I had done a TON of research on where to stop along the Icefields Parkway before our trip. I thought that I had planned the entire thing out, and that we would expertly conquer this highly traveled, much photographed road that transports visitors from Lake Louise to Jasper (and back again).
Then we ran into some road construction and I got us lost.
But we started the day off right! I had planned on getting up for sunrise in the town of Banff, but we quickly decided to just head to Lake Louise first thing in the morning instead. Which turned out to be a fantastic idea. We were among the first 20 people there, which doesn’t actually sound that great in theory, but compared to the crowds later in the day, we felt pretty secluded.
We knew we still had a packed day ahead, so we jumped back on the road- and this is where my map reading skills really threw us for a loop. And by that I mean, I have no map reading skills, and I got us lost. About 15 miles in the wrong direction during heavy construction lost. But hey, it’s all about the journey, right? (Which is what I tried telling Tom, who at the time seemed more annoyed by the detour through beautiful river valleys than I thought was necessary. But little did I know, he had a little surprise for me in his backpack that he was dying to give me.)
Once we were back on track we stopped at a few scenic overlooks and pull-outs that I had read about online. At each corner a new gorgeous view was waiting for us, so when I say plan on stopping a lot at random places to take pictures, I literally mean every 10 minutes you will want to get out of your car and snap a picture because “this mountain top/glacier/lake/river/rock on the side of the road is the most amazing thing I’ve seen all trip!”
I am a little biased when I say that Peyto Lake was my favorite stop of the day. I mean, it’s where I yelled “what are you doing?” at my now fiance as he was getting down on one knee to ask me to marry him. Where I didn’t even say “yes” because I was so excited to put the ring on. Where I bitched and moaned for 6km while Tom sweetly still thought about spending his entire life with me. But it’s also where we had the best panoramic view of the mountains we had been driving through. Where we were so high over a glacial lake that we could hardly hear each other over the wind. It’s a truly magical place-when you take the extra time to hike up above the crowds. We stopped at the outlook, and after a minute of peering at the lake through throngs of tourists we made our way up hill to get a better view. If you take the poorly marked fire road and follow the switchbacks for about 4 km you will be welcomed by waterfalls, wildflowers, and a rocky walk among the mountain tops.
And lordy, that lake view!!
And can you believe that this was all before noon?! I promise to continue the regularly scheduled programming of views, hikes and pit-stops…but had to quickly relish in the fact that I was lucky enough to have a life changing moment happen at a life changing spot.