Thursday, July 4, 2013

lake louise: skates, skis and dogs

There are days when all I want to do is rug up with a warm blanket on a comfy couch, turn on the TV and watch Game of Thrones in an endless loop.

But today was not that kind of day.

When a view as majestic as this greeted me in the morning, it left me with no other option than to arrange a full suite of activities to get the most out of the blissful weather.

First thing we did was to take a brisk walk around Lake Louise as far as our stomachs could handle before turning back.

The sky goes up and up for miles. Vanilla ice cream of snow nestles between the trees that look more like boar bristle hairbrush. Old man's whiskers drapes and decorates.

When our stomachs grumbled like an old man, we walked back to the Chateau for some breakfast. As we approached the chateau, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a small bobcat diligently clearing the evidence of yesterday's flurries from what seems to be a small skating rink right on top of Lake Louise. After a quick inquiry, we got ourselves some skates from the chateau and squeezed in a morning skating session before we headed off for breakfast that was now turning more like brunch.

Dining option at Lake Louise is very restrictive. Urbanspoon lists only 30 restaurants in the area. We, most often than not, opted for dining at the Chateau. What attracted my attention to the Chateau's Glacier Saloon is its menu.

Under COWBOY FAVOURITES is Nasi Goreng, an indonesian dish. As someone who is from that part of the world, this gave me the giggles.

Though it was cute, it would be embarassing to come all the way to Lake Louise to have nasi goreng. I picked the canadian option of bison goulash instead, which was hearty and belly-warming. The bison to me tasted not unlike beef. The portion was large. I almost couldn't finish it, considering I was hungry. The dish was accompanied with butter spatzle, seasonal vegies, gremolata & fried onions.

Hubby chose the grilled baby back pork ribs, which was accompanied with stout BBQ sauce, smoked salt & rosemary roasted chicken leg, pan jus, truffle thyme parmesan potato wedged fries, creamy citrus cole slaw. What a long list of ingredients for such a simple dish of chicken and ribs.

What we liked about the Glacier is that it's, believe it or not, one of the more affordable dining option at the Chateau, with large portions that are great for sharing. It certainly fueled us to get on with the rest of our day.

Bison goulash - $30
Grilled pork ribs & chicken - $31
Glacier Saloon on Urbanspoon
Glacier Saloon
111 Lake Louise Drive 
Lake Louise ALBERTA
Open for lunch Saturday & Sunday 12pm-5pm
Open for dinner Sunday-Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday & Saturday 5pm-1am

After letting the food settle comfortably and snugly within the crevices of our cavernous gut, we drove to the Lake Louise ski area. Ski Lake Louise, as it's called, is one of the Big 3 ski areas in Alberta, the other two being Banff and Sunshine.

The day promised us fresh, pillowy snow. We've never skied before, so we booked ourselves in for a 2-hour ski lesson. We found the place to buy the lesson tickets with a bit of difficulty, but no matter, we got ourselves two tickets, which included the ski gear and ski lift passes. Then, we ran to the gear rental place, not wanting to miss the start of the lesson. I almost lost hope of making it, it seems the fresh fallen snow last night has enticed everyone else to join in on the fun, the queue was phenomenal. We did eventually make it, just.

Our instructor was an aussie!! Upon telling him that I too am from the land down under, he chuckled and conspiratorially volunteered that Lake Louise is overrun by aussies. Aussies will rule the world, mua-ha-ha. Ok maybe not, but at the very least we rule Lake Louise.

We love our instructor, he must be built of fluffy snow of patience and niceness. We had two other fellow students, one was a scotsman with no prior experience like us, the other was a canadian who has dabbled a bit. The scottish fellow, the hubby and I were rubbish. We winked at each other in lieu of giving each other pats on the back, on the understanding that we were rubbish. We probably would've ended up killing ourselves (and each other) if left to our own devices. But, under the firm and patience tutelage of our instructor, we somewhat semi-mastered the whole snow-plowing business. That is not to say that our thighs did not cramp horribly the following morning. Skiing is hard.

Alas we couldn't ruminate about our lack of competence at skiing for long, as we've arranged for a leisurely dog sled in an area near the chateau before the day ends. And this, my dear friends, is by far my most favourite activity of the day. Both of us are dog people and what better way to end an already amazing day by frolicking with some sled dogs. I did wish that one of us were given a chance to steer the sled, like a friend of mine did when he came here a couple of months ago. But, it wasn't meant to be, we had to contend ourselves with laying comfortably in the sled, cocooned in weather-proof blanket that warmed us right up like a furnace.

The dog musher steered our sled in, what I suspect, a path that has been established only that morning within a forest of pine trees. The forest seemed like it would go on forever, but just as I was settling in to the bumps of the sled and the occasional excited yelps, a clearing opened up and my heart stopped. A view of the majestic rockies was upon us. We stopped and enjoyed the view served before us. The dogs at this point were all riled up and excited from the exercise, barking at each other and at the musher, wondering why they were stopping. The musher took a couple of photos of us in the sleds with our camera before giving the dogs what they wanted and made our way back through the forest.

Back at the meeting point, we hung around for a bit to play with the dogs, watching them getting fed. We talked to our musher and the other mushers who arrived with their passengers. Turns out our musher is a professional dog sled driver with a few competitions under her belt.

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