February began with a visit from Nyssa. Despite our love for each other making the distance OK, after 8 weeks of being apart we were very excited for our reunion. Finally though the day came and I rushed up to meet her at the Fairmont Chateau, overlooking Lake Louise itself. Nyssa works in the tourism industry and that gets her access to the Fairmont’s special rates, making a little bit of luxury waayy more affordable for us. The staff at the Chateau did not disappoint; upgrading us to an amazing room with a view right over the lake!
I had been hoping for a lazy morning the next day, but Nyssa was bubbling over excitement for the mountains, so we set out on snowshoes for the Fairview Peak Lookout. The trail climbs above the lake and commands a great view back across at the chateau and beyond.
In the afternoon we ventured out across the lake itself to have a look at some of the ice climbers and up the valley at the far end. We’d had plenty of fresh snow before Nyssa arrived, so once we got into the middle of the lake we were making our own tracks through untouched snow, which was really great.
Next it was time for a couple of days of proper snow sports! The main reason I’m in Lake Louise of course is for the snowboarding of course, so I was really keen to show Nyssa some of the trails and the glorious views from the high parts of the mountain. Nyssa had done a bit of downhill skiing when she was younger, but needed a bit of a refresher, which provided an ideal opportunity for us to both do a ski lesson. I’ve only skied once before, so we’d conveniently be moving at the same pace. It was really great! I put together a little video of the highlights.
After the skiing we left Lake Louise and headed down to Banff and another Fairmont – The Banff Springs Hotel. The Banff Springs is even more grandiose than the chateau, and both the days we were there we enjoyed the outdoor heated saltwater pool and all the other nice little touches that Fairmont does. It was a real taste of how the other half live. On the first night we went over to Banff Centre to do some climbing. The climbing was great fun, but the real highlight of that night was bumping into some elk, just outside the climbing wall!
The next day I had my first taste of cross country skiing! In the flatter areas of Canada – Ontario, Quebec, etc, cross country skiing is a big thing. Nyssa has been doing it with her family for years, and we were both very keen to do some around the area so we could get out into the wilderness and Nyssa could introduce me to a sport that is very dear to her. We rented some skis from the hotel and set off on a loop along the Spray River, one of the tributaries that flows into the famous Bow River. Coming from a “no-sliding nation” I took a little while to get used to cross country, more than with “normal” skiing. To do it most efficiently you have to time your legs and arms very well, more than downhill skiing, and if you go onto an edge even slightly, your ski is probably going to skewer off into the snow and you’ll find yourself in a heap at the side of the trail. I fell over more times than I did learning to downhill ski! By the time we reached the halfway point my toes were pretty chilly, but Nyssa was clearly in her element so we pressed on through a rougher, less skied route in search of more adventure. It was really fun! We saw a deer, and with the trail being barely used it felt much more like we were out in the wilderness.
4 hours later we found ourselves back on the hotel grounds and made our way to the outdoor pool for a well earned soak. That evening we dressed up nice and went down to the 1888 Chop, the Banff Spring’s steak house, for one of the nicest steaks we’d ever had.
The next day we had a lazy morning and got ourselves ready for Nyssa to go back, it had been a wonderful few days, and another adventure for me and Nyssa to chalk up in our tally. It’ll be another 4 weeks or so until I return to Toronto, so it was nice for us to think that we were well over the half way point of me being away, and we’d be off on more adventures soon.