We are on the road to Lake Louise, 3 hours south of Jasper and less than an hour before Banff, in a modern black transfer bus with a half glass panoramic roof. It’s cloudy outside and the sun still about to rise. I didn’t think that one hour time difference to LA and Vancouver would effect me at all but it did way more than a big time lap. I feel like I still haven’t arrived in it and being picked up at 7am in Jasper suddenly felt like the middle of the night.
We pass valleys, follow the river and stare at the mountains left and right surrounding the small road. Going by bus or train is like having a bonus sightseeing tour. And, well, an adventure for some of us like the family we picked up at the railway station this morning. They were supposed to arrive in Jasper in the afternoon the day before but their train missed its window in between the freight trains and so they were delayed for about 14 hours – train rides in Canada. They look tired but still happy.
Trail to Lake Louise
I’m sitting at the frozen and snow covered Lake Louise and having my “Brotzeit” (literally translated “bread time” which is a typical German meal for hiking, walking or dinner). I walked about 90 minutes up the hill from the village along a small and snow covered trail. It has been so quiet that I again used all my song repertoire to show the wilderness that I’m there. I definitely have the potential to become slightly paranoid in seeing something move between the trees. I read about the grizzlies in Lake Louise on an information board while I mumble on bread and cheese. Well, maybe not paranoid but on high alert. “Aren’t they still asleep right now?” a girl later on asks during dinner. I shrug, I have actually no idea.
I watch a family play hockey on the lake. My mum texted me earlier on “Go to the lake, have a look at the hotel and then drink a cocktail for me.” and I guess that’s what you call joie de vivre and what I should do right now.
It’s a tough headache that holds me back from this brilliant idea or even thinking about renting skates and go ice skating. So I sit down with a large cup of coffee and try to get in control of it. I have to walk the way back down again later on. “Why didn’t you just hitch hike down – or even up?” a girl in the hostel later on asks me. Well, I definitely wanted to wander up on the path as I enjoy the time walking. But down? I have no explanation other that my brain says things like “Ahh, that’s easy and short. We can do this.”
Inspiration and feedback
It’s interesting where inspiration or the focus of your thoughts hit you. I didn’t do many activities during my days. The second day I used the snowing outside as a good excuse to write my blog, go for a short walk, enjoy a nice coffee and write many pieces concerning ambition, work experience and expectations together. I got inspiring feedback from my friends to the question “If you were allowed to put me in any job on this planet what/where would it be.” Inspiring and very fast feedback. I was literally overwhelmed for a second and very grateful to have these people in my life.
So I used the day to step forward in my search for where I see myself next and burnt off some energy in the evening when I joined a HIIT (High Intensity Intervall Training) class in the local activity center with once more so friendly people and a welcoming instructor Laura. “If you want to go skiing tomorrow you should adjust how hard you go tonight. Otherwise it will hurt. Believe me.” She didn’t lie. My legs are burning even two days later but I can totally recommend stopping by and dropping in if you’re here and don’t have plans on the next day.
I walk back through the labyrinth of snow paths to avoid the main road. So much snow. Susan from the local sports store told me that Lake Louise needs til June to fully thaw. Isn’t that incredible?
And then my heart stopped for a little second. All my music was gone from my phone. All the carefully created playlists and picks, my travel songs. All. The hostel’s wifi had confronted me already with a couple of problems. But this… that was a big thing. These songs, this music has accompanied me for 8 months of traveling now. Connected with memories, emotion and spirit. It’s not just a couple of songs. It’s my journey packed in songs. I kept my fingers crossed that in the next wifi in a couple of days I could get a backup working.
(Spoiler: It worked.)
The last evening we spent sitting at a bonfire outside with snow all around. Marshmallows were getting crispy and hot chocolate was served for the ones who needed some warming up from inside. Maybe I talked a bit too much and should have asked more questions. But I didn’t talk to people for a couple of days and it had to get out. It also led me to a really good conversation with Terry from Southern California. About her kids, traveling to gain an understanding for the world, Los Angeles and acting classes. And not manifesting the „I don’t want to…“ thought but the things you want to have, what you wish for. It was the inspirational and encouraging talk that I needed for ending this day.
Afterwards we listened a lot to the stories of our hostel guide who took care of the fire and lived in Lake Louise for a long time already. He told us about the rivalry between The Valley people and The Chateaus (who work in the fancy Fairmont Chateau at the lake). „We’re not allowed in their bar anymore. Only if someone of the Chateaus signs you in. We don’t see them, they don’t come down. Only in summer for the baseball match. Which is vicious, every time.“ He adds stories about the first grizzly sighting a couple of days ago “he was wandering in the camp grounds, they wake up every year a bit earlier” which made most of us turning around and looking into the darkness and the Australian guy by the fire exclaiming a “This is for real? I thought this bear thing is made up…” He got lost that day while snowboarding out of bounds and made it back just after sunset in one piece.
“That has happened to me also one time but I couldn’t make it back before sunset so I stayed 14 hours down the creek where I accidentally rode into.” The guy from Lake Louise added. “You stayed 14 hours outside? During the night??” He looked unconcerned. “Yeah, I had to tuck my head inside my jacket for 15 minutes to warm up and then 15 minutes outside to breathe properly. But it worked. I was just so sorry that I didn’t make it back on time because I was the driver and my friends waited for me. And I was a bit worried about my toes and hoped they won’t freeze off.”
In the end….
„How could you spend three days here? In winter, there’s nothing to do. And the lake isn’t pretty at all,“ the German girl questioned me who had arrived in the morning and would leave the next day again. I had to think. In summary the activities I did I could count on one hand. For 3 nights I stayed in Lake Louise without skiing or boarding. I had the 6 persons bedroom all to myself. I had a nice towel. I liked the trail up to the lake and sitting at the bonfire surrounded by snow. And I liked having the time to drink a coffee. I thought a lot about work, jobs, meaning. I applied actually for two jobs, rearranged my LinkedIn profile. And I enjoyed having the calmness all around.
So I just shrugged my shoulders. „Somehow I liked it here.“