It was really Rainy! We left Calgary and headed to Banff and Lake Minnewanka. The Lake still looked beautiful, despite the weather and there were even a set of red chairs! We walked round the lake to Stewart Canyon - which may be good at other times of the year, but in August, was not the gushing canyon I had expected.
Due to the really bad weather, we decided to have a more relaxed afternoon and wandered in to Banff town, which was really busy! We visited the Cave and Basin - A National Historical Site - a natural hot spring in a cave. Unfortunately you are not allowed in it but it was still nice to look around. There was also a short marshland walk where we saw a beaver! Banff town has lots of tourist shops and some nice restaurants.
We began at Bow Falls in the centre of town and spent the morning wandering the Bow River Trail in the search of hoodoos - which we never found - but did find lots of Elk and have a really pleasant morning. In the afternoon we visited Johnston Canyon to do a 2-hour hike to the ink pots. The first stretch of the walk - to the lower falls (very cool - you have to go through a cave to see it) was incredibly busy with tourists, but they seemed to give up after that and the the walk on to the upper falls became very tranquil. The upper falls was made up of two very nice waterfalls. The ink pots were incredible, bright blue and green with bubbles where air from under ground was escaping - the photographs don't really do it justice!
We set our alarms really early the next day and set out for Moraine Lake - I wanted to get there before the crowds arrived - and I'm so glad I did, it was so serene, peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful.
From Moraine Lake we drove to the Lake Louise area, and started with taking the Lake Louise gondola - I was pretty excited as I had read that often grizzly bears are spotted here - and luckily for us there was a female grizzly at the top of the gondola!! There was low-lying fog on our way up but this cleared whilst we were at the top giving beautiful views across to Lake Louise.
We drove to Lake Louise for a wonderful half day hike (18km, 5hours). It started from the turquoise lake side and despite it being really busy for the first half an hour, the crowds thinned as we walked. There was a smaller mirror lake in front of the 'beehive' which gave us a good view of what we would be climbing. This led on to Lake Agnes with the popular Agnes teahouse - it was really busy so we continued on and climbed the big beehive for truly amazing views over Lake Louise. There is a gorgeous gazebo built on top and a geocaching box! We continued out hike to the Plain of the Glacier Trail, on this trail there is a second, much cuter, teahouse where we stopped for a refreshing lemonade. The trail takes you right up the Victoria glacier which feeds Lake Louise. As with most glaciers it is much prettier from a little further away!
We completed our busy day with a trip up the Banff gondola when we got back to town - it was really busy - but great views!