This morning I hiked from the Chateau Lake Louise to the tea house on tiny Lake Agnes.
I was excited to begin, as the last time I took this hike in the Canadian Rockies was 1984. The trail must have changed in the three dozen years since, I figured. I know I’ve changed. I was 27 then, 63 now. But I knew the mountains were the same, and in some key ways so am I.
There weren’t many people (yay!), but they were dressed for the cold. I, on the other hand, wore my Columbia walking shoes, sweatpants, and a short sleeve shirt.
Sounds crazy, right? But I’m home in Wisconsin. I was walking in my basement. On my treadmill.
My wife and I bought the treadmill several months ago. The past couple of winters we haven’t gotten enough exercise. Living in southeast Wisconsin just a short walk from Lake Michigan, we get lots of unpleasant winter weather. We get many cloudy days with temperatures in the 30s combined with dampness in the air, a brutal combination. The damp cold penetrates the skin. I much prefer when we get colder, drier weather. But we get less of that than we used to. And we get enough snow and rain and freezing rain and slush that walking for exercise is a challenge for our no-longer-young bodies, and falling is more likely to lead to significant injury.
So we splurged on a treadmill in the fall. For those of you in our age bracket or older, we specifically looked for one that is geared to older walkers. Most treadmills are designed for joggers who are middle-aged or younger, and are set at an incline. Ours, made by Sunny Health and Fitness, is set flat. It also has a wider base and longer safety handle bars on the sides.
When the weather is nice, of course, we still prefer to walk in our neighborhood. And if I’m looking to get outdoors but am not trying to put in distance or speed, I still go over to spectacular Grant Park, just two blocks away, with its deep ravine, semi-wild beach and gorgeous bluffs overlooking the lake.
But the treadmill is much better than I had hoped. And that’s in part because I have discovered there’s a whole community of people on YouTube who post high-quality videos of hikes. I’ve been creating playlists of them organized by different parts of the world.
Above Lake Louise: The Big Beehive
I was excited to find the Lake Louise video I used this morning. One day I hope to return, so spending three-quarters of an hour this morning following the trail to the tea house was great fun. I was especially happy to see the Big Beehive again. In 1984 I climbed to the top of it, and dangled my feet over the edge while I gazed down a couple of thousand feet to the lake and over to the Chateau Lake Louise and far beyond.
I was in grad school at the time, and this was my first academic conference. Unable to stand the thought of being in this gorgeous location and not experiencing it, I skipped out and took my hike. I believe it took me a couple of hours to make it from the Chateau to the top of the Big Beehive, and then just half an hour downhill to get back. I was hurrying to make it to a friend’s conference session.
A couple of freelance explorers have put together a wonderful detailed description of the trail, with lots of great photos from a 2018 trip.
The Best Walking Videos
The Lake Louise hiking video had one drawback: it included an overlay of music and birdsong. Relaxing, yes, but I prefer walking videos that include the natural sound of the location, and many of them do.
The best walking videos are in 4K quality, filmed by someone who is using a stabilizer, and by someone who knows not to make rapid turns to the sides. A video that’s less than 4K might still be acceptable, but when the image bounces around and makes too many sudden turns, seasickness results. And it is not fun getting seasick on a treadmill!
I’ve just started using these walking videos. Before that I usually streamed the news or perhaps a show. But after previewing a number of them and then walking at Lake Louise this morning, I’m sold on them. They make the exercise much more fun, and I suspect there’s more value to them than that. I’ll write about them again as I get more familiar with them.