Shortly after 05h00 we pulled off the highway at the exit for Lake Louise, following the signage for Moraine Lake another 14km away. Signs warned RVs of winding narrow roads, and I slowed the Jeep as we climbed up further into the mountains, eyes peeled for any kind of wildlife that may have thought it a smart idea to jump out in front of us. When we arrived at the tiny Moraine Lake parking lot it was still pitch black; almost all of the spots were empty, and as we parked another vehicle arrived and a photographer hopped out with his tripod. I could have guessed we wouldn’t be alone, but I was interested to see just how many people were already up at the lake’s famous overlook. Using my headlamp as a guide Dani and I found the sign for the Consolation Trail which would take us up the rocky mountainside to the perfect vista to watch the sun rise from. Within ten minutes we had reached a stone patio area, surrounded by tall pine trees, and were looking out over the most beautiful lake I believe I’ve ever seen. Moraine glowed back at us from under the cloudy morning skies with a saturated blue that I struggle to even describe. I set up two cameras on separate tripods and began shooting, capturing early morning light and waiting the sun cresting the horizon behind us, checking my compass and verifying that the first rays of light would illuminate the Ten Peaks mountain chain across the lake. This iconic vantage point is known as the “20 Dollar View”, as it was once portrayed on the back of the Canadian $20 bill.
By the time we arrived back at the Jeep it was pitch black and we were the only car left in the lot. A five minute ride into town left us at the Saint James’s Gate Olde Irish Pub where we found a great menu to choose our meals from. Service was “relaxed” and we both expressed how tired we were as we finished a delicious appetizer and moved on for our main courses. Eventually paying the bill, we drove back to our campsite at Tunnel Mountain, getting our teeth brushed and climbing into the tent just before midnight. The day had been one for the record books – up exceptionally early to watch a beautiful sunrise over gorgeous snowcapped peaks, moving on to witness the indescribable color of what is arguably the most famous lake in the Canadian Rockies, a well deserved nap, and exploration for the entire afternoon wrapped up with a gondola ride and breathtaking sunset from a 7,500’ mountain peak. It’d be hard to argue just how uniquely amazing this adventure, this “vacation”, is, but I can honestly say that there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be right now.