Day 10 of the Canadian Rockies trip was the last full day on our adventure out west. At this point, we were admittedly a bit “mountained out”; besides being physically exhausted from all the hiking and camping, we were also experiencing a case of beautiful scenery overload. Yes, being spoiled by gorgeous views can actually be tiring! So when our plan called for a final hike at one of the most famous locations in the country, we were initially reluctant and dragged our feet a little.
Just a few minutes drive south of the Lake Louise town site, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks is one of Canada’s most photographed sites. The scene even featured on the back side of the $20 bank note some time ago, and for this reason is known as the Twenty Dollar View. Seeing it in person was even more spectacular than I could imagine – the distinctive bright blue shade of the lake was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in the Rockies (different from the more common turquoise green), and the backdrop of the ten rugged peaks was simply stunning. Despite the slight haze in the air, it was truly magnificent.
Energized by the beauty of it all, we left the crowds behind us and took to the trails again. Starting on the northern shore of Moraine Lake, the hike to Eiffel Lake is 7 kilometers long with a moderate 600m elevation climb, and the trail promising unbeatable views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks along the way. While the first few kilometers seemed like an endless string of switchbacks in the thick woods, the path soon leveled off above the tree line and we could see the lake below and the impressive peaks on the opposite side of the valley.
The trail leads through a mountainside meadow filled with wildflowers before passing the talus slopes of Eiffel Peak. We scramble across the loose rocks and the occasional snow patch before Eiffel Lake comes into view. Continuing on to the far side of the lake will reward you with a great view of the Ten Peaks as you look back towards the valley. Go even further and you can ascend to Wenkchemna Pass which borders onto British Columbia.
On the return leg we retraced our hike-in route and arrived back at the Moraine Lake visitor centre just as the sun was beginning to set. Overall we had been trekking for about 6 hours, including a few snack breaks along the way.
Rewarding ourselves with some ice cream, we quietly enjoyed our last evening in the Rockies while contemplating our achievements over the past week and a half. The next day we would be leaving Alberta back to impossibly flat and much less dramatic Ontario. Such a shame!
Back country, front country, hiking and driving – incredibly, everything had gone smoothly and in accordance with our original planning. On our 10-day adventure, we ascended almost 5000m over a total hiking distance of 110 kilometers while treated to some truly spectacular scenery. It was indeed a Great Canadian Rockies Adventure, and I can’t wait to start the next one.