Lake Louise

Having reached the Canadian Rockies, Ben finds himself marvelling at the wonders of Lake Louise

Having parted ways with Steve I made my way in to the hostel where at the front desk I checked myself in. Now whilst I realise this sounds simple enough I found handing over my credit card very difficult for this would be the first time I paid for accommodation in 81 nights and thus I narrowly missed out on the 100 night milestone I had been hoping for...

...This being said, I can't complain and in fact I am really quite proud of what I have achieved - in the 133 nights since moving out of my apartment I have now paid for accommodation just twice - I may not yet be living for free, but I am certainly on the right track.
In the 133 nights since moving out of my apartment I have now paid for accommodation just twice!
Anyway. I dumped my bag and after devouring some bison for lunch I began making my merry old way up the hill towards Lake Louise.

Now prior to that afternoon I had always thought that the phrase "breathtaking" was just that - a phrase - but upon reaching the lake I honest to God felt my breath taken from me.

Lake Louise was unlike anything I had ever seen before and despite the many hundreds of tourists lining the lake, it somehow managed to sustain an elegance and beauty that elsewhere I fear would have been lost by such a stark human presence.

What happened next was just as breath taking, for as much as I tried to resist I couldn't help but strip down to my underwear and jump on in. So whilst the air temperature outside was somewhere in the mid-twenties, this glacial melt water apparently rarely rises much above 5C, though if I am honest it did not feel this cold. Either way, I was for the majority of the time the only person in the water and as people looked on in amazement I floated off in to what felt like my very own slice of heaven.

Lake Louise, Alberta

S'mores by the camp - I had never heard of them before but they were
pretty good enjoyed with new friends around the campfire!
Returning back to the hostel, the evening that followed was very memorable.

Sat around the campfire with new friends I found myself thinking back to Ottawa, where my first hostel experience was really quite forgettable - the building was cold, the guests were few and the chance to meet new people was a far cry from what I had been led to expect from a hostel environment. Lake Louise however was different. The grounds were enticing, the interior was warm, the guests both happy and plentiful and everybody I came to meet was keen to start a conversation.

So having had such a great night and met so many kind people I awoke the following morning far from ready to leave and before even brushing my teeth I had arranged to stay another night.

And what a great decision that turned out to be. I spent the majority of the day back up at Lake Louise where joined by a young Austrian lad named Kilian, we took the best part of four hours to casually hike the Plain of Six Glaciers.

Starting from Lake Louise itself, this 10.6km round hike led us through an elevation gain of over 360 meters, through which we crossed snow, ice and vast piles of scree from the eroding mountain side. At the peak of the trail (pictured below), Kilian and myself found ourselves stood at a ledge where looking down in to the ice carved valley below, we were equally struck with awe.

What I found made this experience all the more enjoyable was that it was one that could be shared. Whilst I have really enjoyed travelling on my own in Canada, there have definitely been one or two occasions where somebody to enjoy them with would have made all the difference. Today though, that was not a problem, and the company of Kilian was like the icing on an already perfect cake.

Don't look down - the peak of the Plain of Six Glaciers hike at Lake Louise