The Canadian Rockies

Weekend getaways are my mental reset button.  Unfortunately, they are never long enough and always leave me craving for more.  Not to mention, when your traveling partner is a workaholic, the planning process usually requires strategic negotiation and skillful bargaining tactics to actually make the trip happen.  Sounds intense?  Yes.  But worth it?  Yes, YES!  

Banff and Lake Louise have been on my list of places to visit since I caught glimpse of their picturesque scenery from a friend's Facebook photo years ago.    We went on the first weekend of Spring (in March), which, in retrospect, was probably not the optimal time to go since  there wasn't as much snow and most of the lakes were still frozen.   But it was still beautiful nevertheless.  And, now, I have an excuse to return in the summer!  

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk 

We booked a half day tour with Discover Banff Tours for the ice walk.  They weren't kidding about the ice part of this walk.  Thankfully, the tour company provided us with ice cleats to strap onto our shoes so we could do the 2-mile walk through this scenic trail without slipping and gliding everywhere.  Even with the cleats, I was using Dannie as a human crutch through some of the slippery slopes.    The best time to go on this walk would have been in late December/January when there are more snow but it was still a really enjoyable experience.  My favorite part was catching the snowfall over the waterfall at the end of the walk - living in California, I don't see snow often enough so it always elicits a magical feeling when I do.   Tip:  Dress accordingly but not too warm because the walk will heat you up really fast

Banff Gondola Alpine Lights Dinner at the Panorama Restaurant

We're most happy when we're eating so heading towards food almost always leads us in the right direction.  This time was no exception.  We reserved an Alberta prime rib dinner at the Panorama Restaurant, which included a gondola ride up to Sulphur Mountain.  Unbeknownst to us, next to the restaurant was a beautiful walkway to the top of the mountain.  From the pictures, it's not apparent how bone chilling cold it was.   Even with gloves on, I could only take my hands out of my pocket for a few minutes at a time to take pictures before feeling like my fingers would fall off.  But as I always say, the cold weather only makes food taste that much better.  That Alberta prime rib was devoured in minutes. 

Lake Louise, Fairmont Hotel 

Good morning, Lake Louise!  We checked it at the Fairmont pretty late so it was such a pleasant surprise to wake up to this window view of the lake (covered in ice and snow) from our hotel room.   So grand and majestic!

Snowshoeing at Bow Lake

We drove up the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Bow Lake to go snowshoeing.  I didn't know what to expect since this was my first snowshoeing experience - one I almost cancelled because it seemed uninteresting from the online reviews.  Fortunately, I didn't.  Snowshoeing is the best way to explore the back country in the wintertime.  Not only was the scenery breathtaking but walking deep into the snow covered forest and, at times, above a frozen lake while hearing the roar of the avalanche was exhilarating.  Admittedly, if it weren't for our highly experienced and knowledgeable guide from  Great Divide Nature Interpretation tour company, I'd be kind of scared, too.  I can't recommend this tour enough!     

Eden Restaurant

Of course, it wouldn't be a vacation if we didn't have good food to pair with fun activities.  Dannie earned major brownie point, or rather, foie gras points, for finding this culinary gem at Eden.  Did I mention they have foie gras on the menu?   Oh yeah, baby. Oh yeah!

Banff, Two Jack Lake & Lake Minnewanka

Again, I'm mesmerized by the view from our hotel room.  The following photos were taken from our room's window at the RimRock Resort. in Banff.

We took one last stroll around Banff, met my first elk (!!), and drove to Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka before bidding adieu to the Canadian Rockies.  Surprisingly, even though the two lakes were pretty close, Two Jack Lake was almost thawed while Lake Minnewanka remained pretty frozen.

See you again, Alberta.  Your majestic beauty and grandeur was everything I imagined it to be!