of the day and we walked the short trail to the educational centre where Raissa, guide extraordinaire, was expecting us (thanks to a phone call from down below)
After a leisurely inspection of the exhibits in the centre and another excellent video discussing the pressures of visitors and transport routes (one shot showed 2 miles of parked cars on the road up to Morraine Lake at the height of the summer season) we put on our “outdoor voices” and went through the electric fence around the resort. The drill was to shout “Heh bear!” at intervals because it is good to let them know you’re there… Hmmm.
As mentioned above,the journey down after that was actually delightful, and the views across Lake Louise to the mountains utterly breathtaking.
Calling at the village for a couple of sandwiches we set off in the car up the 14km side road to Morraine Lake which had only just been opened after the winter.
When we got there we opted for the five mile out and back hike to Consolation Lakes. Again through bear country (in theory) so I did some loud singing when there was nobody about except Lesley (and bears?) to suffer.
And the views of the lake and the glaciers beyond, when we got there, was ‘consolation’ indeed
This holiday is just incredible!