Sunday, June 12, 2016

Paddling Lake Louise

Trip Date: June 2016

Lake Louise is one of the most photographed lakes in the world and it's easy to see why. I have been to the popular lake numerous times for a variety of activities (see this post for an example), but had never paddled on the turquoise water that makes the lake famous. That all changed on a recent weekend in June when Christine and I packed the truck with our stand-up paddleboards (SUP) and headed west into Banff National Park.

Rome and I starting our day of paddling
Rome is quite comfortable sitting on the front of my board!
Even though it was early June and still considered "shoulder season" the parking lot was already pretty full when we rolled in. I had anticipated a crowd, but the amount of people milling around was a bit surprising. Maybe it was the cloudless sky and warm temperatures that brought everyone to the lake shore that morning. We found a parking spot in the lower lot, grabbed our gear, and headed for the lake. We made our way through the throng of tourists snapping photos and found a relatively quiet spot to inflate our boards. Christine and I both have inflatable SUPs from Northwest River Supplies (NRS). They make awesome all-around boards that are great for both flat and moving water. After our boards were ready to go I ran back to the truck, dropped off everything we wouldn't need, leashed Rome, and made my way back to Christine, who was patiently waiting to get on the water.

My paddle + GoPro = cool photos!
Contrary to the beliefs of some tourists the bottom of the lake is not painted turquoise blue. The lake gets its colour from suspended particles of rock flour being deposited into the lake by melting glaciers.
Christine taking the lead
Christine and I with Chateau Louise in the background
We launched the boards among a host of camera flashes; apparently we were a bit of a novelty to the out-of-town visitors! I like to think it was our extraordinary good looks, but in all honesty it was likely Rome that commanded much of the attention. Everyone was quite surprised and entertained that she would sit comfortably on the nose of my board as we paddled towards the far end of the lake. Although there were several canoes out on the lake we were the only paddleboarders in sight. Many canoeists paddled over to chat and snap a photo or two of Rome perched on the board!

Playing in the water at the far end of the lake
My NRS board docked on the sandy beach
We docked the boards on the beach at the far and of the lake and did a bit of exploring while Rome sniffed every rock and stick she found. The wind started to blow so we decided to make our way back before the lake got too choppy.

Paddle selfie
Christine appears to love her new board!
Making our way back
The Caribbean of the Rockies!
Like most of the lakes in Alberta, Lake Louise is a public body of water meaning anybody can access it for paddling trips. You aren't allowed to use the docks where the canoe rentals are, but any access-point along the shoreline is fair game. The lake is just above freezing throughout the year so it's important to be prepared while out on the water, which includes wearing a PFD and proper clothing. If you fall in into the water hypothermia becomes a real danger in a very short amount of time. Exercise caution and you'll have an unforgettable experience out on the lake!

It's pretty obvious we had an awesome time paddling on Lake Louise. This won't be our last paddling adventure on a glacier-fed lake. We are hoping to get to Moraine Lake next, so stay tuned!

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