Lake Louise is a wonder. She lies flat and still in a fold of the Canadian Rockies, resting where she does only because glacial melt has to go somewhere. It goes here and stays, making an aqua pool whose color is unmatched anywhere in nature.
Above Louise is Agnes. She is a lesser known, smaller and far less celebrated little sister. She is beautiful in her own right, and has something Louise doesn’t have. She has a tea house.
If one wants to make the trek to the Lake Agnes Tea House (and we did), you first walk half the length of Lake Louise, take a hard right and climb only 1,200 feet over about 3 miles. At the top awaits 100 loose leaf teas, soups, sandwiches, boards of cheese and two fireplaces. It’s not a tough hike at all, unless you start pretty tired and a little hungry. Or, it’s cold, or rainy. Or all of the above.
Our hike started a bit later than planned. As we skirted Louise and turned up the hill, we hardly noticed the mist that had turned to drizzle. A mile or so up, the drizzle gained strength as we lost ours. At mile 2, we no longer enjoyed the view, watching our feet as rain fell full force. By the time we caught our first glimpse of the tea house, we were drowned rats – cold and ravenous. We stepped onto the porch and through the front door at 5:05 p.m.
“Sorry folks, we’re closed. We close at 5:00 p.m.,” said the host. I looked at her, and she looked at me, and our eyes said the same thing. “If we have to walk down without food, we will die. We will die at the Lake Agnes Tea House.”
“I’m sorry you’re closed, but if we don’t get something to eat, we will die here.” A bit dramatic, perhaps. But tough times call for tough measures.
“Just a minute,” our waiter replied, and came back from the kitchen with the five most beautiful words I ever heard. “OK, What do you want?”
Two crocks of soup, a platter of cheese, crackers and fresh fruit, warm apple crumble, two cookies, three pots of tea. two warm fires, two lovable eyes looking at me. And Louise’s little sister.