Friday, September 23, 2016

Lake Louise Teahouse Challenge

16 km
400 m elevation

It was a cold, wet morning when Kyle and I left the warm cozy trailer at the Lake Louise Campground. Our climbing plans shot, we made our way to one of the most photographed lakes in Canada with a plan to visit the two teahouses in the area, Lake Agnes Teahouse and Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse. It is possible to hike to both teahouses in a 14.6 km circuit with new views around every corner. 

We started with the Lake Agnes Teahouse. This is a popular destination for visitors to Lake Louise because it is only 3.6 km from the Chateau Lake Louise, although it is a bit of a grind up 400 m of switchbacks and stairs. We managed to snag a table and enjoyed a hot pot of tea with tea biscuits at our first stop on our teahouse challenge. 
Fairview Mountain towers above Lake Louise with a dusting of new snow
The stunning colour of Lake Louise never ceases to amaze
The Lake Agnes Teahouse was built in 1901 and started serving tea in 1905. Since then, it has been warming up hikers every day from June to October and is open from 8-5.
Lake Agnes at the Lake Louise Teahouse
If you are visiting the teahouses, bring cash! They don't take credit cards. All the supplies are either flown in by helicopter at the beginning of the season, or carried up by staff a few times per week, and all the food is made on-site.
Stop #1 on our teahouse challenge overlooking the Chateau Lake Louise
After a leisurely stop at Lake Agnes, the clouds were starting to lift. We back-tracked slightly to join the Highline Trail and make our way over to the second teahouse. The number of hikers fell dramatically as we left the vicinity of Lake Agnes and we had the views to ourselves.
Larch trees and fresh snow in the alpine
Views of the lake from the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail
A look over the lake to the ski hill beyond
Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail
After contouring across the slope for a few kilometers, the Highline Trail joined the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail and started to climb again. The Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse is tucked up in the trees and doesn't have much of a view, but was a nice hideout from the weather. We didn't think to snap any photos of the teahouse so I have borrowed one from trip advisor that shows a much sunnier day than we were having. This teahouse was build in 1924 by Swiss Mountain Guides for mountaineers en-route to Mt. Lefroy and Victoria. Like the Lake Agnes Teahouse, supplies are heli'ed in or brought in by staff or on horseback. If you were to just hike to this teahouse, it is a 5.3 km walk in one direction with 370 m of elevation and it is open from late June/early July to October.
Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse (from trip advisor)
The service was very slow, but the tea was hot and the apple cinnamon cake we got was devoured in seconds. With the teahouse challenge complete, we added on an additional 1.5 km and hiked up to the end of the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail, which finishes on a large moraine with views of 6 glaciers (apparently). The clouds had rolled in and we weren't able to appreciate the mountains towering above us, but our view back towards Lake Louise was stunning.
Our view of Mt. Victoria and Abbott Pass was obstructed somewhat by clouds
A break in the weather?
Mt. Fairview from Plain of the Six Glaciers
Instead of returning via the Highline Trail, we took the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail back to the Lakeshore Trail and followed the lake back to the Chateau Lake Louise. This was the perfect activity for a cold, drizzly fall day!!

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