(Photograph by Matt Jenkins)I began to feel a sense of pride the longer I lived there. I'd watch tourists’ delighted faces as I casually told them about the grizzly bear that swam across the lake that morning or the huge hailstorm I’d gotten caught in during July. As it got closer to my one-year mark I realized that I wasn’t done with the Lake or Alberta. I loved my job and had met amazing people from all corners of the world, making some life-long friends who were always ready for a new adventure. Trying new things became a way of life. I jumped off the summit of Mount 7 to go paragliding. That same year I tackled the rapids of Kicking Horse River during a white water rafting excursion. When I went dogsledding I became convinced that this was the only way to ever travel again. On my first Christmas away from my family I skated through the ice castle sculpted on the frozen lake and felt a new sense of independence. I even (almost) got over my fear of horses for a steep trek up to the Lake Agnes teahouse, hidden in the trees 1200 feet above Lake Louise. I knew that even if I tried something just once, I’d always remember that experience.
(Photograph by Matt Jenkins)The reason I stayed out west for so long is very simple: Lake Louise became my home. It allowed me to experience a completely new life filled with mountain air, adventure, and an unfriendly porcupine I dubbed Prickles. 5 must-do's in Lake Louise Grabbing a cuppa at Trailhead Café Trailhead Café is located in Samson Mall in the village of Lake Louise. It’s a popular breakfast and lunch spot for village residents and tourists on the go. Have a chat with the employees and find out their favourite local places before grabbing a wrap (the Greek wrap is fabulous) and heading out for your next adventure. Hike up to Fairview Lookout At an elevation gain of 100 meters, the Fairview Lookout trail is a short hike by Lake Louise standards. The climb is a pleasant and steep nature walk that’s perfect to do before dinner or early in the morning. The lookout point from the top of the trail offers beautiful views of the lake and the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. My favourite part about the hike is the fact that my heart doesn’t feel like it’s about to explode out of my chest like it does with more challenging trails. Hike around Moraine Lake Moraine Lake is nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks just down the road from Lake Louise. After taking the very long and windy road to reach it, enjoy the stunning views from on top of the towering rock pile, a very short climb (don’t worry, there are stairs) at the foot of the lake. The area is much quieter than Lake Louise, but chock-full of hiking trails and canoeing options.
(Photograph by Matt Jenkins)Do the dip: Lake Louise The beautiful waters of Lake Louise are just begging to be swum in. Yeah, good luck with that. The lake is glacier fed, and the warmest I ever witnessed it get was 11°C (52°F). Most people jump in, scream and thrash wildly back out. But it’s all in good fun—tourists and locals alike love jumping into the lake for nothing if but bragging rights. 90 seconds in the water (my personal best) will cool you off for an entire day. Try and make it to the area for Canada Day, when the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise organizes a polar bear dip for locals and guests. BONUS: In 2012 former Bachelor Sean Lowe and his bachelorettes took a dip while staying in the area in October.
(Photograph by Matt Jenkins)Ski Louise A visit in the winter demands a trip to the Lake Louise Ski Resort, home of the Alpine Ski World Cup each November. One of the biggest attractions in the area, the hill is the one of the first to open in Canada and one of the last to close. It has 4200 skiable acres (1700 hectares) featuring 139 runs and a stunt park. But make sure you’re an experienced skier/boarder—the most gentle run (aside from the bunny hill) reminded me of a double black diamond hill in southern Ontario. If you're thinking ahead to winter, there's always Christmas in Lake Louise. And for more inspiring images of Lake Louise, check out photographer Matt Jenkins' online portfolio.